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Has your home office become a dumping ground for lots of random stuff? We’ve asked organization experts to help us solve your most common home office problems.
Problem: My office is a boring space.
If you expect to get work done in your home office, it should be a comfortable space that motivates you, says interior designer and HGTV host Taniya Nayak (www.taniyanayak.com). To create a room you can’t wait to be in, try using bold colors, fun accent chairs and throw pillows, she suggests. In her own office, Nayak likes to frame magazine articles she’s been in as motivation to work hard, but inspiring quotes work well, too. Professional organizer Bonnie Joy Dewkett suggests painting one wall a vibrant color or using wall decals or temporary wallpaper to create a stylish space.
Problem: My office has no natural light.
Accent lamps are an easy way to brighten a space that doesn’t get much natural light while adding a pop of color at the same time. If you have a big enough desk, brighten it up with a colorful lamp or two in a bold hue like turquoise or cobalt blue. “A great way to add extra lighting is to lean a mirror on the desk and add a table lamp in front of it,” says Nayak. “It will reflect light, add depth, and make the area feel larger.” If you don’t have space on your desk, go with a floor lamp. Lights under shelves are another great way to brighten your desk, says Dewkett. (Robert Abbey Delta Lamp, $166.91 at Lamps Plus)
Problem: I live in a small apartment and my office is becoming a storage closet.
When space is at a premium, it’s easy to start storing all your stuffin your office. Since vertical space is often under used in work spaces, Nayak recommends installing cabinets, wall shelves, tack boards and other items to keep your desk top clear and clutter free. A shelving unit such as Ikea’s Expedit is another great way to store lots stuff in an organized way. Add a stylish basket to each shelf and use them for miscellaneous items such as cameras, paper supplies, shopping bags, hats, gloves, shoes and party supplies. You can also assign each member of your family a shelf to help them keep track of their stuff. If you devote one basket to electronics or similar items, Dewkett recommends storing each device in a separate Ziploc bag for easy access. (Expedit shelving unit, $139 at Ikea; Rugby Bins, from $9.99 at The Container Store)
Problem: I can’t stay on top of paper clutter.
If you’re not diligent about dealing with paperwork, it’ll pile up fast. Dewkett suggests setting aside a time every day or every week to deal with paper. Plan to spend an hour or so reading, filing and scanning. “Make an appointment with yourself and keep it!”
Problem: How can I keep track of wills, birth certificates, passports and other important documents?
You don’t need to access your most important documents regularly, but you do need to keep them in a safe place. Dewkett recommends keeping all important documents in a fire-proof safe in your home or in a safety deposit box. And be sure to scan all important documents so you have an electronic back up.
Problem: The cords for my computer, printer and phone are a tangled mess and a major eyesore.
To keep your wires organized, bundle them according to purpose using cable ties. Dewkett recommends labeling each cord so you know what device it belongs to, a step that will come in handy when you need to identify a specific one.
Problem: My desk drawers are a cluttered mess.
“Only keep what you use and need within reach (in your drawers),” says Dewkett. Keep everything else, like extra supplies, in a nearby closet or shelving unit. Drawer organizers also work wonders for small objects such as thumbtacks, paper clips, staples, and tape.
Problem: Coupons, gift cards, business cards, stamps and other small items always get lost.
Bulletin boards or organizers that hang on the wall are a great way to keep track of small items that can get lost in drawers or wallets. Put one up and display coupons, gift cards, business cards and other items you might otherwise forget about.
Problem: I get so many catalogues and magazines and need to find a smart way to keep some for inspiration and future use.
If you have a hard time parting with precious magazines, set aside time to go through a bunch and tear out the pages that inspire you, says Dewkett. If you store those pages in a binder with page protectors, you’ll save a lot of space. Nayak makes notes with markers on each of the sheets before filing them.
Problem: You share an office and need to accommodate two computers and kids who use the computer after school.
When sharing a desk with a spouse, assign a drawer to each person and have a desktop filing system that can keep all of your documents separate, Dewkett suggests. Give your kids a small caddy for school supplies so they don’t take up precious desk space.
Problem: I can never find a bill or any piece of important paperwork when I need it.
Use online -- read paperless -- billing for starters. For other important documents that you need easy access to, Nayak relies on the app TurboScan.