It's my first personal organize workshop! Sorry about the delay in my posting. I hope this one was worth the wait.
I had so much fun working on this home office. Check out these great before and after images to see what we did. Before pics are on the left, after pics are on the right throughout the post.
>> What made this a successful makeover?
A friend of mine was ready for this process and took things into her own hands after I got her started. Here's what she did to make this happen.
1) She was willing to think about the space and her things differently. I asked her some of these types of questions: Do you really need all of these books at your finger tips in your personal space every day? Could some go into long term storage? Could you put some in other places in your home? Can you get rid of some that you never use any longer? Do you need two desks? How much storage do you need?
2) She was motivated to do homework. I gave her some assignments and things to think about. She was willing and able to do things on her own and didn't need me to do each step for her.
3) She had some ideas of her own. Some of the things that she wanted for her newly organized space: a standing desk, a place to hang up her favorite postcards and family photos, a tv, the ability to find and use things in her closet, a big space on the floor for working and a comfortable chair. She also wanted to keep her Grandmother's antique rolltop desk for office storage.
>> What did we have to do to take the first step?
1) Identify what was working and not working in the space. She was not able to find things in her closet, or on her desks. She was using the desk surface as a storage area instead of a working surface. There was not enough lighting. She was using the floor as a storage system and there were so many books it was hard to get to what she needed.
Keep in mind, there is usually always a reason for these behaviors. Maybe you are storing things on your desk because you don't have a good place to store them elsewhere. Maybe you are not using some of your things because you can't find them or they are too hard to access. Try and figure out what the root problem is so you can find the best solutions.
Once we started looking through what was there, it was easier for her to identify what she really needed.
2) Moving a lot out of the space. She did not get rid of all of her books, furniture and things, but was able to donate a lot. She also repurposed some of the furniture to different spaces in her home.
3) Categorizing everything in the room: These are the general categories that usually pop up:
-I use it all the time
-I never use it
-I sometimes use it
-I don’t use it, but don’t want to get rid of it
-I’m not sure what to do with this
For the things that she did not know what to do with, I encouraged her to start an outbox. This theory comes from apartmenttherapy.com. The outbox can be a physical box or an entire room. Put the things in there that you don't know what to do with or are not sure if you want to get rid of them. In one week, see if you miss anything or even remember what you put in there. If you don't, then you can feel good about getting rid of them because you probably don't have a very big attachment. If you did miss something, bring it back in and put it in a place where you can find it and use it in the future. Think about how you will use it in the space. For example, we moved her paper shredder to her closet so it is easier to reach and she can see what she is doing because there is proper lighting there.
4) Identifying problem areas. After going through most of the items in the room, we realized that she has a special affinity for office supplies, stationery, journals and address books. There is nothing wrong with that, except when you can't find them when needed. My suggestion was to only keep the ones she really loves and then try and not go into stores for awhile that sell these items. If you can limit your access, you won't be tempted to buy them in the first place. Because I do think it is important to treat yourself to things you really love and use, consider shopping for them once or twice a year and really splurge on something special. Then plan on not shopping for them again until you need more or run out.
>> What were the next steps?
1) Focusing on what we can do right now. Think about each step individually to break everything down into manageable steps. First do the things that you can affect right away. We moved books and magazines out of the room so we could see what was really going on with the rest of the space. It took us less than an hour to clear out almost half of the room.
2) We set up systems for paperwork, magazines, mail, books and work vs personal projects. I have more ideas on paperwork, paperwork systems, magazine and book organizing and purging from some of my previous posts.
Because she really does read and use her books and magazines, I understand that it doesn't make sense to get rid of them. But I suggested limiting how many she keeps in her office at one time. We created a magazine storage area in her closet that can store one year's worth of each title she subscribes to. Once the year is over, she'll need to decide what issues she needs to keep in long term storage and which she can recycle. This will free up the shelf for newer issues coming in.
3) Plans for the big stuff. We talked about which furniture should stay, which should go and what would work instead. Enlist help when you can to move things out. My friend really wanted a standing desk and was able to get one that fit her space well.
>> Final steps?
1) Review systems to see if they are working or need additional tweaks. We reviewed the magazine system to see if it felt like too much, or not enough space for magazines coming into the office. Feel free to change things as needed to suit your style or habits best.
2) Does the space fit your original intention? If not, what else needs to happen? As you can see, we were able to accommodate everything in the room that was on her wish list. A successful room make over!
Thank you for the opportunity to work on this office. It was such a treat to share tips on how to organize your life, in person.