How to Use Limited Space to Set Up a Home Office You Never Want to Leave By: Alice Robertson

desk photo alice article

Are you short on space but in desperate need of a home office? Living in a small space shouldn’t limit your ability to work from home, and with some creative organizing and design tips, it doesn’t have to. So, if you’re ready to set up the tiny home office of your dreams, you need to start with these helpful work-at-home hacks. 

Create a Compact Work Area That Fits Your Needs

When you are working with limited space for your home office, you need to be extremely selective in choosing decor, furnishings, and furniture. Everything needs to have a function and fit neatly into whatever nook, corner, or space you can carve out. Built-in desks are a perfect workspace solution for fitting a home office into just about any room in your home. These compact work areas don’t take up a lot of space and can even be worked into your kitchen — if that’s the best spot to multitask in your home.

Multi-purpose offices are becoming more popular for smaller homes as well. Fold-away tables and rolling carts can make it easy to quickly repurpose an office area for other uses, such as entertaining or for hobbies. These nifty little tricks are especially convenient if you live in a tiny home or a studio apartment. Every home office also needs some essential tech to function properly, but luckily, these office options are designed to not take up a lot of space. 

Save Money on Office Storage and Save Trees Too 

To keep your home office organized you will need to include some creative storage solutions in your overall design budget. That may mean doing some shopping for bargains on shelves and cabinets or making use of items you already have in your home. There are tons of DIY storage ideas online, and you can even upcycle baskets and suitcases to fit your workspace needs.

Of course, one of the simplest ways to save on storage and space in your office is to cut down on your paper usage. Embrace digital storage options for your small business needs for a more secure, less cluttering way to preserve essential documents, information, and paperwork. You can grab a portable scanner to upload any existing paper copies you have and keep up with new paperwork as it rolls into your home. Best of all, you can carry these scanners with you, so you can have instant access to your cloud and storage. Finally, keep mail from piling up by opting out of junk mail and switching to electronic statements for any bills or accounts. 

Add Some Personal Touches to Your Tiny Office 

Just because your office is small doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Your workspace should really reflect your taste while inspiring you to succeed, so really put your own spin on it. Choose a theme you won’t get tired of and then pick up some essential decor items to pull everything together. An energizing piece of art can jazz up boring walls, while plants always add a calming, beautiful touch to any room. Good lighting is crucial for preserving your eyesight, and while natural light works best, you may need to add a lamp or two to those dark corners and spaces you fashion into an office. Adjustable desk lamps work well in smaller office space and allow you to focus light where you really need it most. Plus, there are tons of styles to fit your aesthetic and price range. If you still have room, consider adding a small oil diffuser as well. Studies show that certain scents can increase productivity and focus, and some essential oils can ease stress. 

Living in a smaller home can often leave you struggling to find a good space for a home office. However, with some clever design hacks, a few pieces of functional furniture, and your own creative style, you can set up the home workspace of your dreams anywhere. So, clear out a closet or corner and get more done from your home.

Writer: Alice Robertson
Photo Credit: Unsplash

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Japanese Method Of Folding Pesky Plastic Bags!

Plastic bags; will they ever go away? Even though I have drastically decreased my inventory and incorporated using canvas bags for shopping trips, I still have a few Plastic shopping bags that I keep just in case of out-of-doggy-poop-bag-emergencies.

The tricky part is, keeping them looking neat and organized. I recently came across the Japanese method of folding plastic shopping bags and for, me and my storage situation, it has been a major game changer.

Follow the steps below, to get your plastic bags in this perfect little triangles.

Step 1: Lay the bag flat on the table and press flat to take all the air out.

Step 2: Fold plastic bag in half. Again, make sure to flatten the bag so all the air comes.

Step 3: Fold into thirds. Repeat method of flattening and releasing any air from the bag.

Step 4: Fold one bottom corner up and across bag to form a small triangle.

Step 5: Take the bottom left corner of the triangle and fold up along left side (not diagonally as in step 4).

Step 6: Repeat steps 4 and 5 until the triangles end right under the handles.

Step 7: Fold and tuck in handles of bag into the triangle piece.

Keep these in a drawer, drawer insert/divider, your purse or any other place that works for you. This is a divider I purchased from The Container Store and houses my in case of emergency plastic bags nice and neatly!

How To Perfect Your To-Do List

To-Do lists are always a hot topic. Personally, I can’t live without them. However, I have made the mistake of putting too much on a to-do list, not getting it all done & then BOOM, all of a sudden you feel like a failure. That’s not a great feeling. My advise to everyone: be kind to yourself and allow the realistic. Here are some to-do list tips that help you do just that.

  1. Decluttering Is Not Just For Physical Items:  Decluttering is a huge part of any organization project but should not only be limited to physical items. It can be applied to email inboxes, spending habits and also to do lists. Sometimes, we can get over zealous and put 20 items on a list. However, in reality, doing this can be overwhelming, distracting and stressful, just like physical clutter.
  2. Prioritize Your List: Putting urgent tasks at the top of your list is key. Try to get them out-of-the-way earlier in the day if possible. You will feel like a weight is lifted off your shoulders, and you will be motivated to continue on with the rest of your list.
  3. Create Stretch Goals: In retail, you have sales goal for the day and once that goal is met, you aim to hit a stretch goal. The idea behind a stretch goal is to essentially get ahead of your goal for the month, quarter and year. I have been applying this tactic to my to-do lists, because I feel way less stress in my life when I am one step ahead verses always playing catch up. Also, if you don’t get to that task that day it’s not the end of the world and you can add it to another day.
  4. Practice Intentionalism:  The intentions behind actions can motivate you more than just the task itself. It gives meaning to your work. Be conscious of your true intentions when you are making your to-do list. For example: some people find the task of laundry to be daunting. But if we focus on the intention behind doing laundry, we realize that we love having clean clothing and outfits that make us feel confident.
  5. Pick A System That Excites You: Since we are in a digital age, there are so many to-do list apps that are awesome. I am more old-fashioned, and prefer writing things down, but which ever you choose, pick a system, program or notebook that excites you and will make putting daily to-do lists that much more enjoyable.

 

WHY HIRE A PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZER?

“So what do you do?”
“I am a Professional Organizer.”
“Oh wow, are all your clients hoarders?”

This is a conversation I have weekly (sometimes multiple times a week). The short answer: No, you don’t need to be a hoarder to benefit from the services of a Professional Organizer. But who exactly does need an organizer and why?

Here are five reasons why hiring a P.O. can be just what you and your family need:

1. Conquer The Clutter: Whether its boxes of old photos, or clothing we haven’t worn in years, we all have items that can cause clutter. Working with a pro to tackle these areas will make the process a lot easier for you. Professional Organizers help you sort through these items and decide what stays, gets donated or discarded. We then piece it all back together by creating a system that is simple for you to maintain. #clutterconquered

2. New Perspective: Sometimes we get too comfortable with how we use our space. Having a fresh set of eyes can shake things up; usually for the better. I learned this first hand designing closets. Clients would call me for a consultation and say things like “I doubt there is anything you can do with this space, it’s just so small.” After taking some wall measurements and assessing their storage needs, I would design two to three options per closet. The client would usually respond with “Wow, I didn’t even think that was possible.” The same can also be true for organizing.

3. Relax More, Stress Less: A main reason people call up a P.O. is because clutter and disorganization is adding unwanted stress to everyday life. We don’t always realize it, but clutter can signal to our brain that our work is never finished. That is a very stressful way to live and an organizer can help relieve some of that stress.

4. Save Time: When I started my Professional Organization business, I was inclined to learn about time and how we waste it looking for things. All those mornings we can’t find our keys, sort through boxes to find that one pair of shoes you need for a wedding, or that bill you can’t seem to remember where you placed, add up. In general, the average person uses around 1 year of their life looking for things. My mind was blown after I heard that number and I want to help my clients gain some of that time back.

5. Save Money: Similar to time being wasted, money can be wasted as well. A classic example of this is buying the same hot sauce three different times because they are all buried in different areas of your refrigerator and you can’t find it when you need it. Another example is when a client and I are sorting through their closet and we find multiple items with tags still on them that have never been worn and essentially been forgotten about. When you have a more organized system in your closet, or in your fridge, you may just want to wear something you already own, and not need to re-buy something that you have but can’t find.

WHERE TO DONATE WHAT.

“Declutter” is a magical word that may instantly give you a feeling of calmness, zen and peace of mind. While this is the goal with any organizing project, the process can sometimes be the opposite.

One reason for this is because you may not know where to donate what. Clothing is usually the easiest to find new homes for with since there are many establishments and organizations set up that take clothing donations. But what about old sheets, TVs, books etc? These are a bit more challenging and require more research.

Here are my go-to places that recycle, upcycle and put your unwanted stuff to great use!

Electronics: Disposing old electronics in the garbage is one of the most harmful things we, as humans, can do to the environment. Thanks to places like Best Buy and Staples, it’s very easy to recycle these items. Visit their websites for more information.

Books: My #1 place to donate old books is any public library AND most of them take DVDs as well. Added bonus: you receive a form to write off your donations on your upcoming tax form. I do recommend calling ahead of time to see if there is anything they are not currently taking at the time so you don’t waste a trip. #keepbooksalive

Linens: This is probably my favorite category! As a huge animal lover, I bring old bedding, towels, linens etc. to animal shelters. Shelters line crates with these materials so animals are nice and comfy. Could you think of anything better to do with your old bed sheets?

Eyeglasses & Sunglasses: New Eyes is a great non-for profit that takes eyeglass and sunglass donations! Visit their website to find out how to donate your old eyewear and even set up a drive in your community: https://www.new-eyes.org/

Are there any other items you have a hard time purging because you don’t know what to do with them? If so, please comment below!

ORGANIZING DIY PACKAGE

I often times get inquiries from potential clients that go something like this: “I really like to organize but I don’t know where to start and just need some help.” I totally understand that feeling and have definitely been in the same situation myself.

I’ve hopped around many NYC apartments, have had all different types of roommates and all sorts of closet space. Sometimes, you stare at the same space over and over again and you just can’t see it differently.

I realized that there is a clientele out there that is just as passionate about organizing as I am they just need a fresh set of eyes for their space.

I began offering DIY kits to help these clients. A DIY kit consists of a complimentary consultation either in home if you live in NYC or virtually over FaceTime/Skype if you are out of my range or travel. I then put together a detailed plan that you execute yourself; DIY style.

Here are 3 reasons why DIY kits may be the best way for you to work with a Professional Organizer.

You LOVE Organizing: A lot of my clients actually really love organizing they just need some guidance or they have come to a standstill when it comes to their own space. It’s very common that you live somewhere for many years and you just can’t visualize your space any other way. Bringing in a fresh set of eyes to your space can work wonders and give you all the inspiration you need. Also, you learn a bunch of organizing tricks that you are able to teach your family, kids and bring with you from home to home.

You Are On A Budget: If you are on a budget and looking to save some money, DIY kits can be a great option for you. Most organizers charge a flat fee for DIY kits. As long as you are willing and committed to executing the plan yourself, then this can be a great option for you.

You Live In A Different State Than The Organizer Of Your Dreams: In the age of social media and blogging, you may really connect with a particular organizer that you follow. You really trust this person with your space and your vision BUT they live far from you. DIY kits or Virtual Organizing programs are a great way for you and this person to work together. #dreamteam

Do you think DIY kits are for you? I would love to hear from you.

 

My Two Scents (that cleanse apartment air from unwanted puppy smells)

Getting a puppy is the best thing ever. Getting a puppy smell out of your apartment, well that’s a different story.

After trying every air freshener, enzyme cleaner and carpet powder on the market, I constantly felt disappointed. I realized a lot of products out there are great at masking smells but not actually removing them. I also tend to like natural cleaning products versus those with harsh chemicals.

I went on a mission to find the best air purifying products that would kick that pup smell out of my apartment for good. To my surprise, I still use them regularly and have also incorporated them into my business of professional organizing. Closets, storage units, garages & kitchens are examples of spaces that can benefit from air purifying.

Here are my two scents that cleansed the air in my apartment from unwanted puppy smells:

1 Sage: This aromatic plant has an extended history of medicinal properties and is native to the Mediterranean region. Burning sage has definitely been a trending topic for quite some time and I see it being sold in boutiques, yoga studios and health food stores all over the place. It is used in smudging practices that aim to purify air and also tell bad energies to hit the road. After my experience, I definitely agree with all of the above. As for being a dog mom, sage is one of the few things I used in my apartment that really made that puppy smell vanish. I would light it every morning and every night before bed. After a few days, I felt the air in my apartment neutralize. Although Otis is now all grown up and he never has accidents in the house, we still use sage religiously to keep our air and energy feeling fresh.

2 Palo Santo: Palo Santo is a tree native to Mexico, Central and South America that is burned similarly to incense. In Ecuador, burning Palo Santo is used to clear bad energy and dates back to the Incas. Similar to sage, PS has a lot of medicinal and spiritual uses. I use PS when I do my at home yoga practice, meditate, need to relax & when I need to say goodbye to bad vibes.