How to Stay Organized in 5 Easy Steps, Pt II | Workspace
If you're like most of America, you've binged Marie Kondo's Netflix show, Tidying Up(or, if you're really on top of things, you've been a disciple since her first book hit the bestseller list years ago). The inspiration is SO powerful; you've probably found yourself neck deep in piles of sorted belongings, thanking them for their service. ME TOO! For me, getting rid of things is a power trip and I AM SO HERE FOR IT. But the real problem I find myself faced with is STAYING organized once the huge purge is over. I'm certainly no expert, but I have learned a few things by trial and error (mostly error) along the way, so I'm sharing them this month on the blog. To read part one, Automation, click here.
Welcome to Part II:
2. Create A Workspace.
Whether you work remotely for a corporation, freelance from home, own your own business, or just need somewhere to collect your thoughts and write your grocery list, (which is to say, no matter who you are and what you do!!) you need a workspace to call your own. And before you fill your lungs to launch into the "my house is small and there's no room and I can't prioritize myself and yada yada yada" - I have lived in a tiny home with my three kids and husband (who works full time from home) and large dog and two cats and I still found a tiny corner to call my own. I don't care who you are or where you live, you can do this, and for the sake of your sanity and organization, I highly recommend you do. It doesn't have to be expensive or expansive, it just needs to BE. Convinced? Good. Let me show you around my new space and share a few of my tips for staying organized in it.
We've lived in three different homes since I went pro with photography 10 years ago, and my office/studio space has been WILDLY different in each one. But the important thing is that I created a space that was dedicated to my work and my creativity in each home we've lived in. I've had a tiny desk in a tiny windowless walk-in closet; a desk crammed into the corner of our small living room; a 600 square foot light-filled studio building; a sunroom; and now a corner of our laundry (yes, laundry) room. And you know what? I have loved each one and thrived in each one. There is no one right way to do the home office.
The Necessary Basics.
Desk and Chair.
In my opinion, a desk/writing surface (and chair) is a necessary element of a dedicated space. Everyone needs to write, or at least set down their laptop on a surface. Having a dedicated spot be creative and get shit done is a key element in staying organized long term. You know that your writing implements and desk items (scissors, tape, etc) are together in this space and not maybe-in-the-junk-drawer-or-kids'-room-or-bedside-table-or-who-knows, do-we-even-own-those-things??.
You don't have to spend a fortune on this. Desks ARE crazy expensive, but you don't have to play that game. I bought this one at a yard sale for ten bucks. It's solid wood and quite large, with huge drawers that are more than roomy enough for all my files and equipment. It was scratched and mistreated, but still 100% solid, so I sanded it and painted it, and here we are. I still need to find some good drawer pulls for it, because life is always a work in progress, amiright?
My desk chair is from a set of 1960's vinyl chairs that I bought from a neighbor for $40 (for the whole set, y'all. The WHOLE SET) and it's been my favorite bum-holder for years. Also, I can't have a work space without a throw blanket because mama likes to be cozy, people. This one is the softest ever, and I bought it at my grocery store (GROCERY STORE. Seriously.) a few years ago for $15.
You can't stay organized without a way to store things necessary to your work. The whole point of organization is "a place for everything and everything in its place" so make sure you have drawers, or shelves, or bins, or some way to keep your items together in a dedicated home. For instance, my desk has one drawer for hanging files (tax documents, receipts, deposited checks - all the unsexy parts of running a business), another for external hard drives, another for markers/pens/stamps/washi tape/address labels/all the things to make work pretty, etc. Without a dedicated home for those things, I would find myself searching the house for them, turning over couch cushions and shining flashlights behind bookshelves. Trust me, I used to live like that.
Things That Make You Happy.
This is less directly related to staying organized, but no less important. You will never use your dedicated workspace/home office if it makes you miserable to be in it. For me, a clean, mostly empty desk brings me joy, so I make a point not to let things accumulate on my desk. At the end of each day, I make sure all the items that have collected there go back to their homes. It's a 2-5 minute chore that makes all the difference in my life. But I do need some things on my desk to keep my mental health and creativity full and balanced, and for me, those things are a pretty lamp (I got mine from Bargain Hunt for 14 bucks) so that I never need the soul-sucking overhead light, a small clock (because the hours can get away from me FAST), plants (I am obsessed with plants; they keep me hopeful for spring and brighten my space), and a few photos of people I love. I also drink a LOT of tea and coffee (and don't want to clean up coffee rings off my desk), so I keep this lovely pink and gold saucer on my desk. It belonged to my grandmother with a matching teacup that has long since broken, but it fits my coffee mugs and keeps a lovely piece of my heritage close by.
I should also mention that part of my mental health for my office includes making sure it smells fresh and clean. Have I mentioned I live with three boys, 4 cats, and a dog? My house does not always smell relaxing or clean, but my office HAS GOT to. I found this tiny humidifier/diffuser on Amazon, and I keep it going with some combination of Lemongrass, lemon, and bergamot. The perfect combination of spring and freshness and a hint of a spa feeling.
This may not be for everyone, but bullet journaling has changed my life. I keep track of *EVERYTHING* in it - from my day-to-day tasks, my schedule, the books I've read (so far 7 out of my goal of 30 for the year), foods I like that are easy to prep, books I've loaned out and who has them, etc etc etc. It's basically my brain between two covers.
And just so you don't think I have a full fabulous room all myself for this office I love so much -- I really meant it when I said it's in our laundry room. Above is the view opposite my desk. :)
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