Working successfully from home doesn’t necessarily mean carving out an entirely separate office space in which to tackle your 9-to-5 hustle. “Even if you do not have a whole room to dedicate to a home office, you can still carve out a workspace that supports you to be productive and creative during your billable hours—and that lets you seamlessly tidy up to enjoy your home during your free time,” says Jenny Albertini, a master-level certified KonMari consultant and founder of Declutter DC. If you’re wondering how to achieve such a setup, look no further than the eight tips below.
1. Evaluate Your Space
Before determining where to set up your makeshift home workspace, you’ll want to evaluate your home with regard to two criteria, notes designer Ashley Danielle Hunte of Style Meets Strategy. Hunte says that for one, it’s important to understand where in your home you feel most productive. Second, it’s also key to consider how you can maximize the function of existing spaces in your home, such as a kitchen nook or guest bedroom.
2. Consider How You Work
An at-home setup that pleases your boss or roommate may not be the perfect match for your own work preferences. Take your specific needs and habits into account when deciding how to arrange your space. Asks Albertini, “Have you stopped to consider what your vision of joyful work includes? Think through whether you see yourself as a solitary writer on the couch or a host of virtual meetings using a standing desk with a camera.” Only then can you move forward with layout decisions. “Once you understand the role you see yourself in for your workday, you can craft a space around how to support that,” Albertini notes.
3. Start Small
On a related note, Hunte advises individuals to weigh even the smallest spots within the house as potential work areas. “Sometimes a good corner can be the perfect area to create a designated work from home area,” she states. Take on the challenge to transform a small space and push your level of creativity.”
4. Stay Organized
When you’re setting up shop in a room that is used for multiple purposes, don’t let your work station overpower the space, Hunte advises. For example, if choosing to work from the dining room, “staying organized and keeping to one area will allow you to associate that specific area with work and productivity while the other area is for dining,” she notes.
5. Make It Special
Additionally, when working in a spot that does serve multiple purposes, try to separate work and life using this trick from Albertini. “If you are using a shared space like the kitchen table to work at, create a ritual everyday where you clear off the table from breakfast and bring in your ‘work supplies,'” she suggests. Of course, this doesn’t need to be too extensive of a process—it’s simple rituals that will make all the difference. “This can be moving over your favorite plant from the window sill to sit beside you, grabbing a framed photo from the TV stand, and setting it next to your laptop, or making the cup of tea that you only save for work hours,” Albertini says.
6. Get Mobile
If you’re wondering how exactly to keep track of all of your work essentials in a way that also makes for easy cleanup come 5 p.m., Albertini offers a solution. “Make your storage easily contained and moveable,” she says. A small, portable file box makes for a wonderful home for papers. “I like ones with lids and handles,” Albertini notes. “They’re easy to move around and tuck into a closet when you are done with work for the day, and having the lid means you will see less of the visual clutter of clusters of paper.” It’s a win-win!
7. Think Vertically
Albertini has another type for those whose work station is more permanent—albeit small. Even if you’re working from a small nook that doesn’t fit much furniture, you can still work to maximize your storage and organizational capabilities. “Use your vertical space wisely,” Albertini says. “A wall-mounted file organizer is a great way to organize papers by project or category, especially for items that are actively being used. Choose a color that blends into your wall color to minimize the visual noise.”
8. Choose the Right Side Table
Those who prefer to work from the sofa may be happy simply purchasing a C-table, which can serve double duty when relaxing or entertaining, Hunte says. “C- Tables are great if you’re working on a laptop,” she comments. “They neatly tuck under the sofa and sometimes over the arm, and can act as a ‘desk’. When not using the C-Table as a desk, one can use it as a drink table or purely for decor.”