We've all seen the glorious art studios and creative spaces on Pinterest and Instagram and drooled at the thought of all the sunlight and room to move around and make a big, creative mess, right? I love those pictures so, so much. For a lot of us though, we might live in smaller spaces or share space with several other people, including kids maybe, and keeping a small space organized for creating and working can be a challenge.
Here are a few ways I've kept my sanity over the years living in small places with my big ideas, projects and supplies:
First, pull out everything from drawers, shelves, boxes and tabletops that relate to your working space. Paperclips, hot glue guns, craft books and client files - get it all out where you can see it.
Next, you're going to sort everything into three piles or boxes or rooms of the house - just depends on how much stuff you have. You're going to have a "Keep" group of things, a "Give Away / Sell" group and a "Trash" group.
The Keep group gets all the things you want to keep. It seems simple enough, but trying to decide if you really need 18 lined (and very pretty) notebooks can be harder than you'd think. Don't ask me how I know. I don't know anything about that at all. Nope.
Do you need 3 boxes of paper clips (maybe you do!), or 10 boxes of jewelry beads for a hobby you've pretty much abandoned? There are a lot of reasons deciding to keep or get rid of something weighs on some of us. Sentimental attachment or money already spent can make us think something has more value than it actually does. It's time to get honest about what we have in our home office space and why we have it. If it no longer serves the purpose it might have once done, it's time to let it go.
The Give Away / Sell group gets all the things you've decided you don't need any more but is in great shape still so someone else could use it. I usually sort this group even further by the things I want to sell on a site like Craigslist or a yard sale, books I can donate to the library and what I'll donate to our local Goodwill.
The Trash group is for broken pencils, dried up paintbrushes, pens and markers, crumpled paper, etc. Depending on what you're sorting through, you might also have a Shred group here for papers you no longer need but should be shredded due to the information on them instead of just throwing them away. A lot of cities have semi-regular shred days where you can bring papers that need shredding for a small fee so look and see if that's an option for you!
Ok. So now you have all your supplies, tools and materials sorted into groups and it's time to clean up. Box up the Give Aways, bag up the Trash and the Shred groups and set aside anything you plan to sell for listing online or a yard sale later.
Next, (and this might seem silly, but these bags and boxes should not sit around your house a minute longer) take out the trash. Put the give away boxes or bags in your car and make a note on your to do list to drive them to your local charity collecting items like these. Put the shred box somewhere out of the way if you don't have a shredder and want to wait for a bigger stack to take to a local city shred day.
Hooray! You did it! Now all you should have left in front of you is your Keep group and it's time to make some plans for your space! This is where it starts to get really fun!
2. Make a Plan
Now that you have everything sorted through and all you need to focus on is what you want to keep, it's time to make a plan for how to store it all in a way that will be useful for you on a regular basis.
First, think about what you want to do in your small (and totally cute and adorable!) space. What do you have in front of you that needs to be organized and put away? Sewing supplies? Paint? Client and personal files? Baking tools and supplies?
Next, do you have what you need to put things away so you can access them easily? Here are some of my favorite things to use to keep everything organized:
Now that you have everything you need to easily store and access the supplies you need to work and be creative, it's time to put it all away! Get all your Keeps into piles by type (paper with paper, paints with paints, etc.
Consider what supplies you reach for regularly and make sure however you decide to store these things makes it easy and quick for you to get to and put back away without much effort. Working in a small space means our work and creativity can be interrupted or just easily procrastinated if our supplies are hard to get to, are a pain to get it all out or are really difficult to put away. Having the things we use most often close at hand makes staying motivated so much easier!
As you put things away, first put away the supplies you don't use very often so they go at the back or the bottom of a drawer or shelf, then put away the things you use regularly. Make sure to keep things together in categories (for example: keep your stash of post-its together except for the few you're using right now, put your big pile of pens and pencils away and only keep out a few you're using right now.) When our things are stored haphazardly, especially in small spaces, it can make it difficult to feel and think creatively. Having just what we need at our fingertips and not having to go track it all down in different boxes or parts of the house makes creating so much more fun!
If organizing all the Keep piles wasn't your idea of fun, here's where it gets fun! It's time to pretty up this sweet little working space! Here are some of my favorite ways to add some color and personality to my small, creative "workshop:"
Working and creating in a small space definitely poses a number of functional challenges, but with a little planning and organization, you can make your workspace a place you love to be! Do you have a specific space challenge that we didn't talk about here? Let's talk about it in the comments or send me an email and we'll brainstorm how we can make your challenge work for you!