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An Office of One's Own

When space is at a minimum, turn your creativity to the maximum.

So you've started your business out of your home office--but you don't actually have an "office"? We went to Susan Silver, president of Positively Organized! in Los Angeles for advice on setting up a home office without the office:

  • Think location. Even if you don't have a separate room to call your office, choose an area of your home that has a door, like a bedroom or the corner of an enclosed den. Says Silver, "Choose a location that has privacy, has good lighting, is quiet and doesn't get a lot of foot traffic from other family members."
  • Look with new eyes. You might even look to a corner or wall of your bedroom. Silver suggests sketching possible space-saving ideas on paper first. "[Use] graph paper cutouts that are to scale," she says. "That way, you won't constantly move furniture around."
  • Go smaller. Check out space-saving designs for your office equipment. Have a laptop as your main computer. Use multifunction tools, too-machines that combine faxing, copying and printing. Also, says Silver, "Use voice mail from your telephone company, and say goodbye to your answering machine."
  • File right. Try to incorporate a two-drawer filing cabinet into your office. The top surface can be used for additional work space. "[Try] a file cabinet on casters, which can be wheeled under a work surface," says Silver.
  • Save space. To maximize your work space, Silver suggests using magazine file boxes to hold active project folders on your desktop. The upright style will free up some space.
  • Pick smart storage. As you begin to accumulate records, put them in fiberboard "banker's boxes" and store them in a garage or closet to save more room for your actively used files and projects.
  • Don't mix business and pleasure. "Keep your business reading and paperwork in your main work area, away from the kitchen, dining or coffee table," says Silver. "Become a good boundary-setter. Otherwise, you'll have a case of creeping clutter that spreads from table to table and room to room." Wherever you create your office, don't let your work papers sneak into the other areas of your home. Silver's book, Organized to Be Your Best! (Adams-Hall), offers more advice on getting organized.

Like this article? Get this issue right now on iPad, Nook or Kindle Fire.

This article was originally published in the September 2003 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: An Office of One's Own.

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