Tips for Maximizing Your Workspace
I work in a shared closet (see above). No, not figuratively – my office space is a converted college chemistry department supply closet. Luckily, I have a fantastic office mate who is not only a close (literally and figuratively) coworker, but a great friend! That aside, space is definitely a challenge for both of us. We are both academic advisors with an open door policy…because we have no door (luckily we do have a nice big window)! Jokes aside, staying organized in a tiny space is no easy feat, especially because we meet with students frequently, so we need room for them too!
Here are a few tips I have for maximizing your space, no matter how big or small.
- Purge your paper. Paper is a huge waste of space. In some fields, you won’t be able to avoid it. I have one small file cabinet (two drawers) which I use to keep the most necessary paperwork and files. If I don’t need it at arms reach, I shred or scan. If it’s outdated and/or absolutely unnecessary, to the shredder it goes! If it’s something I want to keep, but don’t need at the moment, I’ll scan it into my computer and save to my Dropbox (Google Drive is another option). Keeping files and documents online reduces the desk clutter tremendously. This system also keeps me accountable because I know the only papers on my desk are open projects.
- Organize up. If you don’t have a lot of surface area to work on, using vertical space can help alleviate this problem and make some room. Having my phone on a stand made all the difference in the world! You can use the space under to tuck things away. Think wall shelves, hanging file folders, or anything that can give you levels to work with. I keep things I refer back to often on the wall in front of me, and a big dry erase calendar behind me.
- Add personal touches. This one might sound silly, but adding personal pictures or trinkets to your space will help boost your mood throughout the day! Favorite quotes, pictures, a plant, are all worthy of space. Don’t go crazy, but select a few favorite items to brighten up your area. My favorite animal is an otter, and I found an otter tape dispenser that is cute and functional! I also have fun note pads to spice things up.
I got lucky when it comes to sharing an office since I genuinely like my office mate! If you do share your space, make sure you’re respectful if you listen to music by keeping the volume low or using headphones. Just like you would with a roommate in college, you should have a conversation with your office mate about ground rules for your shared space. Unfortunately, my dreams of keeping all my books from grad school in my office, or hanging up my diplomas, are dashed for the time being (but it’s something to aspire to!). However, my tight quarters have definitely improved my organizational skills and my creativity! No matter what your situation, maximizing it and looking for the positive learning experiences guarantee that it will be worthwhile.