Whether you are working from home or simply pay bills and keep life organized (i.e. the Command Center), you need some sort of home office area. A “home office” doesn’t have to be huge. You can use anything from a closet to an in-kitchen counter to a spare bedroom so you always have an excuse to NOT have people over. My office is in our home’s spare bedroom. See where I’m going here? There are great hotels nearby.
No matter what you’re doing, you’ll need something to organize the following essentials:
- Office supplies (pens, stapler, calculator, scissors)
- Loose papers that you’ll get to now, later or someday
- Appointments or even just days of the week
- Magazines, books, pamphlets, catalogs
- Crap. The stuff people set in your area because they are too lazy to set it in their own area (for me, it’s little cars…lots of little cars. FYI, my office is right next door to a playroom that is much bigger yet everything ends up in my area).
- Files and Bills
- Stuff that doesn’t have a category (chapstick, push pins, ribbon)
We all want our personal space to look awesome, always be organized and completely functional. All of the stars align for those who are professional organizers. Unless your focus is on organization and efficiency ALL THE TIME, it’s not going to happen. There, take that stress from your day. You don’t have to be perfect but you can come dang close and fake it the rest of the time.
You can create a space that is functional, makes you feel good when you’re in it and lives up to the “everything has a place” statement.
The products below are our office staples. Some of the stuff we don’t use for it’s intended use. Re-purpose, friends.
- 8 Days a Week Planner. This planner found on See Jane Work includes a more busy-life-friendly layout and options along with your typical calendar. We place ours in a document holder (#3) right next to the computer so we have a quick reference. Once you lay the calendar down or put it away, you aren’t likely to use it. We also use digital calendars but there’s just something about writing down appointments that we can’t let go of. Clearly, we’re not the only ones.
- Business Card Holder. For less than $3 you’re keeping your tasks and ideas organized. The way I use a business card holder is to prop up index cards. I have a whole stack of cards I write different topics on and add to throughout the day. For example: I have a running index card that says “Blog Ideas”. They just stack right up in front of my keyboard so I can reference them quickly. You can also use them as reminders. “Pay ___ bill by Thursday”, etc.
- Document Holder. It’s super-cheap and can be found at any office supply store. We keep this as clean as possible. Once you start stacking things up, you’ve fallen into unorganized again. Maybe create a rule for yourself where no more than 4 documents can be in there at any one time. This is for urgent, doing-now type of projects. Once you’re finished, file it away, shred it…whatever. Just get it out of there. Front and center is our calendar (as referenced in #1).
- Wire Shelving. This is pretty much the greatest (not prettiest) invention ever. If you’re working in a small space (or even a closet), these racks can create some massive organization. They are super-easy to install, can be put at any height, readjusted and more. If you’re not so sold on the idea of having wire, use shelf liners like Eat At Home Cooks did with hers. It’s a quick (cheap) fix to make a flatter surface.
- Clipboard Wall. Holy organization thisisamazing! The dollar store almost always has clipboards. Grab yourself some (cover in cute duct tape, contact paper or scrapbook paper) and pin ’em on the wall. These make for a very simple organization board. If your home office is more like a command center, assign a clipboard to each family member. If this is a working office, use the clipboards as your tasks to do. Move them around and put them in the right order as you complete tasks. Clearly this is inspiring me.
- Photo Boxes. I use these as a catch-all. My son brings home daily sheets from school and I don’t want to throw them away but they also aren’t filed with my tax stuff so I’ve designated a photo box to his progress sheets. You can use these boxes to hold additional office supplies or photos.
- Coupon Book. Because, no matter what, your office will become a catch-all. Embrace it but have the right tools to keep your stuff organized. This super-rad booklet keeps your coupons and has a shopping list notepad. All from See Jane Work.
- File Organizer. This is pretty self-explanatory.
- Desktop Lamp. Don’t create a space that’s only functional. Add some personalization and a comfy feel.
- Fresh Flowers. I’m just starting this little trick because I’m inspired by the Aedriel Originals vase. She says she keeps fresh flowers in her studio and I think it’s a pretty awesome idea. It’s a dash of life, scent and cheer added to your office. I know that sounds super-cheesy but a home office can quickly turn into a place where you spend countless hours sitting in the same position burning holes into your computer screen. Liven it up a bit.
- Cube Storage. This is for crap storage. It’s the stuff you don’t know what to do with, the bigger pieces that don’t fit into the filing system, your drawers, on shelves, etc. It’s like a junk drawer. One day you’ll go through it or if you’re looking for something and it’s not where you thought it was, it’s in one of the bins in your cube storage.
- Mason Jars. Fill ’em up! Put pens inside, office supplies, chap stick, whatever. They look cute, you can put them in a basket and group them together in an organized way on your desk or stack them along a shelf in your closet. I’ve seen tutorials on how to paint your mason jar. Just a word of caution: if you’re storing things like pens, etc, in your jars, don’t paint the inside because it will scratch and chip. Paint the outside! Here’s a cute tutorial by Julie Ann Art.
- Tax Filer. This time of year makes my heart race. I absolutely hate it. However, if you’re organized and diligent throughout the year and have a place to put all your receipts and tax information, it’s less overwhelming. This is a part of every day life. Get one for personal and professional and you’re going to feel much better when April rolls around. This, too, can be found on See Jane Work. (We’re obsessed with the site, can you tell?)
- Garbage can. For some reason, people forget about the trash in their office. Designate a place to throw things away. For your sanity. When you’re in a hurry or buried in work, you’re not going to want to pick up your trash and take it to the nearest receptacle. Get your own. You deserve it.