If you are working with limited space, you can still enjoy a full featured office. Home office technology and the ability to “go paperless” dramatically reduces the physical space needed to do your work. The first rule in working and living in small spaces is to eliminate everything that isn’t essential and organize everything that is. Aside from that, I’ve assembled the following list of essentials for a well-appointed tiny office.
I, of course, love my iMac. But, there are many little computers that don’t sacrifice features or function to enjoy a substantial amount of screen real estate while maintaining a dainty footprint. If you prefer a laptop, your tiny office will love you for it!
The fewer wires you have to string about, the happier you will be. The new bluetooth keyboards and mice won’t even require a dongle if your computer is bluetooth equipped. Printers now come wireless and network ready — without a huge pricetag. Using one printer for all computers in the house simplifies life.
All-in-one data scanner/printer solution
Once a week (if you aren’t a “daily” type) you should empty your inbox, scanning in anything that you need to keep and filing it in a software filing program (or in your own system of nested files). Keep only those items you are legal bound to retain. Scan and file those and discard the rest.
Go for quality
Don’t skimp on the quality of your keyboard, don’t accept a less than perfect height desk, and buy the best, most ergonomically sound desk chair you can afford. Buy a good headset for your computer. In addition to making it easier to utilize the cost-effective VOIP options, it will also keep your conversations a bit more private if you are sharing close-quarters with others.
Save your eyes
Make sure you have excellent general lighting as well as task lighting in your office. Squinting at the screen isn’t a good way to spend your day. If you can manage to position your desk so that you can gaze out a window, you will allow your eyes a much needed “mini-vacation” during the course of each day. A few minutes gazing outside and focusing on items in the distance will prevent eyestrain and headaches.
Desk Accessories – A listing of my personal essentials
- Stapler (and refills)
- Weighted tape dispenser
- Three hole punch
- Mechanical pencil (with extra lead)
- Ink pen (a good quality roller ball or a fountain pen)
- Bar-style or other eraser (Papermate “black pearl” oval erasers are nice)
- Paper clips
- Ruler or a small tape measure
- Sharpies (Black in medium and fine tips)
- Garbage can
- An inbox and an out box
- Stack of index cards (or a note pad if you prefer)
- Microfiber monitor/screen cleaning cloth
- Notecards (preferably customized with your business name or monogram)
- Business cards
- Stamps (save yourself the hassle and buy the “forever” variety)
- Printer Paper
- Standard Envelopes
- Return address labels
- Small notepad or stack of index cards
Two thumbdrives (one for work stuff, one for personal items) This eliminates the need for most CDs and DVDs and is a much more earth-friendly way to handle your data. It also conserves your office space.
Two external hard drives (one for onsite backups, one for offsite backup storage)
How to handle sticky and space-hogging items
Software disks and manuals can become cumbersome. First, sort through all the ones you currently have and discard/donate any that are outdated or that you no longer use. For those still in use, store a copy of the disk on your computer and back it up to your external hard drives and store the original copies in a less convenient location.
This will keep your office clear, without risking a loss due to a hard drive crash. It will also make it easier to get a new computer up and running by keeping all your software install info in one central location.
- Have one folder for each type of software disk copy (Utilities, Games, Productivity, Graphic Arts, Music, Video, etc.)
- Use a password program (like KeePassX) to store your software activation numbers, purchase information, etc.
- Keep a folder of ebooks on your computer and label one “Users Manuals” – most disks now come with a PDF version of the manual (and those that don’t usually have a version available online.)
NOTE: Be sure, if you go paperless, that you backup your hard drive no less than once a week and keep that copy offsite (safety rule-of-thumb is 50 miles from your home office). Another option is to use one of the smaller hard drives and place it in your safety deposit box. If you use two drives and rotate them, it will be easy to drop one off and pick up the other any time you are out anyway.