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Friday, November 26, 2010

Not Enough Space?

Having an office away from the house is ideal, but for us, working from home is realistic. However, some of us don't have much space and often, our work is spread throughout house and when that one really important paper or order or interview [or insert your own misplaced important information here] comes up missing, we realize: our work needs its own space.

For me to simply say use a spare closet is silly. Who has a "spare" closet?  I didn't when I had seven kids and an extra mother at home and I do not now. In fact, I'll be so bold to say, I doubt I'll ever have a spare closet because somehow, someway, I will fill it up to the brim and force the door to close. Then I'll pray no one dares open it.

There are ways around it.  You can always pare down to basics, empty a closet, set up a TV tray or book shelf, and have instant storage for your products, a place to file paperwork, perhaps, even a mini desk (if you still use desktop computers, it's possible to get that in there, as well, but probably it's elsewhere... one of the pitfalls).

Set up a simple card table in the corner of a room. Some of us have available corners, others do not.  Find a place, any place.  You can have a chair to work, use half of the table for items you need daily (pens, stapler, paper) and the other half as your workspace.  Under the table, away from your feet, store your files. You may need to keep products elsewhere, if your business requires products on hand.

Let me say that if you have so many products, there simply is no room at all, it's possible your place of business is not the problem, providing your intentions are to be at home working. It may be that your home business is a bit unrealistic.  Some businesses are NOT meant to do from home (and that's okay).

Another wonderful item is a simple TALL bookcase. Utilize the height on the top of the walls, by building higher rather than wider.  If you have bigger items, put them on the bottom so that their sticking out won't look so bad, if that's what you are worried about (I'd rather you worry about whether someone is going to trip over it or bump into it).  Use trays to group things you use together. It's easy to take the tray down, work at the kitchen table, and put it back. Nice, easy, quick.  You can use open files (no lids, as nice as they look, they will be a hassle in the long run) or use in/out boxes.  How you fill it is unique and a no brainer, these are merely suggestions.

One thing I cannot stress enough: be willing to change and adapt as needed.

If keeping your pencils and pens separate seemed like a great idea and looked great but isn't working; change it. Change it until it works for you-if it doesn't work for you, it works against you.

Our kitchen is always a work in progress. When we moved (we've moved three times in less than a year's time), I requested the cupboard and shelf plans in advance and pre-placed everything.  It looked good and it was reasonable.  Until we used the cookie supplies, all these months later and we still did not have a clue how difficult it would be to get out and put away (for the kids).  I thought of alternatives and found nothing better, which made me think another way. What would work better in the place of the cookie utensils?  Nothing.  Next, I asked myself, "Self, how often do you use these cookie things?"

"Use" turns out to be the key.  We seldom use these items. Knowing that nothing fit in their place better than they did, and that we rarely use them, why not keep them where they are and have a bit of discomfort (for lack of a better word) once or twice a year?

Using the kitchen again, our spices are in a cupboard near the stove, where we cook (never over it).  It stands to reason the sugars and flours would be there, as well.  But I rarely use cinnamon, sugar, flour, sprinkles, etc. while I cook and the cupboard doesn't hold it all anyway. I tried moving it to the larger cupboard by the side of the sink.  When anyone cooked, the spices would invariably be left near the stove, rather than being put away.  I asked why and knew it was because as easy as it is, too many steps to do such a small thing was, well, too many, which led to too many more, now that we'd have to go back later, put them all away, and then some.

Who says all the spices have to be together?  We grabbed all the spices we cook with and put them near the stove. The others, mainly used in baking (where you put everything together outside the oven, mix, or what-have-you), were stored in the larger one by the sink. We call that the baking cupboard. We've included pancake mix, flaxseed, baking mixes, etc., and it works. For us. Whatever works for you, is a blessing.

The point is, create your space the best you can. When it works, it works and do not mess with it. When it does not work, don't fight it and force yourself to make it work, change it until you get it right.

Use the space you do have and use it wisely. For my home businesses, I use the area behind the door, and the wall near the bathroom.  For my writing, I use my table and the space below it holds my files. It's all neat, organized, and usable.

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