Organized Charm: July 2016

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

How to Make Your Workspace Work for YOU (whatever your job may be)


We have a guest blogger today, which I am SO excited about because I know that y'all are going to LOVE this post as much as I did!

We all love to be organized when we work... but most of the posts out there (mine, included) typically focus on how to organize an office workspace. 

But what if you're an artist, sculptor, beekeeper, etc. etc. and you don't JUST need to organize an office, but a whole workshop?! 

Never fear! Jeriann Watkins from is here to help you get organized... no matter what your job is! 

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Organizing Your Home Workspace to Meet YOUR Needs

There are countless tips online for organizing a home office, but many of those focus only on computer-centric office spaces.

Organizing a traditional office is one thing, but many entrepreneurs need to build a workspace where they can create products and store inventory and/or supplies.

Below are some different types of home workspaces and how to begin organizing them.

The Traditional Office

(Image Source: Megaprint Office Murals)

The home office can take many forms, but is often a space for tasks involving paperwork. Emails are written. Reports are created. Calls are taken. Tasks that require a computer are completed. 

The most important organizational aspect of a home office is being able to find information. This includes information for customers, as well as information for the IRS and other administrative entities. 

In the image above, you can see how one person added a large design element to their home office without taking away organizational space. By putting a printed map on the ceiling, the owner was able to personalize their space without taking away wall space for shelves and filing cabinets.

Home Office Organization Tips:
  • Filing cabinets are your friend. There’s a reason that they are an office staple. Filing cabinets are one of the best ways to keep papers safe from damage and easy to categorize and find.
  • Establish a filing system. This will save you countless headaches when looking for purchase histories, dealing with audits, or simply tracking client information.
  • Organize digital files. Even if most of your filing is digital, it is best (and sometimes legally required) to keep hard copies as a backup.
  • Think about workflow. If you complete the bulk of work at your computer desk, then organize your office so that the things you use most are easily accessible from the desk.
  •  Build out accordingly. By putting items you use least in draws and shelves further from you, you will keep the area directly around you ready for action! Those papers you only keep for legal purposes? That filing cabinet can go in an inaccessible corner.
  • Keep personal items separate. This is especially important if you’re claiming a tax deduction for your home office space. You can only claim the space if it is only used for business purposes. Keeping your personal items out of your office will also keep the clutter to a minimum and leave space for the work-essential items you need.

The Workshop

If you create products that require power tools, you probably describe your work space as a workshop. Workshops are designed for efficiency in completing tasks, as opposed to efficiency in finding information. 

This means that workshops need enough space to move about safely and complete production of your productsIf your products require the use of power tools, it is likely that the best place for your workshop is a garage-type area. 

The debris from sanders, saws, and other equipment requires regular cleanup to ensure a safe workspace. A concrete floor will be much easier to maintain than a carpeted space. You also may need to consider ventilation if your products require the use of paint or other materials.

Workshop Organization Tips:
  • Think "safety first". When organizing your workshop, make sure there is plenty of space to operate the equipment you use regularly. 
  • Keep specialty equipment in mind. Specialty equipment often requires extra safety precautions. For example, I just bought a miter saw for my craft business. The manual states that in order to ensure safety, the saw must be secured to a worktable. Since I’m cutting through wood, which causes lots of sawdust, I changed my original plan of keeping the saw in my craft room to moving the saw into the garage and building a secure worktable for it. 
  • Add to your workshop over time. As I continue to use more power tools, I will organize my garage further to become an efficient place to work in. 
  • Choose low maintenance storage units. Fabric cube organizers are nice for papers and office supplies, but they’re a bit delicate for storing dirty tools, paints that might leak, and other workshop products. 
  • Consider metal storage lockers. They’re easy to clean, and have long been used for storing cleaning products and other potentially hazardous materials.

The Artist’s Space

Many people are starting their own businesses creating craft and specialty items. With the popularity of sites like Etsy, there are more opportunities than ever to sell handmade products to a wide audience. This means that crafters who organized their craft space for personal use may find themselves with a space that is not optimal for their new craft business. 

Artists and crafters looking to monetize their creativity will need to design a space that works for their specific craft and workflow. For painters, this means storing supplies efficiently, having a comfortable work area, and having a place to safely store completed work. People selling pottery will likely need a larger space to work, and an area where falling clay won’t cause problems. 

Knitters and others who work with textiles need to find efficient ways to store yarn and fabric so that it’s easily sorted through and unlikely to get tangled.

Craft-Space Organization Tips:
  • Look for object-specific storage. If you work with large swathes of fabric, hanging them in a closet may be the easiest way to see all you have at once. If you make centerpieces or other crafts out of bottles, shallow-depth wine racks will allow you to maximize your space.
  • Cut the clutter. With creative workspaces, it’s easy to save items because they have “potential”. Make sure this doesn’t lead to an abundance of clutter.
  • Every quarter, go through your supply inventory. If there are items that seem to be getting in the way, make plans to use them or find a storage solution in the next quarter. If an item remains on your trouble list for multiple quarters, it may be time to discard or donate it.

These are just a couple of tips for organizing different home workspaces. Do you have organization strategies that have worked for you? Share in the comments!

Jeriann Watkins is currently in the process of organizing her very cramped craft room for her farmer’s market booth. You can check out her adventures at

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Strategies for Studying with ADHD

I recently received a request for a post on How to Study with ADD/ADHD.

“Of course!”, I thought, “I can’t believe I haven’t written about this before now!”.

The most recent numbers from the CDC say that the number of children with ADD/ADHD is currently at 11%!

(Which is roughly 1 in every 10 students, for us math whizzes of the world). 

But we can all be a little fidgety sometimes. And even the most attentive student can stare out the window, lost in a daydream while a professor is reading the PowerPoint presentation word. for. word. but it doesn't necessarily mean that you have ADHD. 

A good rule to remember is that our attention span in minutes is typically our age + 2 (up to 30 minutes). But on the opposite end of the spectrum, I've also read that ADHD can result in hyper-focus, which makes it extremely challenging to switch your brain "off" and move to a different activity. 


If you THINK you might have ADD ADHD but aren’t sure, the questions below can help you. But, of course, see a professional! (and no, "that girl who writes that study skills blog" doesn't count.)

·      Do you have a hard time getting organized?
·      Do you procrastinate when given an assignment?
·      Do you have a hard time completing projects?
·      Do you make impulsive decisions?
·      Do you get bored easily?
·      Do you have a hard time reaching goals?
·      Do you get easily distracted?
·      Do you get so wrapped up in what you’re doing that it’s difficult to switch activities?
·      Do you tend to “over do” or compulsively do things?
·      Do you get easily frustrated or impatient?
·      Do you have low self-esteem?
·      Do you need lots of stimulation to stay interested in things?
·      Do you say or do things without thinking?
·      Do you have a hard time following rules and procedures?
·      Do you frequently fidget?
·      Do you feel bouts of depression?
·      Do you worry a lot yet are accident-prone/careless?
·      Do you have a lot of fears yet are a risk-taker?
·      Do you make careless mistakes?
·      Do you have blood relatives who suffer from ADD ADHD, depression, bipolar disorder, or substance abuse?

According to ADDitude, if you answered, “yes” to 15+ of these questions, you should contact a doctor to get screened for ADD ADHD. Also, there are literally (and I mean that in a figurative way) TONS of resources online! 

Problems & Solutions: 

Below are the 7 Biggest Problems for ADHD students (according to ADDitude) and a couple of strategies for each: 

Problem: Being easily distracted / daydreaming / not paying attention

Strategy 1: There are all kinds of apps out there that keep you from getting on this website or that website. Try one of those if you think it would work! Another strategy is putting your phone on airplane mode (I know, the struggle of not feeling connected). You can still use functions like alarm clock and calculator but it won’t give you the distracting notifications!

Strategy 2: Don’t try to study at home. Your room, roommates, pets, etc. can be unnecessary distractions. Go to your campus library. Most of them have quiet “study rooms” where you can sit quietly and work. If that isn’t an option, check out those headphones that people wear to the gun range or put on their babies for loud events.

(It looks silly but I’ve totally tried it and it does make a difference!)

Problem: Being Disorganized / forgetting or losing things

Strategy 1: Get a planner or use your phone calendar. As soon as you find out about an assignment date, put it into your calendar, then schedule some “warning” dates. The Calendar app lets you choose when you’d like 2 reminders. I like to start warning myself about upcoming due dates at least 2 weeks in advance: 2 weeks, 1 week, 3 days, 2 days, 1 day.

Strategy 2: Get a cute container/basket (an excuse to go to Target? Yes, please!) for your school supplies for each class. Every single day, put those same items in those same containers until it becomes a habit (21 days). Try this strategy with keys, sunglasses, cell phone, etc. Habitually check those stations before you leave to keep yourself from forgetting things!

Problem: Procrastinating with assignments

Strategy 1: Set aside an “Anti-Procrastination Day”. Make it a real thing. Put it on your calendar. Don’t schedule anything else for this day. Use it to power through those things you’re just struggling to start. Set aside large blocks of time to work on your most dreaded assignments & get started!

Strategy 2: Write down a list of EVERYTHING that you must complete- don’t worry about order or priority. Then go back and prioritize each thing on the list. Which things on this list have you been procrastinating the longest? Start them now or get rid of them! Either way, by taking some type of action, you will instantly relieve the stress being caused by procrastinating!

Problem: Failing to complete assignments

Strategy 1: Set a timer for 30 minutes and refuse to give attention to any other project during that time. Keep a blank piece of paper near you. If a distracting thought won’t leave you alone, write it down, flip over the paper, and vow to take care of it once the timer goes off. Try this system every time you work/study and repeat this 30-minute work time daily. 

Strategy 2: Some professors like to write a paragraph (or even entire page!) for assignment instructions. Take a highlighter and highlight the actual actionable steps/tasks from wordy directions. Then rewrite the instructions as a list of clear and concise tasks. Work on each one for 30 minutes a day until the assignment is complete. Your goal: “Incomplete is not an option”.

Problem: Blurting out answers

Strategy 1: Write down your answers/comments on a piece of paper before sharing them with the class. This can help you cut down on impulsive talking/answering in class. It can also help you refine what it is that you actually want to ask the professor. The more thoughtful questions and comments are, the more other classmates will benefit from them as well.

Strategy 2: Give yourself an “allotment” of times to speak out in class. If you know that you can only speak 5 times in class, you’re more likely to make sure that those are quality comments/questions. Keep tally marks on your paper so you know how many times you have left. If you have more questions or comments, write them down and tell your professor after class.

Problem: Sitting through structured activities

Strategy 1: In class, try to sit next to people who will be a “good influence” on you. So, for example, even though it’s hard, don’t sit by that sorority sister who you know will be on her phone the whole time or that friend who rolls her eyes after every comment made by a classmate. By sitting by less distracting people, you’ll have a less difficult time sitting through class.

Strategy 2: Out of class, designate a “work space” and a “work time” to follow consistently every day. The more routine things are, the easier they are to do. Try a study lamp. Also, try to work in the morning, if it’s possible. Cognitive functioning skills pique between 9-12 in the morning. It’s easy for everyone to get distracted in the afternoon!

Problem: Being fidgety / impulsive

Strategy 1: Connect with each of your professors at the beginning of the semester and share your needs with them. It’s better to let them know on the front end that you are uncontrollably fidgety rather than them just thinking that you’re uninterested in their class later on in the year. As the year goes on, they may be willing to work with you on different assignments.

Strategy 2: Teachers have come up with a million ways to help fidgety kids in their classes. Check out this post and this one and then try some of these ideas in your study area at home! The good part of being an adult (or almost an adult) is being able to identify what you need AND being able to go out and get it. Make sure to keep your study area clean and away from a window! 

Of course, I'm certainly no expert. If you have some better strategies or advice, please share it below! :D

Follow Organized Charm on Pinterest for more study and organization tips!  


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