There’s nothing quite like creative chaos… until it takes over your life and you find yourself scrambling to find a pencil, a pen, anything to write with. You settle on a broken crayon and wonder how you let your home office or studio become such a mess.
It happens to the best of us. However, a home-based workspace is more susceptible to mess, for a number of reasons. Psychologically, we might not be as motivated or equipped to clean it up. We don’t have colleagues or a boss that we worry will see our creative disaster, and we often don’t have the various office accouterment that tends to come with our cubicle. How, then can we keep our home workspace a clutter-free productivity zone?
Here are some tips on how to best organize your space — and motivate yourself to keep it clean.
Get everything into containers
Your cubicle’s desk is probably one of those ugly grey contraptions with multiple drawers, a pinboard or magnetic whiteboard, and a filing cabinet that you never use. Home-office desks and art tables don’t tend to have those things, so piles of supplies and files are almost inevitable.
However, you can keep everything both stowed away and easily accessed by keeping them in containers in plain sight. In fact, tucking things into drawers might worsen your problem. We all have that Bermuda Triangle of a junk drawer. Avoid that issue by giving everything a place right out in the open.
Here are some examples of containers you can purchase or repurpose.
Old mugs. While you can buy inexpensive yet pretty pencil cups, you can also salvage your chipped or cracked coffee mugs. Store pencils, paintbrushes, Sharpies, highlighters, and other tall, thin objects in old mugs.
Desk organizers. As the name suggests, you can use these to organize your desk. They’re great for holding sticky notes, notepads, pens, and other office tools. You can also use them on your artist table to hold sketchbooks, sponges, adhesives, or even small palettes.
Jars. Got old food jars that you’ve been meaning to put out in the recycling? Wash and dry them well, then use them to hold small objects that tend to get scattered around: rubber bands, safety pins, paper clips, pushpins, etc. For a crafty twist, papier-mâché them with old book pages or wrapping paper and decorate with ribbon.
Spice racks. You can easily find spice racks of various styles at thrift shops. Their compact, sturdy design makes them suitable for holding pretty much anything that fits. This spice rack is currently holding bottles of Tacky Glue. The downward angle makes them ready to use at any moment.
If you can, invest in a hutch for your desk and use wire stacking shelf units to transform it into a storage destination. This gets things off your desk and up the wall.
Use inexpensive plastic shoeboxes to hold supplies, then stack them in your hutch. Feel free to repurpose small gift boxes or pencil boxes for compact storage options.
Another option is to install a series of hooks on your wall and hang up your supplies. Many notepads, clipboards, and sketchpads come with a hole at the top — that’s what it’s there for! You can also use several small reusable bags to hold items, then simply hang them on the hooks.
Create a filing system
Even if you despise filing cabinets (we don’t blame you), you need to sort your papers, drafts, sketches, canvases, and other materials. Try an open-faced filing system for easy access. As a bonus, this approach keeps you from “filing” things away into oblivion.
Use multiple sorting trays to store files, and prominently label folders so that you can instantly see what’s in them.
You can also use desktop file organizers to keep important documents close at hand, or repurpose them to hold canvases, sketchpads, palette paper, and other artist supplies.
Then, take note of what’s where. It might be helpful to create a Quick Reference Guide on a sticky note to remind yourself of where your key project files are currently living.
After you’ve cleaned up and organized your home office or studio, take time after each working session to clean it up, even if it’s just a few minutes to toss pencils into your old mug or shuffle a few papers into their appropriate file. When inspiration strikes, you don’t want to walk into your creative space and feel like you have to clean up first — or not even know where your sketchpad is to start! A few minutes of tidying is worth many more in productivity.
What organization tips do you have for your home office or studio? Share with us in the comments, or post your tips and tag us on Insta for a chance to win a free creative coaching session!