Discover ideas and get tips on how to make your small office, home office, or personal workspace look and feel productive


Unusual (And Cool) Stationery Ideas For Your Desk, Or Somebody Else’s

Looking for a small gift that is a little outside the ordinary, but still useful? Check out these three novel ideas. They won’t break the budget and could bring a smile to even the grumpiest of workmates!

Charging Charlie the Fireman Charger Cable

Charging Charlie Fireman Cable HolderNever lose your phone charger again! Charging Charlie will keep it secure and avoid your MP3, iPod, iPhone, or USB cable from escaping out the back of the desk. At under $20, bright red, and taking up a small desk footprint, it is both practical and fun!


Splat Stan the Drink Coaster

Splat Stan Drink CoasterMaybe you are looking for something with humor a little darker than Charging Charlie. Splat Stan is a coaster for your beverage of choice. Made of a funky silicone rubber it will insulate your cup and keep it from sliding around the desk. This one is under $10 at Amazon and a bargain if you are looking for a small Christmas or birthday gift for somebody at the office.

Amazon also sell a bunch of other similarly black-humored and unusual office accessories by the designer Suck UK.

Tech Tools ‘Fist’ Pen Holder

Tech Tools Fist Pen HolderMost of us have pens, pencils, markers and other odd bits of stationery rolling around the desk. Sure a jam jar can serve the purpose of keeping them together, but why not get funky with this white fistful of usefulness? The end is also magnetised to keep paperclips and other metal objects close at hand. Also available online for under $20 at Amazon.




Increase Office Space By Minimizing Paper

To make your office appear larger and maximize the space available you sometimes need to take a step back and look at behaviors, rather than physical equipment. Reducing paper is one such example of a change you can make to your office that can have a big effect on how much space you really need. The behavioral change will, in turn, reduce the dependency on physical equipment.


Filing cabinets and bookshelves can take up a significant amount of floor space, and in a small office, space is at a premium. By reducing general paper usage, such as reading on screen instead of printing, digitizing invoices, receipts, statements, and other general paperwork, you can reduce or eliminate the need for so much storage. Also consider the length of time to retain documents and what relics from history you are keeping in those cabinets: perhaps you can cull some material that will never be used again?


Small Office Laser Printer

In general if you reduce your dependency on paper you should be able to reduce the number of printers required for your office. With a lower demand for printing you might be able to get away with a compact printer next purchase. Lesser printing also means less consumables such as copy paper and toner, which in turn means less running costs and less storage space needed to house spares.

Desk space

An indirect benefit of reducing general paper usage around the office is that people will not have so many physical files, papers or documents to keep close by. Large desks are no longer required when you only need enough space for the computer and one stack of files.

Bins and Recycling

Less paper usage will result in less rubbish or recycling. You will not need as many bins in or outside the office.


Staplers, paperclips, folders, etc all take up space – typically in the stationery cupboard. With a lesser demand for paper you probably don’t need so many spares on hand. If you have shredders in the office you might also be able to eliminate them and free up floor space.


So how do you start reducing paper? In our next article we will detail some methods to get started.

The idea of a truly paperless office is outdated and in most (if not all) industries will never happen. There is something quite nice in the tangible feeling of paper, or the ability to draw ideas in freehand with a pen. However you can reduce paper usage and in turn, reduce a lot of the need for office furnishings, big and small. You will also save money and help save the environment. For more tips on minimizing paper use and making your office more eco-friendly, check out The Environmentally Friendly Office.

Beating That Confined Feeling In The Small Office Environment

Small and home offices need a few sharp stategies to avoid that confined sensation. There will often be a minimal level of ‘stuff’ necessary to just make the office operate. The following are some space-saving ideas to turn that crowded office towards a more productive one.


Additional lumination

A home office showing smart storage and lighting solutions

Sometimes the issue is basic: you simply do not have sufficient light. The confined experience you’ve got could just be a shadow. Examine your ceiling lighting. Fluorescents will be weaker than incandescent or LED lighting, so you may require more of these to fill up the room with light.

Also look at your table: have you got a table light? In many places of work tables are situated against a walls, and consequently with overhead lights they are usually behind your office chair. You may be creating a shadow over your workdesk and for that reason an economical table lamp can certainly help brighten your personal work space.


Unlock your window space

Further to artificial lighting, check out the sunlight pouring in in to your office. When you’ve got a window, consider what is surrounding it or shielding it. Bookshelves and cupboards which are positioned near the window frame perhaps is decreasing the perspective that light enters in the room. Try relocating those furnishings a number of inches to the side which will permit more light to come in and saturate the room.

For those who have curtains or coverings over your window, should they be opened up? If you’d like to keep these things closed for personal privacy reasons, or perhaps to avoid glare from the sun, you may want to check out something semi-transparent which will soften the light and shield you.


Tidy up the desktop

This holds for the pieces of furniture variety of desk, and the desktop on your computer . Clean it up! Do away with anything except the things you require.

Desk clutter in a home office that is contributing to that confinement feeling

On your furniture desk this means only keeping the documents, documents, and devices you require at the moment. Whatever else really should be away from view and out of mind. With your computer desktop the same is applicable. Wipe out all the icons and only have the programs and data files you really need.

All those items in front of your vision are potential distractions from your work that you should be doing.


Go up with shelving

Maybe you already have shelves, but are you taking advantage of them? You should think about extending shelving up to the roof. It is likely you have many folders, gear, and bits and bobs that you rarely use, but do not wish to throw away. So go vertical and put them up high. On the random situation you need to stand on a crate or stepladder to get them it certainly won’t be as terrible as tripping on them everyday because they are lying on the ground or taking up table space.


Combine or take away gear

The typical example is the MFC (Multi Function Centre) which combines a printer, photocopier, scanning device, and facsimile device all-in-one. These days there’s no excuse to have individual pieces of equipment.

In addition look around at specialized gear you could have such as binding equipment, guillotines, and laminating devices. Do you want them or would they be placed away to storage? Even better, give them to charity and on the situations you would like this sort of devices, head right down to a nearby copy centre and make use of their own.


We would all prefer to have more office space yet it is not always feasible. By employing some of these hints you should be in a position to open up your office area and get away from that closed down, crowded sensation. A brighter, less cluttered area will probably inspire work productivity and creativity, and help keep your head focused entirely on the task at hand.

Tackling distractions in the small office

A small office (or home office) often means a small business, and in small business distractions are rife! You need to take control of the situation and work on reducing both the frequency of distractions, and the intensity. Here are some of the top distractions you are likely to encounter in a small office and what you can do about them:

Turn down the volume

We have covered this before in dealing with Noise and Small Talk In The Small Office. Less noise means less temptation to listen in or otherwise have your attention diverted from the job at hand.

Turn down the phone ringer volumes (and altogether if you have multiple phones ringing in one small office), speak softer, and generally encourage less social chatter during work hours. In a small office just two people talking can (and probably will) distract everyone else in the room. Whatever you can do to reduce the volume will have a profound impact on people’s ability to get work done.

Hold the toast

You know that pop-up message that appears in the corner of your screen when email arrives? That is called toast (as in toast popping up out of a toaster, get it?). You need to get rid of it! Turn off all visual and audio alerts for email so that you aren’t interrupted when new mail arrives, and tempted to go read them.

We also suggest setting your email not to download automatically: force yourself to click the button to grab new mail off the server. Doing so means if you need to get in to your email program to check your calendar, or look at a previous email, you won’t be pulled away to look at new emails arriving.

Email less, Web Less

This is for masters of personal time management, and the effects can be spectacularly good.

Try to cut email down to just a few periods a day. Three periods of 30 minutes each, at most. Think you have too many emails? If you can discipline yourself to clear the boxes in 30 minutes you will find a way to get through it. You might need to write shorter more direct emails, less fluff, and perhaps file all those email newsletters in to a folder to scan through just once a week.

If you can avoid email when you first get to your desk that is also a fabulous habit to get in to. Instead, when you arrive, work on the things that really matter – your priorities. Unless your job is to perform a support role via email, the chances are email is not your #1 priority!

Remove clutter

All those papers, books, stationery, and general ‘stuff’ lying over over your desk should be cleaned up – they constantly strive to have your attention. Check our Ideas On How To Organize A Small Office for a strategy on removing clutter. If office supplies and stationery is your problem you will find some more great tips in How To Organize Office Supplies In The Small Or Home Office.

Environmental distractions

Sometimes you have done all you can in your personal space, but there is something else bugging you, and you just can’t work it out. You feel constantly distracted, fidgety, or inattentive. Perhaps it’s the environment you work in? Look for problems with these items and whether you have the right ergonomics to support productive work:

Furniture placed too close to each other can be a distraction in a small office

  • Chair – comfortable? Correct height and angle?
  • Desk – large enough? Correct height?
  • Proximity – are desks too close to each other? people bumping in to each other when moving about?
  • Light – too much? too little?
  • Color – too bold? or bland and uninspiring?
  • Heating, cooling, and ventilation are also worth checking out to make sure they are all set correctly.


There are probably many more distractions that are common in small offices, so share them through the comments form below and please tell us how you tackled them. We would love to read about your experiences.


How To Organize Office Supplies In The Small Or Home Office

If you are in a home office or small office the chances are that you are responsible for purchasing and organizing the stationery supplies yourself. You will not have an office manager or external agent who keeps a stationery closet well stocked and regularly replenished. Here is how to organize those office supplies so that you don’t fill your drawers with useless gear, but still have the essentials on hand.

1. Review and sort what office supplies you already have

Lay it all out, or at least go through drawer by drawer, shelf by shelf, and work through each and every item. Sort items in to four categories:
Stationery for small or home office

  1. What do you use daily?
    Keep these close at hand, ideally in a drawer or shelf within arm’s reach.
  2. Weekly?
    Consider moving all of these to a storage bin/basket/box that you don’t mind digging around in for a minute.
  3. Just some of the time?
    Perhaps the garage is a better place to store these, out of sight and out of mind.
  4. Have not been used in the last year or will never use again!
    Get rid of these… they are taking up valuable space! It could be a fax machine, an adding machine, or just something simple like cable ties, rubber bands, or blank CDs. Give them away to somebody who can make use of them.

2. Find substitutes and eliminate duplicate office stationery

That calculator you have lying around: could you use the calculator (or spreadsheet) on your computer instead? The fax machine: moving to an electronic fax service could save you money and a HEAP of desk space.

Even for the small items try to think about which ones can substitute for others. For example, all these items do practically the same thing: stick paper together. Can you reduce it down to just one favourite?

  • Paperclips
  • Bulldog clips
  • Staples
  • Plastic pockets
  • Binders and a hole punch
  • Ring lock and other fasteners

Similarly with colored pens, highlighters, whiteboard markers: how many do you really need? Chances are only one or two, not a whole set of colors.

3. Anything stationery you still need?

Check out our Stationery Checklist for commonly used items around the office. After all, organization goes both ways: you might be missing something that you need and don’t want to be caught short.

4. Minimal desktop = maximum usefulness

Stationery used all the time such as your favorite pen can be left on the desk, but everything else should be moved off to make way for useful gear – such as your computer, notebook, and desk lamp. Clutter on the desktop makes you look untidy, and chances are, you also feel untidy having it there, distracting you from the work at hand.

5. Organizers, caddies, trays and other smart storage ideasStationery Organizer For Your Office Supplies for stationery

Office supply stores are full of plastic drawer organizers, pen caddies, stationery trays and other small-item organization ideas. They are inexpensive and now come in a wonderful array of colors and variety. As a bonus you might tend to reduce the amount of stuff you have in attempt to fit it all in the tray.

You might also look around the home for little buckets or boxes that could do the same thing. Even an old plastic container (such as a yoghurt tub), cleaned out and spray painted can look great. Punch a few holes in the side and you have a unique piece that can do everything a store-bought caddy can do!

6. Rinse and Repeat

Every 3 months review again before your small or home office workspace gets out of hand. Set that recurring reminder in your calendar right now and you’ll find that 5 or 10 minutes every three months is a lot easier to maintain than an hour or un-cluttering every year.


Have you come across any cool ideas for organizing office supplies in your small office or home office? Let us know! We would love to read about them.

Stationery Checklist For Your Small Or Home Office

In large offices you often have a stationery cupboard you can pull stuff from. In your home or small office you need to think ahead. Here’s your stationery checklist for your trip to the store before you set up your small or home office:

  • Pens – blue, black, red
  • HighlighterStationery for small or home office
  • Permanent marker (Texta / Sharpie)
  • Pencil and pencil sharpener
  • Colored pencils
  • Colored pens
  • Colored markers
  • Eraser
  • Correction tape / fluid / Liquid Paper
  • Mechanical pencil and spare leads
  • Plain paper (for printer)
  • Notebooks, ruled paper, binder books
  • Scrapbook, art book
  • Ruler
  • Glue
  • Sticky tape + dispenser
  • Packing tape + dispenser
  • Bulldog / Fold back clips
  • Stapler and staples
  • Rubber bands
  • Paper clips
  • Hole punch: 2 hole? 3 hole? 4 hole?
  • Drawing pins
  • Plastic pockets
  • Manila folders
  • Storage pockets
  • Arch folders: 2 ring? 3 ring? 4 ring?
  • Folder dividersMore stationery for small or home office
  • Hanging files
  • Filing trays
  • Sticky labels (eg Avery) for addressing or filing
  • Post-Its / yellow stickies
  • Index cards
  • Label maker and spare tape
  • Scissors
  • Box cutter / utility knife / Stanley knife
  • Guillotine
  • Calculator
  • Printer toner
  • Tissues
  • Water bottle
  • Paper towel
  • Postage stamps
  • Envelopes
  • Rubber stamps (return address, entered, paid)
  • Laminator and spare pouches
  • USB memory sticks
  • Batteries (for electronic equipment, for wireless keyboard and mouse)
  • Calendar, wall planner
  • Desk pad
  • Blu-tack / green tack
  • Wall hooks (eg ‘Command’)
  • Whiteboard / dry erase markers
  • Whiteboard eraser and cleaning fluid

And since you are out you might as well pick up a few other essentials:

  • Coffee, tea, sugar
  • Cookies / biscuits / snacks
  • Desk lamp
  • Wall clock
  • Toilet paper
  • Cleaning equipment: broom, mop, bucket, cloth, spray, etc

Did we miss something? Please share it with a comment below and we’ll add it to the above list.

Not sure on how to store all this new stuff? Check out our Ideas On How To Organize A Small Office.