Our home office space is right in the middle of our terrace house. Wedged between the kitchen and the lounge/dining area, it’s a dark and uninspiring area that over the years has become increasingly cluttered with books and papers. More and more, I’m choosing to sit on my bed with my laptop rather than face the dark mess area that is our ‘study’. This weekend, we’re redoing the space and I’m super excited. As well as collating a Pinterest board full of pretty inspiration, I asked organising expert Amanda Lecaude what I can do to make the most of my study area.
What are some points people often overlook when creating a home office space?
1. The importance of keeping all stationery supplies together is often overlooked, as people think they have run out of something, but actually haven’t – they just can’t find it.
2. Know what you want the home office space to achieve and be used for. Ask questions such as: what will you be doing in this space? Who will be using this space? What type of work needs to be done? What equipment is required? What needs to be stored in this space i.e. filing, papers, books, stationery, chargers etc?
3. Ensure there’s enough storage space for what’s required. There’s nothing worse than setting up a space and then realising there aren’t enough drawers or cupboards to hold what it needs to and then items need to be stored elsewhere. This makes it less efficient and effective when using the office space.
4. Another point that I often think is overlooked, which is to do with the electronic side of things, is ensuring they have a good back up system in place. Most of my clients struggle with this and either don’t have anything, or have a back up system that works well for some occasions but not all i.e. if the house burnt down or if they were burgled. I usually include this in any discussion I have when organising an office space.
For parents who would like to share a home office space with their child, what are the main things they need to consider?
The space needs to be big enough or kept clear to accommodate all members. Each person, including parents, needs to take responsibility for keeping that space clean, tidy and free of clutter. If children need to do homework and the space is cluttered, it can be a distraction. The same can be said for parents. My suggestion is that the desk is always kept clear and things are put away by whoever it might be at the end of day or their work session. Ensure the ground rules are established and agreed upon by each family member from the outset
1. It’s important to have a study space that allows kids to not only be efficient, but effective at the same time. Ideally, this is in a quiet and well lit space, though it’s different for some kids as they like to be in amongst it.
2. You could have different spaces for different occasions i.e. when younger siblings are home, they might need to go to another room, and when they aren’t they could use the kitchen table.
3. Have a place at home where you store all your school work – magazine boxes are good for this. I encourage students to always put their work in the same place so they don’t lose anything.
4. Ensure the space has all the necessary supplies they are likely to require – stock up on age-appropriate supplies such as pens, pencils, erasers, rulers and sharpeners, so as to avoid last minute trips to the store. What’s your number one practical tip for maintaining a fresh home office?
My number one tip is spending the extra five or 10 minutes at the end of the day, or at the end of its use, to put supplies, papers and files away. Maintenance is the key to not letting any space get out of control.
What’s one home office item that people think they need (but really don’t)?
In my experience, when working with clients in this space, usually they have too much stationery. Often because it’s unorganised and cluttered, they think they have run out of something but haven’t. The other thing I often find is that they often purchase a variety of different products they think will get them organised. Often what looks great in the store may not work for them and usually they waste money. I regularly take things away from clients and donate them i.e. binders and filing drawers. Lastly, what’s the best way to deal with mountains of ugly filing/paperwork?
My first suggestion is ensuring a system is set up to deal with it from this point forward, so that you don’t continue to add to the pile of filing/paperwork. It’s important to have regular routines in place to deal with the incoming paper and electronic information. I have a ‘one touch’ rule for paperwork, where you deal with it at the time, only once, i.e. rsvp to an invitation immediately. Some people are pilers and can survive quite well and know where all the bits of paper are.
However, the majority of people constantly paper shuffle and waste valuable time looking for things. Once they have a regular process/system in place, then they can find some time to tackle the backlog of paper. People also need to rethink what they are keeping and why. 85 percent of paperwork filed never sees the light of day again.
Thank you for your tips Amanda! You can find more help from Amanda at Organising You.