The un-Office

Warning: the following photos are not pretty.

I saw this post today, about creating an office space when you have no office, and I wanted to share what works for me!

I have a computer desk in our basement with a small filing drawer where we keep all of our important papers. We also have a filing crate with less important files tucked away in a basement closet (things like laundry machine manuals are in there). This works in general, but I often found myself needing things like tape or stamps while I was in the kitchen, and paper piles would quickly accumulate until I had the chance to file them.

I came up with the following system which has been working for me for awhile.

It takes up one shelf in my pantry and consists of some stacking trays, a paper recycling box, a box of greeting cards, and three re-purposed baby wipes containers.

The stacking trays contain:
  • office tools - scissors, packing tape, ruler, pencil sharpener, stapler, tape
  • mailers
  • my laptop and notebook - the cord is plugged in behind the couch so I can use then when I need to
  • paper for lists, notes, and emergency coloring pages
  • the to-be-filed pile
To the right, I have a box of greeting cards as well as baby wipes containers that keep the following at hand:
  • mailing supplies (stamps, address labels, envelopes)
  • paper clips, pushpins, and rubber bands
  • child-proofing supplies
  • sewing essentials
Any papers that I need to reference, need at hand, or have to act upon live on my super-elaborate wall board.

(Pardon me, I obviously need to bring the paper recycling in! Our church has one of those paper recycling fundraiser dumpsters.)

Yup. Those are just papers taped to the door. I know it's ugly, but this actually works for me. I don't like the clutter, so it encourages me to act on the items I need to. I have to see every single paper every time I open this door (which is often) so it is harder to forget about things. I have a couple of envelopes there for smaller things.

Oh yes, I also have a cup of pens.

This system really only works because we have eliminated as much paper as possible. We do not receive paper bills or statements. We do not get the newspaper and junk mail gets put in the recycling bin right away. If I find a piece of paper that I'd like to be able to reference later on but don't want it hanging around, I will sometimes snap a photo with my smartphone and store it in an online album or in Google docs.

The majority of papers that land in the to-be-filed box are photos, tax documents and receipts (for home based business expenses), and to-sweet-to-throw-away craft projects. I have a photo box at my desk in the basement to collect the overflow of photos. I'll go through those someday, but for the time being the box is small and pretty so it works. Tax documents, medical records, etc get filed in the little filing drawer at my desk. Craft projects get photographed and thrown away or photographed and put away into Cecelia's treasure box.

Another system in the house that helps with small-item/paper build-up is the large outbox in our mudroom closet. I'm able to drop a lot of things in there (store returns, borrowed books, gifts) and then grab them when we head out!

Since everything is on display, and it's a very tight space, things in here are pared down by necessity. I have everything I need, and nothing I don't!