Is your office spilling out of the bedroom into the hall? Whether or not you're lucky enough to have an entire room in your home dedicated to your business, be sure you're making efficient use of the space you have.

Susan Sherman, an interior design professional in Clayton, North Carolina, suggests:

  • Design your workspace with you in the center. You should be able to perform multiple tasks within reasonable reach.
  • If you purchase furniture, be sure it offers flexible spaces and cubbyholes for various items and equipment.
  • Keep a small amount of supplies close at hand. Store the rest out of the way.
  • Force yourself to stay organized. Whether you use cardboard boxes or file cabinets, take the time at least once a week to put everything in its place.
  • To cut down on excess paper, scan and file documents on your computer. Be sure to make a backup copy on disk, then get rid of the original paper version.
  • Look up. Shelves that reach the ceiling can help compensate for lack of floor space.
  • If you need bookshelves, make them only as deep as necessary. Unless you store a lot of three-ring binders or other large books, a depth of eight inches should work. This will leave more floor space.
  • Use the tops of filing cabinets to hold peripherals such as printers and scanners. Don't allow piles of papers to collect on these otherwise useful surfaces.
  • If you're buying a new computer and are really squeezed for space, consider a laptop. They take up far less desk or table space than a full-size PC and have the obvious advantage of being portable. Downside: Typing on a laptop keyboard can be tiring; make sure you choose one that's big enough for you.
  • How can you use wall space? Shelves, hanging files, pencil sharpeners, telephones, fans and lights can all be affixed to the wall instead of taking up precious floor or desk space.

Lynn Colwell is a life coach and writer in the Seattle area.