Most work-at-home professionals, like freelance writers, don’t have an extra room ready to convert into an awesome home office. Between kids, pets, spouse, etc., they have to make room for work wherever they can. Check out these cool tricks to maximize your space, and even save a bit of money.
1. Switch to a laptop
If you have a bulky desktop computer with a CRT (tube) display, swap it out for a slim, trim laptop. Even a cheap business laptop can perform basic office tasks like word-processing, web browsing, and basic photo editing; and because battery life matters in laptop design, they use eight times less power than the equivalent desktop, which will save you money on your electric bill in the long run.
2. Efficiently use wall space
If you limit your office usage to the available floor space, you’ll end up with a very cramped looking home office; but by building up, you’ll find room for almost anything you need. You may want to invest in tall, narrow filing cabinets and bookcases, and consider installing floating shelves for office accessories. In addition, rather than cluttering your desk with Post-Its or loose scraps of paper for your notes, you can also invest in a glass whiteboard and you’ll have more room for stuff that can’t go anywhere else.
3. Make effective use of the space under your desk
Ideally, you should have a desk with drawers and a rollout keyboard tray to save on desktop space. If your desk doesn’t have drawers, place a small file cabinet (or even a nightstand) under your desk to serve the same purpose. Also, you should keep your shredder, wastebasket, and printer under the desk, along with any other large office appliances that you could easily reach from your office chair.
4. Get a desktop organizer
Creating a sense of open space in your home office involves cutting clutter. Everything in your office should have a designated place—and you should resist the temptation to create a “junk drawer” because they have a tendency to grow over time. If you’re not sure where to put a particular item, consider whether you really need to keep it in your home office. You can invest in a cheap desktop organizer to hold your pencils, pens, markers, etc.—and you should always remain vigilant and put everything back where it belongs when you’re done with it.
5. Control the flow of junk into your office space
Just like losing weight, decluttering requires that you to control of your intake as well as output. As a rule, every time you bring a new item into your home office, you should find something else you can get rid of, or at least store elsewhere in the house. A good rule of thumb for pack rats: if you haven’t used the item in six months, you should probably donate it, store it, or throw it away.
6. Prioritize your incoming bills and mail
Procrastination causes a significant amount of clutter and claustrophobia in home offices: when you get a bill, you don’t want to handle it right now, but you also don’t want to put it away and forget about it, so you leave it on your desk. Then another bill, or letter, or item on your to-do list comes along, and you repeat the process until you have mounds of paper on your desk. To solve this problem, you should get an in/out box, and refuse to let the inbox fill up. The discipline of keeping a clear desk will also help you stop procrastinating and handle things as they come, which will make your life easier in itself.
Sparkle with us: Share some of the challenges and victories you’ve experienced while working in a small home office space below.