Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Month 2: Organize Your Workspace

I struggled trying to name this month's organizational project because I didn't want the title to suggest that it was all about setting up your desk. Sure, creating a bright and functional workspace is key to productivity, but it goes beyond just that. What if you have to take your "workspace" on the road! 

In this post, I want to share 5 tips that have helped me keep MY workspace {both at home and on the road} organized and functional. I am by no means an expert in this department, and I am always open to new ideas, so feel free to post a comment on this thread if YOU have a great tip to share.

1. Find a Nook

Whether you have an office all to yourself or a tiny little nook in your bedroom…it's important to find a space where you can set up shop. For many years, my workspace at home was a little computer cabinet that I had tucked into my bedroom. I used it in college in my tiny apartment and I used it again when I sacrificed my office space at home to give my babies a playroom.

This little nook served every purpose I needed at the time. It gave me a space to work, a place to house my ridiculous sticky note and stationery collection, my printer, and even a few other office odds and ends. It was organized, it was functional and it was TEENY TINY!! Which just goes to show you that you don't have to have a big room, or even a big space to get your work done. You just need a landing pad. 

2. Have Everything Important Within Your Reach

About 2 years ago, when my mom and I decided to open our shop and my kids were old enough to have their playroom in the basement, I decided to reclaim our spare bedroom and turn it into my dream office/craft room. My Dad helped me design it and every nook and cranny was custom made for my needs.

When my Dad and I were designing the office, I just kept thinking about my sweet little computer cabinet. How easy it was to work in that space because everything I needed was right within my reach. 

I knew I wanted the same setup in this new office, so my dad added some very important detail to my desk area…a shelf above my computer space, supply drawers to my left and a file cabinet to my right.

Now, when I sit at my desk and work, I can reach all of my important files, pens and paper for jotting down notes and of course, my various binders and planners. 

And you don't need a fancy custom desk to achieve this. Ikea carries incredibly inexpensive shelves that would work perfectly above any desk, and if you want a good tip, Garage Sale Season is the perfect time to find inexpensive file cabinets, desks and if you are lucky…a fun computer cabinet :-)

Just remember when you are planning your workspace, make sure the things that are important and get used every day are within your reach. It saves you time and keeps those pesky piles of papers from taking over your desk. 

3. It's All About the Planner

It's no secret that I am a Planner Junkie. I have been for the better part of 15 years and I am fairly certain I was obsessed with paper and notebooks long before I owned my first Franklin Covey. And although I like to joke that it is an addiction for me, using a planner is a necessity in my life. In college, I only had one. Just one little planner that had my whole world inside of it. 

But now, as a Mommy, teacher and shop owner…my organizational needs have changed. I do still carry a personal planner {that holds my calendars, health & fitness pages, travel info, etc.} and I also have a Home Management Binder {that holds all of the kids' school and activities schedules and paperwork, important contact information, etc.} 

But for my two jobs…I have found that it makes the most sense to give them their own planners. That way, when it's time to head to campus and teach or attend a workshop, I can grab my Lesson Planner and head out the door. No more fumbling around for the papers I need or the notes I've taken. They are all in one place in their own planner.

I also do this with my Etsy business now. I find that having all of my documents in one place makes it easier to stay organized and track more efficiently {you can read all about how I organize my Etsy and Small Business Planner here}. 

I have also found that keeping track of my business receipts and paperwork in a labeled accordion file is a lot more organized then tossing them into a big file drawer.

I also keep my planner and file folder together above my desk so that when I do my book keeping, I have them within my reach.

Having a portable system like this allows me to grab my business and take it on the go when I need to work away from home.

For those of you in the Direct Sales Business, you know first hand how important it is to have everything with you when you do home shows, events, trade shows and conferences. You can read about the Direct Sales Planner we have available in the shop now and hopefully it is something that you can use to make your portable system more efficient and organized.

4. Find the Perfect Portable Workspace

Speaking of being on the go…raise your hand if you are constantly on a quest for the perfect work bag? Are you raising your hand? Me too. Or at least I was until I stumbled upon the most perfect portable workspace at The Container Store.

I have always been a big fan of Reisenthel products. They hold up to EVERYTHING and they always have fabulous patterns and designs. When I saw their Small Allrounder Bag, the first thing I thought was…"It's a Mary Poppins Bag!"

And that it is, my friends. Because I am an adjunct instructor, I don't have my own classroom on campus. All of my textbooks (I have to carry at least 3), my lesson planner, all of my dry erase markers, school supplies, umbrella and other essentials need to be toted back and forth to work with me. I happily own a closet full of different work bags, some that I still love very much, but the ONE THING that drives me absolutely crazy about most work bags is that things fall to the bottom. I also can't get them open wide enough to search for the things I need while I am teaching. 

But this bag…I could practically crawl inside.

It is PACKED with pockets on all sides to hold my pens, markers, supplies, umbrella, water bottle and more. And the center holds my Lesson Planner, 3 textbooks, 2 folders and my personal planner WITH ROOM TO SPARE!! At has a nice wide bottom so it sits right without toppling over and just LOOK HOW OPEN IT IS!! I really can't say enough about this bag or how perfect it has been as my portable workspace/classroom.

If you are on the hunt for a new work bag, I highly recommend you check this one out, especially at the $34 price point. But if that is still out of your budget, just remember that the same concepts for your home workspace should apply to your portable one. Everything you need should be within your reach. You shouldn't have to dig to the bottom of a big bag or scramble to find the things you need when you are on the job. The bag should be nice and open, have lots of pockets, and plenty of space for your necessities and a few fun accessories. 

And speaking of accessories…you see that adorable lime green chevron sleeve my planner is in? That is one of our newest products!! After ruining too many beautiful planners with scratches, ink stains and water marks…my mom decided she needed to create something to protect our planners in and out of our bags. So friends, I give you our...

They are now available in our shop in multiple sizes and you can check them out HERE.

5. Be Open To Trial & Error

If I told you how many times I have rearranged my office, or how many work bags I have bought and tried, or how many planners I have sitting in my closet…you would know just how big a fan I am of Trial & Error. What works for one person and their job, doesn't always work for another person. And, what may have worked for you at one stage in your life, may not work for you now. 

Creating a workspace that is adaptable to your changing needs is so important and you may find yourself trying something new every week until you get it right. And that's okay!! That's the process of organizing…trying new things until you find a system and a setup that you can stick with!! For me, designating a workspace {regardless of it's size}, having important things within my reach, creating multiple planner systems to organize my home and my career and of course, making it all portable are necessities. It's how I work best and I only know this because I have spent a lot of time discovering what didn't work.

So..if all of you could share one tip for organizing your workspace, either in your office or on the go, what would it be? Sharing is caring :-)

Well I hope you have enjoyed this months organizational project, even though I am getting it in under the wire :-) But stay tuned for Month 3…it's all about SPRING CLEANING!!! Woohoo!!!


  1. Your office/work space is lovely. Seeing the books on the top shelf really made me smile and made me want to read those books again. Thank you for sharing!

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