Getting Organized for the New Year. Part 1: Creating the Ideal Workspace

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Done By 5: Getting Organized for the New Year

Part 1: Creating the Ideal Workspace

People use the new year as an opportunity to update and renew, which is why we make resolutions. We recognize that we need changes, or to take risks to make our lives better, so we can live happier, healthier lives. I had set my resolutions, but this change was beyond just a resolution, it was necessary for me, my business, and the small business I work for. I needed to create my ideal workspace.

As the newest member of the Done By 5 team and new to virtual assisting, I entered into this new adventure in my life with my laptop, my phone, some tablets of paper, and an ottoman. Yes, you read that correctly, an ottoman! My overpriced ottoman from Crate and Barrel became my pseudo-work space, it functioned well enough. But let’s be honest,  I didn’t buy an ottoman to just be covered in tablets, notecards, and technology. No, I bought it so after a long day, I could melt into my couch with my feet up and binge watch some Netflix.

I worked this way for four months. I didn’t work this way because I wanted to. I spent hours teaming over websites searching to find something functional, that fit my space,  I liked, and fell within my budget. But nothing met my criteria. I had an idea created in my mind and I couldn’t find it, my only alternative was to have something custom made.

My new desk and shelf. Print of shelf is Monet,  Still Life with Flowers and Fruit,  1869. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. 

My new desk and shelf. Print of shelf is Monet, Still Life with Flowers and Fruit, 1869. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. 

Once I decided what direction I was going in, getting the desk may have been the easiest part. With some quick measurements of the space and rough sketch, I turned it over to my partner, Miles, giving him full artistic freedom to build me a desk. With the help of his father, Stephen, at S.L. Berger Fine Woodworking, I had a beautiful walnut veneer desk with a built in swiss coffee shelf and complementary tall shelf to match, all custom built. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting such a modern design, but the more and more I use it and and notice its near perfect features, the more I love it!

But having the proper furniture in only the beginning. I needed to make it my own, to make it work for me. This is where Target’s “Bullseye’s Playground” became my best friend. It is a great jumping off point to get not only functional items, but things that fit MY style and personality. The beginning of the year is the ideal time to take on a project like this, because there so many fun choices to choose from. For me it was their brushy painted flowers design, it pairs perfectly with an early Monet print I have. I swooped up a desk calendar, planner, and dry erase board. Now that I knew my theme and essentially how I wanted to decorate my space, I needed to still make sure it was functional.

My small shelf with letter organizers stacked and magazine holders covered with scrapbook paper. 

My small shelf with letter organizers stacked and magazine holders covered with scrapbook paper. 

The biggest priority of my work space was to organize my files and make it practical for the type of work I do. Using stackable letter trays, I am able to dedicate space to not only each of my clients, but to my family as well. I can now easily access notes when I get phone calls, even if I am working on another clients project. Magazine holders contain archived or not frequently needed items. (Fun tip: Scrapbook paper is the perfect size to glue on the “spine” of a magazine holder to add color and unity to your space.) One of my favorite pieces is my grandparents’ bento box that I use to store office supplies. My shelves aren’t just to be functional for work, I also want them to reflect who I am.

I have dedicated space for the things I love, filling the shelves with books with ideas that represent me. The beautiful works of Monet and Diebenkorn bring beauty to my life, while the writings of Rand, Aristotle and Rawls are present to stimulate my mind. My box of art supplies are easily accessible along with my digital camera, both staring back at me, waiting for me to fulfill my new years resolution. And of course there are all things plant from fun ceramic cacti to growing guides for Japanese maples. My shelves and space are a representation of who I am.

My workspace isn’t perfect nor complete but I am absolutely loving it! This past week has been the first week using it and instead of trying to motivate myself get work done, I find myself wanting to get it done. When the phone rings, I no longer have to fumble through piles of paper trying to find my clients information. I am organized and right at the perfect time because more work and responsibility is coming my way. My new desk is an absolutely perfect start to the new year.  

The things I learned from this project, (from a business side)…

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  1. Don’t settle. In many ways I just started my own small business and don’t exactly have the “extra” funds dedicated to costly expenses. The important thing to remember, when it comes to your small business, it is okay to make investments, especially if they are in yourself. The money, time, and effort that have been put into this project are already starting to pay themselves off not only monetarily but  through my physical and emotionally happiness as well.
  2. Make your space work for you. Your workspace should help you do your work efficiently and easily. If it doesn’t... then change it. Think about what you need your space to do. What do you like? Don’t like? What works? What doesn’t? Get all the proper tools you need to accomplish this. It is great to not feel stressed, that unnecessary stress can be hindering you from reaching your full potential
  3. Make your space your own. Your space should be a reflection of you. Just because it is a work space doesn’t mean it can’t be an extension of you and your personality. It needs to be a space you want to be in. The whole reason why you started your own small business was to be your own boss. So do it!

If you don’t have your ideal work space… my advice…. Create it, stat! It’s an investment but it will take you and your small business to the next level.

Done By 5 Samantha Okazaki. DB5. Virtual Assistants. San Francisco Bay Area. Done By 5 Virtual Assistants. . 

If you and your small business are in need of some help (implementing those business resolutions maybe?), set up a free 20 minute consultation with Michelle to see how Done By 5 can help.

Share your workspace with us. What do you love about it? What office supply is an absolute necessity at all times?