Home Office Organization Tips

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Home Office Organization Tips

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Looking for home office organization tips?

More and more stay at home moms (and people in general) are opting to launch home-based businesses to generate or supplement their income.

When one chooses to do this, the best way to ensure an effectively run business is to have a home office.

This week we will focus on how you can save cash on your home office by showing you some great home office organization tips for the everyday cheapskate and let you know how you can get your hands on some cheap office supplies.

After all, who said that being a successful business owner and living frugal don't mix?

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Home Office Organization Tips - Location, Location, Location

Ok, so let’s talk about the most obvious thing – where will you set up your home office? To be a successful business owner, you have to have an entire room dedicated to your business. Better yet, you should go ahead and make plans to add on an entire wing to your house. Because that, my friends, is the only way to do it. Right?

WRONG!

There's no need to do either of these things. As long as you have a few feet of spare space, you can set up a functional home office. Think about it. That empty corner in your bedroom. That little area in the living room . The walk-in closet in the living room. That small Harry Potter-esque room underneath the staircase.

If you don't have any space available, consider if there is any way to rearrange things to make some space. Perhaps a closet filled with things you have not used in years. Have a yard sale or donate the contents (hey, you can even make some money to fund your home office project). Get creative and use what you have! Remember, our goal is living frugal.



Home Office Organization Tips - Buying Used

Now that you know where you will set up your home office, let's talk about the actual setup. In your mind you may be imagining a huge desk, an expensive computer, a leather chair, tons of filing cabinets, top of the line office supplies and who know what else. When designing a dream home office one can easily run into the thousands when it comes to the cost. However, you can have an efficient home office for a fraction of the cost.

In fact, it is possible to get a lot of office furniture and supplies for cheap or for free by utilizing your local Craigslist or Freecycle. And don’t forget about those places frequented by frugal living experts - yard/garage sales, flea markets, Goodwill, and The Salvation Army.

So what do you need to look for? When putting together your home office, there are three things you need to consider: your furnishings, your supplies, and your organizational system.

Furnishings

Office Desk - The most obvious thing you will need is a work surface - a desk or table. For some of us, this may be a section of your dining room table. For others it may be a small computer desk. Some may opt for a larger desk, complete with drawers. Whatever you choose, make sure that it meets your needs.

Consider whether you will have a lot of office supplies. If so, you may need a desk that has drawers or a hutch. Desks come in various shapes as well. I personally love the L-shaped desks because they provide you with more space to work on (sort of like having two desks for the price of one) and they can easily fit in a corner. There are also U-shaped desks, and mobile desks that can be pushed into a closet when not in use.

When it comes to finding the perfect desk, you have a couple of options:
  1. Make one yourself. If you have a couple of small bookshelves or filing cabinets and a sheet of word or glass, then building your desk is as simple as putting the two together, You can even use a cheap wooden door and milk crates to make a desk for a fraction of the cost. One great thing about this is that you can customize it to fit your needs.
  2. Repurpose an old/used on. If you already have a desk or found one at a yard sale, a container of paint can make it like new again. Again, doing this makes it easy to customize your desk to the way you want it to be.
  3. Buy a new one. Of course, you always have the option to buy a new desk. For the everyday cheapskate, you will want to opt for laminate desks as they are the cheapest option.
Seating - Now that the desk is all taken care of, you will need somewhere to sit. Whether you use one of your dining room chairs or a swiveling desk chair is up to you. You want to be sure that it is comfortable if you plan on spending a significant amount of time sitting in it. But, remember, functionality and comfort supersede looks for the everyday cheapskate. Once again, you can find used office furnishings through online resources, yard sales, or at places like Goodwill or The Salvation Army.

Organizational System

When it comes to the home office (and the home in general) it is critical that you have an effective storage system. Not only will it make things run more smoothly when you are able to easily locate things, but the lack of clutter will make your workspace more enjoyable for you to work in. I find that a cluttered home produces a cluttered mind. And a cluttered mind often leads to higher levels of stress.

Here are a few home organization tips that will help you to create an organized and clutter free workspace:
  1. Build your own shelves. With a few planks of wood, some brackets, and some screws, you can create a cheap, functional shelving system just about anywhere. If you have free space on the wall, you can build some shelves.
  2. If you're not good with tools, you can turn to the aforementioned resources (yard/garage sales, freecycle, Craigslist, etc.) to find cheap cabinets. You can also visit your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore to see if they have anything that you can use/repurpose.
  3. Use what you have. If your budget is super tight or you are prohibited from making changes to your house (e.g. people who rent their homes) another option would be to see what you have around the house that can be used in your office. You can use ice cube trays to store such things as paper clips and other small items. Old mugs or glass jars can be used to store pens, pencils, and scissors. The magazine rack in your bathroom can be given a new home in your office. Milk crates can be used as filing cabinets. You can even save old shoeboxes to store things in. The possibilities are endless!

Office Supplies

Now we get to the numerous things that will populate your home office: the supplies. Before you go crazy thinking about all of the one hundred and one cool things you should buy, take some time to consider the following question: What would you need every day and what would you need from time to time? The answer to this question will give you an idea of what is actually necessary for you to run your business effectively. No need for all the fluff – just the essentials.

Here is a list of some office supplies that you may need:

Printer/Copier/Scanner
Printer Ink
Printer Paper
Writing Paper
Calendar
Appointment Book
Pens and Pencils
Stapler
Staples
Corkboard
Push Pins
Tape
3 Hole Punch
File folder
Post-its

Home Office Organization Tips - Store Savings

Again, your first step should be to see if you can find any of these items for free or cheap. Once you have checked out local resources for used office supplies, you can head on over to your local office supply store. Some of them offer rewards programs, in-store rebates, and coupons that can help you to implement home organization tips without breaking the bank. Let’s look at three of the top office supplies stores and the programs they offer that enable you to purchase cheap office supplies: Staples, Office Max, and Office Depot.

Staples

Staples offers a rewards program designed to save small businesses big money. Whenever you purchase ink & toner, case & ream paper, or copy & print services, you receive 10% of your purchase back in Staples rewards. Once you have earned at least $10 in Staples rewards within a calendar year, you will receive an unlimited 10% back on all qualifying purchases. You receive your Staples rewards every month (minimum is $10. If the minimum has not been reached, it rolls over to the next month. If the minimum is not met by the end of the quarter, the balance expires).

Office Max

Office Max's MaxPerks Rewards program also offers you monetary rewards for your purchases. As a member, whenever you purchase a Bonus Rewards-qualified item, you receive the indicated rewards in your MaxPerks account.

Office Depot

Office Depot's WorkLife Rewards program gives you back 10% on ink, toner, paper, and print/copy services. You can also earn bonus rewards throughout the year on select items - even on your birthday.

These three companies also have mailing lists through which you can receive special offers to your email inbox. They also have cool ink cartridge buyback programs. You receive a certain amount of rewards points for each ink cartridge you return during a purchase. For each store, you get $2 for each empty ink cartridge (up to $10 will be given). You can recycle additional cartridges to receive their monthly recycling rewards.

Since we are on the topic of ink, let's talk about how you can save money on this expenditure. Let's face it, if you have a business that requires a great deal of printing, this will be the product that you have to buy continuously, and it can get pricey. So what can you do to cut down the costs?

First of all, you can become one of the benefactors of the aforementioned ink recycling programs. That's right - they aren't just buying back those cartridges for no reason. They actually reuse these cartridges, and you can get them for less than the original cartridges.

You can also use compatible ink cartridges. This is the equivalent of buying the off-brand. Just make sure that the seller is reputable and that the quality is comparable. Another option would be to purchase ink refill kits. Rather than buying a new cartridge each time, you can refill it yourself for a fraction of the cost. You can score great deals on ink refill kits online.

And consider the type of printer that you buy. Before you make a decision, check out the type of cartridge that it uses, the costs of those cartridges, as well as the page yield number. This will help you determine how much one sheet of paper costs you. If one sheet of paper will cost you 15 cents, you should probably find a different printer.

Home Office Organization Tips - Make It Your Own

Ok, so now that we have gotten through all of the functional parts of the home office, let's talk about the fun stuff - decorating it. First of all, if you are like me nothing is more annoying or potentially hazardous than a tangle of cords. If you have that problem, invest in some wire binders or rubber bands to tidy that mess up a bit.

Or you can get creative with tape and tape them to the floor or the wall to get them out of the way. Aside from that, you may want to add some touches to your home office to make it as comfortable as the rest of your house.

Some home office organization tips would be to buy a potted plant to place in your workspace, hang a few family pictures, put up your vision board, hang a picturesque wall calendar, or even paint the space. A lamp can also serve the dual purpose of decoration and lighting.

Home Office Organization Tips - Wrapping it Up

As you have seen from these home office organization tips, it is possible to have a great, functional, and even aesthetically pleasing home office without spending a ton of cash. With a little money and a lot of creativity, you can do amazing things! All you have to do is find(or make) some space in your house, figure out what your needs are, and get creative in meeting them. And the best part is that you may even be able to write your home office off as a tax deduction. Consult with a tax expert to learn the rules surrounding that.

Are you a mompreneur who has built a home office? What are some home office organization tips you have for creating a home office on a budget? Please share in the comments section.

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Sneak Peak at Next Week

Like this section on home office organization tips? Next week we'll be talking about how to save money on books and reading.

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