The Minimalist Office

Over the years I’ve posted pictures of my office, usually to the horror and amusement of everyone, especially Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Noted Neat Freak, who always replies by posting pictures of her lavish office which is professional and spotless.  If you haven’t see the pictures ( 2005 here, 2007 here, 2016 here) my office always looks like Staples threw up in it.  But my entire cottage has now reached critical mass, so I’m rethinking everything, including whether I even need an office (“Why do we even HAVE this lever?”). 

I’ve decided I don’t.

Every winter it gets really cold here.  (Still haven’t replaced the single-pane windows, and plastic and thermal curtains can only do so much.)  So I retire to the guest bedroom, aka Krissie’s room, which is 10×10 with doors (my office is open concept to the max), crack up a small heater and the electric mattress pad, and spend January and February in bed with my laptop.  So today I looked at the stuff that had migrated in with me, which was pretty much pens and graph paper.   The water carafe and cup, pens, power cords, and rechargers were already in here (I run a great guest room),  Which made me think: what else would I need to move in here to have a minimalist but fully functioning office?

I came up with the printer, the scanner, printer paper and ink, both black and red fine point Sharpies. my clipboards with paper, and of course Post-Its, without which I cannot function.

When I asked Krissie what else a minimal office would need, she added clips (paper & binder clips of various sizes), pencils, eraser, non-sharpie gel pens,  a stapler, staple remover, scissors and scotch tape, plus blank notebooks, legal pad, 3 ring binders and a three hole puncher.   I added the stapler even though I probably wouldn’t use it, the scissors and the tape, but I draw the line at blank notebooks because I buy them (SO PRETTY) and then use graph paper.  Same with legal pads: GRAPH PAPER OR DIE.  Binders and a three-hole punch can stay in the workroom where I lost them months ago.  

Then I added envelopes, stamps, and cards/stationary because they’re the one thing that doesn’t overlap between crafts and office.

It was a much longer list than I’d realized, too much to drag into a 10’x 10′ guestroom, but easily confined to a narrow table with one shelf and a wall unit in the living room beside the front door, which is where I drop the mail now, except it’s on a chair and I lose it..  Of course, all that office stuff is an ugly look for a living room, but I can work around that.  I spent too much money on a wall unit I’m probably going to use forever that will hold most of it.  The table is an old mission couch table I spray-painted white ages ago so it’ll look good.  I bought a stapler and craft knives that are blue, a tape dispenser that’s a concrete rabbit, and a post-it dispenser that’s a bear, and I can put everything else into pretty cups and boxes. I’m gong to try covering the printer and scanner with contact paper.  I won’t be fooling anybody that it’s posh home decor, but it should look fun, and most important, I’ll actually be able to find the stuff I actually use.  And since I’m posting here about it, I’ll have to actually DO it because one of you will demand a picture.  (There’s always one who wants a picture.)

I’ll tackle the work room later.  Argh.

Here’s my list:

OFFICE NEEDS:

Bottom Shelf of Table:
Printer
Scanner
Printer paper
Graph paper

Wall Organizer:
Printer Ink
Rechargers
Cables
Black and Red Sharpie Pens
Pen Cups
Blue Stapler
Blue Scissors
Craft Knives
Envelopes
Stamps
Note Cards
More Note Cards
Graph/Grid Index Cards

Table top:
Bear with Post-its
Rabbit Tape Dispenser

So what did I miss?  What can I get rid of that’s not really necessary?

Better yet, what’s on your list?

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75 thoughts on “The Minimalist Office

  1. Posh decor is for when Hallo come by to take photos of your charming abode or you don’t actually use anything and everything is swathed in dust covers to keep it perfect. As my mother says if you have pets or children, don’t bother with the expensive stuff.

    Everyone needs a functioning office where you know where things are and it is just quirky and fun enough to make you smile. My room is a train wreck, but unlike my sister I always know where my scissors, sellotape, ruler, pens, origami paper and computer are. I always have problems with my pencils and erasers going awol so they are in a little pencil case so I can spot them easily and I have a lap desk/tray I bought to use with my laptop, but actually put on my bed and use as a flat surface to draw or origami. My knitting is within arms length of my bed.

    Hmm if I put my writing stuff next to the bed this year I might actually start writing again.

    0

    1. I highly recommend writing in bed on the laptop.

      I also love “sellotape.” English is flattening out so much thanks to the internet and TV, but every now and then there’s a word that just says “England” to me. That’s one of them.

      4+

  2. I’ve been planning what goes where in the little house I’m buying (hopefully: the purchase is still stalled). I’m going to fit a single bed into the spare room/office – which is only 8ft x 7ft. I’m getting rid of my filing cabinet, and storing my admin stuff in folders and box files on two Ikea pine shelving units. One of these will also act as an extension to my desk (a 4ft x 2.5ft Ikea table). The desk is for my 27in iMac, essential for my photography and editing.

    I intend to get a shelf built above my desk and on the opposite wall, running above the door, for extra storage. I need space to store all the research I’ve done over the years, which I hope to use to create books in the future.

    Under the bed I’ll store framing and art materials – paper, mount board, etc. My film photography (slides, negatives and reference prints) is going into the roof space. (I need to go through the thousands of images and scan the ones I want to keep. Sometime.) I’ll also store familiy history stuff and lengths of material up there.

    I’m planning to use a second Ikea table in the living room, by a window, as a work table for design work, collating proofs (those jobs are rare now), and sewing or art projects. It’ll be a dining table when I invite friends over. My non-fiction will also live in this room, and I’ll have my favourite proof-reading/writing/reading chair by the patio doors to the garden.

    I didn’t think at first I was going to have room for a bed in the office, but I really want a spare room in addition to the sofabed in the living room: it’s much better for friends who stay to have their own room, even if it’s tiny. So I’m being ruthless about how much paper I need to keep, and I think it’ll work. Living in this flat has been helpful: my computer’s in my bedroom, and I do most of my work in the living room.

    2+

    1. I think a daybed in an office is as essential as a desk because I agree that guests need a space with a door. There are Murphy beds on the market with built-in desks; the desk folds up when the bed pulls down.

      4+

      1. The only trouble with that is you can’t leave anything on the desk. That would be a problem for me.

        1+

        1. Not necessarily. My aunt has one that swings down underneath -you don’t clear the desk at all. Even the electronics stay put, it’s amazing.

          2+

      2. My office is our son’s (rather small) old bedroom . I have my desk in there, with various bookshelves and cabinets for storage (no closets here in Germany…). But, since the offspring occasionally comes home and needs a place to sleep, and because we often have guests, I got a (Hemnes) daybed from Ikea which can be pulled out into a double bed. Best part: it has 3 large drawers in it, two of which contain a sizeable yarn stash (the third contains some of Son’s left-behind clothes).

        My office is somewhere in between yours, Jenny, and SEP’s, although probably closer to SEP’s end of the spectrum. (I’m a Virgo, what can I say? haha) I do have occasional lapses but in general I can have it presentable in about 10 minutes. Partly due to my penchant for buying boxes and baskets to collect things in.

        0

  3. (-: Well, of course, we want a picture. In your own time, of course.

    I travel to a lot of different schools, so my minimalist office supplies are contained in the top two pockets of my knapsack, and an extra bag that I got a 100-yen shop. They include magnets and aspirin, which you probably don’t need, and lots of little plastic sealable bags (about 1 1/2 inch by 2 or 3 inches?) to hold little flash cards, paper clips, rubber bands and other little things I need. I think I’ve got post-it notes, but I wind up using the recycled bits of white construction paper (cut to about business card size) that every school winds up with. I like the weight, and I like the way my pen glides across it. Sometimes I score some fancy colored paper!

    One advantage is that if I should happen to need a craft knife or post-its or other item that I only use rarely, I can get or borrow a few from the school I’m at that day. If I’m at home, I raid my husband’s well-appointed office.

    My mom always used a fishing box for her sewing supplies; I wonder if a sewing box would be the answer to my school supplies? Or maybe a fishing box? It would make it very portable, that’s for sure.

    I do need to get my letter-writing stuff organized. It’s always agony at card-sending time to round up a working pen, and an envelope — no, the right-sized envelope; no, one that isn’t see-through, glue to seal the envelopes, tape because I don’t trust the glue to work; oh god, a stamp. The only thing that is easily accessible is the kitchen scale that I use to make sure I haven’t gone over limits on the weight. This could ALL be contained in a simple box.

    Maybe March I’ll tackle this. Right now, I’m slowly working my way through about ten years of teaching materials and related stationery, crafts and memoribilia. I probably don’t need any of it, but at least I’m reducing it down.

    1+

    1. I almost bought a diaper bag the other day because it had pockets and places to stash things and it was an Amazon deal. Then I remembered I already have twelve thousand bags and didn’t. I kind of regret it; a good bag with pockets can be a portable office/medicine chest/pantry.

      3+

      1. I had a great Land’s End diaper bag. I’m not sure why I stopped using it. I found the changing pad to be oddly useful! Cushioning stuff, emergency seating, that sort of thing. And, oh, the pockets. And the drink pocket!

        Maybe you should throw out six thousand of the more useless bags, and buy two really nice diaper bags! (They would work great for bug-out bags, too. You know, nuclear missiles, hurricanes, or just emergency hospital visits.)

        (-: This is why I never get anything done. Now I want to abandon Decluttering Plan #1 and spend the next few evenings searching for the diaper bag. I think I’m going to try and control myself.

        3+

          1. Oh, that’s a nice diaper bag. None of the diaper bags looked like that when my babies needed one! I would have looked a sight, though. Front-packing baby, and back-packing half my house.

            My current office-in-a-bag is this one from Witzman. https://www.amazon.com/Witzman-Canvas-Backpack-Rucksack-6617/dp/B0194A060U/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?ie=UTF8&qid=1515991279&sr=8-1-spons&keywords=witzman+backpack&psc=1

            If you scroll down, you can see the inner pockets and other delightful temptations. It’s almost perfect for me; all I really miss is a couple of water bottle pockets. I really love the side-handle — it made travelling on the plane with it so handy.

            The bag before was a Lululemon (sp?) one with too many pockets. I would have never believed before that there was such a thing as too many pockets, but this one had them. I was constantly rediscovering secret pockets, and some little useful items I’d stuck in them. It was a HEAVY bag, too (secret pockets with secret items — I never knew what I was carrying). A lot of the features sounded great in theory (like a zippered false bottom that was waterproof for storing swimsuits), but never quite got used. I think my brain can keep track of eight compartments per bag. Any more than that, and I start carting around more stuff than I remember having.

            Anyway, it started peeling (100 percent genuine Naugahyde, it was, from sustainably sourced Naugas), and I finally got rid of it about three years after I should have trashed it.

            2+

        1. When my kids were little, I actually sewed the edges together of a Lands’ End diaper changing pad to make a laptop sleeve. Doesn’t fit my current laptop, but that was the best case I ever had–waterproof, padded.

          2+

          1. !

            What a brilliant idea, Elizabeth C.! Well, if I do run across my old diaper bag, I’ll try that, if it fits my laptop. I have a feeling that diaper changing pad might be a tad too small either way.

            1+

    2. I use a plastic fishing tackle box for painting supplies, for the admittedly rare time I am trying to do plein air painting or taking a painting class in the faint hope I will learn something that will change me from a mediocre painter into a master painter (it has not yet happened). I also use it when I am taking drawing classes to hold all my junk. It has fold out shelves and little compartments and is small and portable and I can find stuff fast without digging.

      4+

      1. My tackle ‘box’ is actually a soft sided bag that holds 4 plastic trays. I use 2 of the trays for fishing tackle; which leaves me with space for a book. It’s also got an adjustable strap as well as a handle.

        0

    3. I am a huge fan of tackle and tool boxes. I got one for a sewing kit for a dear friend aeons ago, and she still uses it, and still gleefully points out the importance of worm-proof compartments. I have a giant tool kit for stage work – mostly the hot glue gun and zip ties of various sizes, but also screw drivers, wrenches and three kinds of knives. We have various tool boxes with useful things for different issues in the house. I have another full of things I needed to carry out of the garage every day when I was building a boat.

      Graph and grid paper is the finest. It makes lining things up easy, and it makes the doodling so much neater and more balanced. I have stacks of gridded index cards, which is pretty much the perfect object for me!

      3+

    4. I was taught to use a tackle box (fishing box) for my art supplies when I took a community class in high school, and they still live there (and it’s still covered in stickers from punk shows, because I aspired to be a punk in high school). Makes me smile AND it’s useful!

      2+

      1. As soon as I get the wall unit, which will be awhile, I’ll post a picture. It’s not supposed to get here until the 23rd.

        3+

  4. I did a Kon Mari in July when I had Winter vacation but I missed the last part because of going back to work. This Christmas holiday got messed up by sinus infection and so no cleaning out at all.

    Having tried Peter Walsh method for years and watched Clean Sweep and Consumed and Hoarders for methods, so far Kon Mari is the only one that put a dent in it for me.

    I managed to do some over a week at work when the children weren’t there. Again, first time it was reduced by myself without roping in someone to help.

    And yes, I was wondering where the pics are. I want before and after, in both spaces, please.

    4+

  5. My office: lap desk with laptop. In an overhead bin (airplane style but much smaller), a plastic box with stationery, pens, stamps, scissors, tape, binder clips, usb drives, colored pencils, a glue stick, an iPad and an iPad keyboard. Under the bed, an expanding file folder with the absolute minimum mandatory paperwork.

    Living in a van makes one good at minimalism. But I’m surprised by how seldom I open that plastic box.

    5+

    1. #goalz (re: Sarah’s tiny house living minimal office. Am I the only one fascinated with tiny houses? I’m seeing so many gorgeous school bus renovations, and while I don’t think I would like to live in one, it’d be awfully nice to have one on the property to retreat to.)

      2+

      1. I was quite taken with them. Then Dec 2017 was our vacation to India and we selected a camper bed option in my folks hotel room for me. I can’t imagine tiny housing it as a family unless we are all truly minimalist and the weather was always conducive to sitting outdoors to eat, study, grade papers or read for leisure.

        I can imagine converting a bus into a home like some have on George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces as a single person. It’s bigger than a camper van, smaller than most RVs (I think) and it is not a caravan.

        3+

      2. I grew up in a really small house (family of 4 humans, multiple dogs, and the occasional random farm animal that needed assistance) and the thought of living in another one gives me the heebie-jeebies. Even if I was single and animal-less, I don’t think I could do it again.

        4+

        1. Yeah, I don’t think I want to live in a tiny house. But my fond fantasy is that I could have one in the yard, and being small, I could keep it clean and tidy with 15 minutes a day, and it’d be a room of my own with a napping bed, snack fridge and library. Ah well. If I had a million dollars (if I had a million dollars) . . . as the song goes.

          4+

  6. I’m probably the only one whose office also has several cases of shotgun shells, gun cleaning equipment, fishing supplies, camping gear and three giant dog beds.

    I just bought a diaper bag to take on our trip to Ireland. It’s alllllll about the compartments. It looks like a much nicer purse than any purse I already have and the inside is wipe clean.

    7+

      1. I love my Skip Hop Diaper bag! Unfortunately mine is filled with diapers since my kids are 22 months and 4 months. So many diapers 😳

        1+

  7. Flat desk or table space. That’s the one thing I never have enough of. Space for laying out research materials while I’m working on a project, for sorting invoices for filing, for paying bills without moving my computer. My space is small but far from minimalist – I need it for writing, personal paperwork, and all the record-keeping and paperwork for running a small business.

    The most important thing I’ve found I need for working efficiently is to have everything I need within arm’s reach. For instance, if I have to get up to file papers away in another room, I end up stacking them somewhere to file later while I keep working and end up with mountains that have to be sorted all over again.

    6+

  8. This has been remarkably useful for me: an old-fashioned (well maybe just old) 9×12.5 wood-grained-look pressed cardboard clipboard with a sturdy metal clip (Service in scroll-y letters). It is great for writing in bed (I should clarify: “writing” for me means filling out sudoku puzzles) and a self-stacking archeology of notes-to-self (scribbled in margins of aforementioned sudokus).

    2+

  9. Since I threw in the towel time ago, I can’t really offer any good advice, just good wishes to you all on your minimizing efforts. But, one comment that gave me pause was that line about covering your printer and scanner with contact paper. Maybe I’m worrying too much, but I would be concerned about an additional layer of plastic causing the machines to overheat. Just a thought.

    5+

    1. Yes: what I used to do was use a piece of material – a rayon shawl or similar – as a dust cover; which also worked as a disguise.

      1+

    2. Contact paper is really thin, and the printer has a lot of openings I won’t cover. I don’t think it’s a problem, the way it would be if I put it in a box or enclosed. The scanner takes about two seconds, so I don’t think there’s time for that to overheat.

      1+

  10. Pictures or it didn’t happen!

    As to what’s required for a minimalist office? No frickin’ idea, even though mine is hugely pared down from a decade ago. I’d say the first priority for me is lots of open flat surfaces that can stay open because other stuff is stashed neatly and near-to-hand.

    3+

  11. My post it’s include lined pad post it’s about 3x 5 so I can write relatively lengthy notes and then stick them places. Also erasable pens, paper clips, and a stack of not yet used file folders. That makes it much easier to file things promptly.
    Since I run an organization I also have a couple file folders for things to go to the bookkeeper so they don’t get lost. And a folder of agendas and plane reservations and so forth for upcoming meetings. I’m guessing you don’t need those.

    1+

  12. Things I need besides the laptop, printer and phone:
    Adjustable aluminum laptop desk for working from bed.
    Paper day planner/calendar – I like the myAgenda for tracking hours.
    Folders, because I work on multiple projects every day.
    Mesh desktop hanging file folder thingy. I like it better than the tiered one I used to have.
    Pens. No pencils.
    Scrap paper.

    Oddly, my office has a lot more stuff than this.

    4+

    1. *snort of agreement* I only need desk, laptop, iMac, scanner/printer, the odd pen, the odd piece of paper, assorted cables & computer accessories, sorted and filed paperwork, and that’s about it.

      But my office has more stuff than that too. 🙂

      I’m feeling like I’m going to just throw, rather than sort and throw. Sort implies a decision about keep/throw, and really it should be just throw.

      The only problem is I keep getting reminded of the saying “Junk is the stuff that you keep for 20 years and then throw it out three days before you need it”.

      4+

      1. LOL, all my life I lived with that attitude — it’s a family tradition to say that as soon as you throw it out, you’ll find a need for it. I think it’s a function of the decluttering process. Buried under a stack of stuff for 20 years, it’s forgotten. Even if you need it, you probably won’t remember it, and buy a new one.

        But if it’s been in your hands in the past week? Suddenly your brain is clicking, and putting two and two together. Never mind that the other three and a half garbage bags of things never get connected to a real project. Suddenly, you realize that that doohickey was just the thing to fix the widget-wiper, and you curse the trashman and the trip into town that you have to make to get a new doohickey (or widget-wiper, as the case may be).

        At least, that’s what I try to tell myself when I’m decluttering. If I can’t name a specific use for the item NOW (and it’s been in the house for over a year being useless), I should toss it. I wouldn’t have used it anyway.

        And I don’t really need that widget-wiper, anyway. Any soft cloth does the job just as well.

        6+

  13. My work is unique now in that everything is digital and done on the computer. It wasn’t always this way, but now I just need a desk, good chair, and a good standing alternative area to work, these days I use my kitchen counter when I’m standing and on the laptop.

    4+

  14. When I downsized to an apartment, I got a two bed two bath. My son was living in Las Vegas then so I made the 2nd bedroom into an office and put in a daybed. Now he lives in L.A. and that bed has been slept in twice. So, seriously, I could save a ton of money if I moved to a one bedroom place. I’ve never liked writing on a laptop, always like a big office chair and desktop. I’ve been practicing though.

    4+

  15. This post has reinforced my current thinking. I look around, and judgment is I need solely laptop, pen, pile of small note cards, scissors, tape and the shelf of reference books behind me. Hmm.
    Printer’s behind shelf doors in another room. Don’t use it often, but when I do it’s essential.

    3+

  16. Have you considered making a skirt for the bottom of the table, or would that not look good? Just seems like it might be easier than contact paper for the printer/scanner.

    Also, I’d like to join the chorus of people who’d love both before and after photos.

    2+

    1. It’s a mission table. Putting a skirt on that would be a real violation of design.
      If it helps, my sinks have skirts. I’m not anti-skirt.

      3+

  17. Definitely want before and after photos, please. Your office makes me feel a lot better about mine, so I’m hoping your after photos will inspire me.

    4+

  18. I don’t have an office. And my printer resides in another room. It allows me to:
    1) get up from my laptop every once in a while and move.
    2) use more thought before I blindly print off every word I write, because I make sure I want to take the laptop and plug in the cord to print.

    3+

  19. You could get a printer holder that could go under the table, if there is an under.

    My office also has to have white board and cork boards (although I want to get rid of a couple). A large file cabinet for business and personal filing (I have a low horizontal one that doubles as a table to put file holders and organizers, including one small 4-drawer organizer that holds all the electronic bits and pieces like phone/Kindle chargers, extra thumb drives, etc.). Hanging files on the wall for folders of the currently in process work. (Although I have to clean through those.)

    I also have framed book flats from my books to remind me that I’m really an author, but that isn’t strictly necessary.

    PICTURES!!!

    2+

  20. When we bought our house in 2014, I had to give up my office, as this house only has 3 bedrooms – no den, loft, or extra room. My solution was moving the dining table to what would be used as a family room. For us it wouldn’t have worked as a family room anyway, it’s too small, but it works great as the dining room. It’s attached to the kitchen, so it’s a great dine-in kitchen area. My “office” is now in what would be the formal dining room. I have a desk against a wall. All that sits on my desk is my iMac. My scanner/printer unit is stashed in the compartment in my desk that would be for a computer tower. I also keep my print paper in there. My stationary stuff is all in my drawers (clips, staples, stapler, scissors, etc.). This works for me. Our home is small, so every room has to function. I’m okay with my desk being in my living/dining room area. It’s against a far corner, so when I’m watching TV on the sofa in the evenings I don’t even notice it.

    One thing I would HIGHLY recommend is a wireless printer/scanner unit. Mine is a very light portable unit, so I keep it stashed away. When not in use, it’s in a drawer, and when I need it, I just pull it out and plug it in.

    3+

    1. Our wireless printer scanner is in a closet along with the paper and a lot of supplies and two wall hanging holders for files. Anyone can print from anywhere in the house. Second the recommendation.
      An extra plus is many fewer wires.

      4+

  21. We have an office which is basically just a storage room although the printer lives there. I really work at the dining room table where I can spread out and there is lots of lovely natural light.

    2+

  22. As someone who has temporarily given up her dedicated office space, I thought I could work anywhere and not miss having a real office. In a lot of ways, I can- between lap top, smart phone and (on a good day) my brain, I have 90% of what I need and can theoretically do my job anywhere.

    But man, do I sometimes really miss an office door I can close. For me the “in the living room” thing has been super hard that way – especially since with my open floor plan “in the living room” also means “in the kitchen”.

    When you’re working anywhere, all of the sudden everywhere you look is work. I’m much more likely to get off task and feel stressed out – everywhere I look is another project I should be working on. It’s like a constant brain clutter that makes it harder for me to prioritize.

    Plus then all the work “stuff I didn’t need” starts to migrate around in my life space, spreading clutter and discontent,

    So I really miss having a dedicated place to go where I could focus and be productive on just my work but then also close the door and leave it there when it was time for a break or to focus on something else.

    It was one thing to do it on a temporary weekend here, week there basis when I had a guest in the office/guest room…but it became a whole different thing for me now that it’s been going on months.

    ymmv, of course – and I hope it does!

    4+

    1. I’ve found myself working in bed almost constantly for months now, so my office migrated with me. I didn’t have the printer and scanner, which was a problem, but I ended up with everything else in a box or on the nightstand. So making myself an office wall in the living room next to the LaZBoy will, I’m hoping, get me out of bed and organize stuff. The office concept just does not work for me. It becomes the place I dump my stuff.

      3+

      1. “It becomes the place I dump my stuff.”

        SAME.

        I use a formal dining room. Every few months, I get up the energy to clean off that table and haul the collected jetsam to the garage. I sit down at that table for a few minutes before one of my teens needs me NOW. A week later the piles have started to grow again. Vicious cycle.

        Oldest is in the college app stage now. I’ll look back on this moment someday and wish she were home, bugging me to DO IT NOW, MOM.

        1+

        1. I got my desk cleaned off for a New Year’s Party. My 2018 resolution (after all the exercise and work out stuff) is to clean it every Sunday. That way also urgent things won’t get buried. This may require regular Sunday dinner guests, but anything for the cause.

          I don’t actually write anything at my home desk. I take my laptop and work else where. But the desk is where I do all the family-related stuff like pay bills and fill out forms, and file.

          It actually helps to have two spaces one at the office for the job and one at home for the bills/etc. If I work at home again (which could be) I need to replicate that in some way–even if its only two sets of inboxes etc. Its like having all the little boxes on my desk for paperclips and so forth. I ‘m not a naturally organized person, so if I don’t make myself a rigid structure and time plan I end up with piles of stuff everywhere. Funnily, my computer files are well organized.

          3+

          1. I hear you. When I complain about being a lousy housekeeper, friends act like I am fishing for compliments. I am a lousy housekeeper but I adhere to a few rigid rules (put the clean dishes away first thing in the morning, make the bed as soon as I get up before I even leave the bedroom, put dirty clothes down the clothes return, etc). And if I do those things no one seems to notice the dust on everything or the stack of books on the bookcase or that I spend an inordinate amount of time on cruising on my laptop.

            2+

  23. I’ve been training myself not to print very much since, for a long time, our printer has been in my husband’s home office. Which used to be a separate room but now is in a separate building! So my office space is:

    laptop desk from The Container Store
    laptop computer + wireless mouse
    chair
    flatbed scanner stored in a drawer nearby
    notepads (graph paper!) and pens stored in desk drawer
    … all in a corner of a small living room with windows on two sides.

    General office supplies (tape, binder clips, paper clips, mini stapler & staples) are a few steps away in an antique Chinese box that looks like art rather than office storage.

    Very soon I will be adding to the room a storage ottoman to hide active files. Other than that, since my home-office time is not income-producing, I don’t really need much.

    If/when I get a new job closer to home, I will be able to take hour lunches again, and then I will very likely acquire a tablet to do some writing away from home. Right now, with a 10.5 hour workday encompassing a half-hour lunch break and 2.5 hours (on average) in the car, I don’t have enough time. 🙁

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  24. I’m considering turning my dining room into a sort of office. Only sort of because I’m really more of a kitchen table person, but I’m tired of my kitchen table needing to be cleared off if I want to cook or bake. I have a dining room table that never, ever gets used, and if I get rid of it the room will also look bigger. I recently replaced the “feed a family of 5” kitchen table with a small antique gatelegged table, and it is amazing how much bigger my kitchen looks. And by “office” all I really need is someplace which is not the kitchen table where the laptop and mail can live.

    I dragged a big bag of stuff out to the curb with the trash and intend to keep filling and dragging trash bags. My motto for this year is not necessarily less stuff, but more functional space. So I want to purge what doesn’t get used even if it means I end up getting something else, provided the something else is truly suited to my need. I have some really nice pieces, but I also have a lot of crap that I’ve been making do with. The antique table was inspired by the realization that in ye olden days they did a better job of pairing form and function, not to mention quality, and furniture was generally made for smaller spaces. I looked at new kitchen tables and they were not anywhere near what I wanted, not even real wood, and frankly more expensive than the table I ended up with.

    1+

    1. I love gate-legged tables, although I’ve never lived with one. My grandmother had one that usually functioned as a sideboard, but sometimes turned into the kids’ table at big gatherings.

      What I’ve lived with is card tables. Kind of rickety ones, but I’ve seen some online that look much sturdier. I just love the idea of a square that’s tucked behind the sofa or something, and then you can pull it out and have an instant work or play space.

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      1. That’s much like my new kitchen table. I have it unfolded currently, so it’s about 3 foot square. It’s still way smaller than the old table, and the coffee pot is on one corner. I need to find maybe two small chairs, about 16-16 1/2″ high. Or maybe just one plus a step stool. Oooh, yeah. I can totally see a library style step stool.

        I have many plans for shelving on currently unused kitchen walls, and once I have those in place, I’m planning to keep the table folded over and use it like a low counter. If you are looking for smaller tables, I highly recommend haunting antique stores. Antique just means old, not necessarily expensive!

        1+

  25. Ha! Glad I found this. I will soon (within the next couple of weeks) be gaining an empty bedroom so an office will be an actuality and I like seeing what everyone else has done or plans to do. Then, six months later another bedroom comes free.

    And I actually think the boys have probably stopped coming home for the summers now, so I may rent out their rooms. Or have a separate sewing room…

    The possibilities are endless!

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