If you have a small work or home office, here are a few tips that can help you to maximize the available space.
Clear the Clutter
A cluttered office is a problem for anyone. It is an even bigger problem when you have a limited amount of space to deal with. Whether your office is big or small, you want to take a few steps to de-clutter your workspace.
Take a look at your office and decide what absolutely has to be there. You know you need your desk and computer, but do you really need that large chair or bookcase? There may be a more efficient, space-saving alternative to some of the items in your office.
You want an uncluttered work surface as well. Figure out what you have to have on your desk. Generally, if it isn’t something you use every day to make your work easier, it doesn’t deserve a place on your desk. Get rid of personal mementos like pictures and other knickknacks. If you want these items in the office, find a better place for them such as the wall or on a shelf. You want your desk to allow for minimal distraction and maximum productivity.
Deal with paperwork. Tackle that stack of papers that’s been sitting on your desk. Documents that you no longer need should be thrown away and/or shredded. Throwing out unneeded papers can get rid of a lot of the clutter in an office. Filing cabinets can also be a big clutter problem ironically since they are supposed to be a clutter solution. Go through cabinet drawers and remove anything that is no longer current or needed.
Where Things Go and Thinking Vertically
De-cluttering is the first step. Now you need to know where to put all of your stuff. The main goal when deciding where to put things is to keep the supplies that you use most often easily accessible and close by. Things that you don’t use as frequently should be placed further away from your main work area.
Have a special place for all of your bills. Once a bill is paid, file any paperwork for later use. All papers need to have their own home for quick reference.
Don’t spread your supplies all over the place either. It’s best to think vertically instead of horizontally when it comes to your office materials. Build up instead of out. This will help you keep things together and give you more space. One way to do this is by using your wall space. Mount a bulletin board, install a pegboard or a wire grid, and set up shelving to maximize storage space. You might also want to mount your computer monitor onto the wall so that you have more desk space.
When everything has a designated place, you can use your small office space in the best possible way.
Space Saving Office Furniture & Supplies
Every office will probably have a desk, filling cabinet, computer set up and a good ergonomic chair. When you have a small office you could use small furniture to maximize your available space. Avoid heavy, bulky furniture and choose slim, modern, ergonomically designed desks, computers, chairs and filing systems instead. Multi-purpose furniture is a must when working with a small space. A desk that has plenty of drawers and compartments for organizing and can function as a filing cabinet and shelf will help you to save space. If you still need more room for files, consider getting a portable plastic file cabinet that can be rolled out of the way. And instead of having a printer, fax machine, and scanner, invest in a multifunction printer.
You can also find and invest in office organization supplies available at office supply stores and chain retailers. There are all kinds of plastic trays and caddies out there to use, including those that can fit nicely inside a desk drawer. These items can help you to keep your office supplies organized so that you know where to look when it’s time to find something. Stacking trays are another option and are ideal for an “inbox” and “outbox” when trying to keep your desktop neat. There are also desktop organization supplies meant for pens and pencils. Before buying any of these items however, figure out what you need to get your workspace organized and to allow for maximum office space.
General Storage Tips
Along with the principle of thinking vertically, there are a few other storage tips to keep in mind when organizing your workspace.
Do you have wasted space underneath a table or desk? This is a great place for storage boxes or containers filled with office supplies, documents, promotional items, bills, etc.
Don’t put something somewhere because “it fits.” Think about when and where you would want to look for those items and organize your space accordingly.
Create a user-friendly filing system. Figure out a system that works for you in most cases. A good idea is to create separate filing areas for different categories of your work (finances, clients, marketing, administrative, etc.)
When making use of your walls, think about building shelves from the floor to the ceiling to allow for more storage space. You could also place shelves just above your desktop that can hold your printer, books, and other supplies. By incorporating shelves (starting about 20 inches above the desk surface) your supplies will be within easy reach while sitting at the desk without the nuisance of minimizing your work area.
Store as much as you can on your computer. This can greatly minimize paperwork and unwanted clutter, giving you more space.
Use the space behind your office door. There are special shelves that can hang over the back of your door, or you could even use a shoe bag to store some office supplies.
Use Office Décor to Your Advantage
Your office décor can either help you or hurt you when it comes to how big or small your office “feels.”
Paint your office with “delicate” colors to provide you with the illusion of more space. Dark colors may be more fashionable, but they tend to make rooms look smaller. The lighter the paint color, the more open a space will appear. White will actually maximize your space while black with close it in. You should also consider using shades of the same color when painting your small office. By incorporating different shades of one color on your office walls you can introduce variety to the room without making it appear smaller.
You also want to make sure that your office has the right type of lighting, lighting that can make your office appear more open. If possible, replace table and floor lamps with wall fixtures. This not only offers the illusion of more space, it actually offers more space. Track or recessed lighting works best in small offices. You should also get rid of heavy draperies. You want to let natural light in as much as possible.
Flooring can also make a difference when it comes to the openness of a room. Narrow floor boards make small rooms appear busy and clutters. Wide plank floors add visual character and are easy to clean. Wider floor boards open up smaller spaces. A lighter colored floor will also make the room appear larger.
If you can incorporate mirrors, this is another way to make a room feel bigger. Put a mirror in front of a window to reflect light and color. You could also put several smaller mirrors up on one wall.
Those not everyone agrees, sometimes putting furniture on angles instead of against a wall works well for a small room. The reasoning behind this is that the longest distance in any room is diagonal. If your furniture is angled, the eye naturally follows that long line. You want to avoid have a lot of small pieces of furniture scattered about the room as well.
Avoid have too many prints in a small office. They have a tendency to catch the eye and make the room appear cluttered.
Having a small office isn’t the end of the world. By taking a few of these simple steps, you can maximize your space and even improve your comfort and productivity levels.