It seems everything is downsizing these days. But don’t let that get you down ñ there is hope! If you share a workspace, or even if you work from home, one thing is clear: space is valuable; more specifically, functional space. By rethinking just a few aspects of your work environment, you can get the most out of your space by maximizing its attributes and minimizing the negatives.
Cleanse the Clutter. Much like a painter with a blank canvas, the first thing you need to do is assess your environment. Ideally, you would be able to actually start with a blank canvas ñ work from the outside in: move everything out of the space and only bring back into the space what you actually use. Because this is usually not an option, work from the inside OUT by removing everything you don’t need. People are often amazed at the amount of stuff they have amassed and collected without even realizing it (hello…Hoarders?).
This excess clutter can take up valuable space, but once you remove it, you can see how much real space you have in your room. From here, set up a system to maintain your clutter-free environment, whether that is buying another trash can or establishing a weekly appointment to clean your space. Finally, whatever it takes, try to keep unrelated items out of your working space so that it always stays in a manageable condition.
Work with your space to work in your space. Now that you can see what you’re working with, figure out the best plan of attack to maximize your returns. If you have minimal floor space but high ceilings, tall, narrow bookshelves may be just the thing to get your place in shape. Keep in mind with bookshelves of any kind, piling things in all the way to the back of the shelf may not be the best way to go. The key is to make things easier to get to; therefore, it defeats the purpose if you have to remove several layers of items to get the book you need. If you must stack things in a shelf, use a variation of the “last in first out” method ñ place the items you use most frequently in the front and those things you need, but rarely use on a daily basis, toward the back.
Create a cohesive design scheme. The way we see things determines how we think and feel about things. Along those lines, merely having a uniform color palette in your room may be all you need for a little peace of mind. Wherever possible, try to carry a color theme throughout the room, from the wall color, to your furniture, to your decorative items. Of course, there are ways to make different colors work together in harmony, as long as you do so in a thoughtful manner. For example, if you choose to use different colors, try to group them together and place them next to complimentary color groups. Using different color groupings can also provide a coding system that can save you a ton of time when looking for something specific (color-coded drawers and files, etc.).
Recycle, reduce, reuse. A great option for storage is repurposing previously enjoyed items to create an interesting “art installation.” For example, arrange a set of used mason jars on your desk or side shelf to create a visually appealing display of your office supplies. Not only do you now have a designated container for your paper clips, binder clips, and pens but you also have an aesthetically pleasing display that scores points in both form and function departments. Even better, integrate the color scheme tip and get jars with lids in matching colors!
Put junk in your trunk. Another inventive idea comes with concealed storage. Modern materials and updated designs have brought trunks back in style big time. If you work at home and occasionally need your living room to double as your conference room, choose a trunk that can also serve as a coffee table. Now you have a place to store items you need for those meetings (dishes, napkins, tea service, etc.) without cutting into the rest of the room.
As an alternative option, you could use the inside of the trunk/table top as a filing cabinet and create a system for storing your work papers and documents.
Appreciate your newly organized space for what it is: a way for you to start using your time most effectively, which ultimately means more money, time and energy for you to do the things you actually want to do. Experience how less is more ñ by making your small space work with you, rather than against you, you make it work for you.
Kenneth McCall loves to bike and hike. When he’s not busy with outdoor activities he is a managing partner at storage.com, a leading provider of self storage for homeowners and businesses. Ken designs systems and tools for homeowners and businesses that need storage across the country including storage units in West Chester, Pennsylvania