The perfect home office hub
Did you know that hundreds of thousands of people work from home full-time? And even for those who don’t, there’s often a place needed for kids to do homework, or a base station for sending emails, dealing with family paperwork and wading in that never ending stream of bills. It might be in the living room corner, the spare room or even the back shed.
Wherever you have set up your desk, you can create a home office to be proud of by maximising space and minimising the clutter - and you’ll get more done in less time.
Take small steps to big productivity
When office “stuff” stacks up, it can overwhelm you and greatly reduce your productivity. Aim for weekly mini clean-outs, but if you get behind on clearing up, don’t panic. Remember the little engine that could? Conquering your mountain of paperwork is all about small steps. Take short breaks and throw out just three – ok, five – items you don’t need and then get back to work.
Don’t over-commit to a major de-clutter if you don’t have time to follow through. The house will look cleaner but you’ll start stressing about all the work you’re not doing. Instead, pick just one file drawer or one shelf and spend 10 or 15 minutes organising that space. Then do the same with a different trouble spot the next day.
Perhaps your notice board is another eyesore of visual clutter. Howards new Umbra Magnetic Bullet Board is not only practical as it can take pins or magnets, but also looks super-sexy! If it’s become an archive of distant memories and expired events, then it’s not helping you stay productive. So remove old notices and add current items or inspirational messages.
Here’s a neat trick that’s well worth the effort for a messy home office. First, take everything off your desk except for the most essential tools of your trade and put it all in a box. Put the box in another room, like the garage. As you continue working, when you need a missing item, go to the box and retrieve it. Howards range of Easi Store plastic boxes come in a variety of sizes and are perfect for this exercise.
After a week, all the things you really need will be at your side again. Whatever is still in your storage boxes can be filed, donated, recycled or thrown away. Reward yourself with a stylish new desk set to store those essentials and encourage tidy habits.
Maximise vertical space
If you don’t have a lot of room at home for traditional office furniture, send your workspace up the wall and create a place for everything with an elfa workstation. With only one fixed top track mounted to the wall, a mix of desk, drawers, shelves and baskets, can easily hang from floor to ceiling if you like. Workspace configurations change easily to suit your projects by readjusting or adding to the wall brackets.
Away from the wall, the new elfa Freestanding range allows you to create and ‘office island’ and is an instant office, anywhere, with overhead adjustable shelving on top of a double-sided desk, all attached to a sturdy commercial grade frame. With access from two sides, your home office space can be more flexible than ever. Both the wall and freestanding styles allow you to add extra storage for display or storage as your home business or hobby grows.
How to keep your desktop sanity
Until the day we can finally celebrate the dawn of the paper-free office, keeping control of the hard copy bits and pieces that consume our desktops is just something we have to live with. In a busy home office, pruning, sorting and storing documents requires discipline. After all, any distraction seems far more attractive than re-arranging office clutter.
However, once you’ve learned to tame the paper flow with good habits and great storage, you’ll discover your desktop can actually work for you, not against you. And once that happens, you’ll have more time to mow the lawn – or recline on it in your favourite chair sipping on an afternoon cocktail.
Managing paper rule number one
Try to handle every piece of paper just once. Pick it up, read it and then either act on it, file it, delegate it or ditch it (in the recycle bin or as extra printer paper of course!). “What about the ‘to do’ tray?” we hear you ask. Flick through the pile sitting in there already and see how many pieces of paper have been sitting there for months. Or even years. Do you really need it?
The last thing you want in a small home office is to be swamped by reference material. Documents you “might need one day” can quickly take over limited storage space at the expense of your real work.
Avoid “just in case” reference clutter by hording as little as you really need. Keep articles, not entire magazines. When stories or research material appears online too, just save the links or create a PDF file. And when you do keep hard copy reference material file it straight away – not later. Then regularly check your collection for dated information and prune the overgrowth.
Desktop accessories that reflect your style
Once your paperwork is under control, you only need a few desktop accessories. Home office organisers don’t need to be grey and boring. Desk displays in rich textures add personality and professionalism.
Howards has a range of desktop organisers including the colourful Bigso Box range, the Faux Leather range or earthy, eco-friendly Bamboo Desktop Office Organisers - all of which provide a contemporary and practical organisation solution to any workstation. The formal Black Ash Organiser set includes a practical charge station and computer hardware stands to give your gadgets extra special treatment.
Blend your desktop look to match your home décor, or choose contrasting styles to distinguish your home office as a separate space.
I can see clearly now the plastic
Good, clear desktop storage gives your home office more of a professional, organised feel and is great for productivity. If you have documents that you need to keep and find quickly, store and stack in clear plastic Easi Store File Boxes. Lids can be labelled to show what’s inside. Storage boxes from the Bigso or Viola range look great and come in the right sizes for documents and office gadgets and gear.
Save space with upright file holders for reports, magazines and work in progress and archive them later. With document or magazine spines on show, identification is easy and you’ll save time when you’re too busy to search for what you need.
Finally, when you’re fitting an office space into the boundaries of a house or apartment, flexible solutions are important. A few easy ways to make your office space bend to your needs include:
- combining accessories that fit into tight places or are mobile, like drawer office trolleys
- stacking lidded file storage boxes that you need to only access now and again
- storing electronic gadgets in smaller boxes so ugly tangles are out of view
- standing magazines and reports in slim holders
- fitting custom shelves in corners to save on bulky furniture
- installing an elfa easy-build system with airy slide-out baskets to create a sense of space and let you see what’s inside