Staying organized when your home is also your office can be difficult- especially so if you live in a small(ish) house.
My (Celina) family lives in a 1,200 square foot ranch. We have a partially finished basement which is the same size as the house. So we have about 2,400 square feet, but we really live in 1200. We’re a family of 5, with 3 bedrooms upstairs. So two kids share, the baby has his own room and Andy and I have a bedroom. The kitchen and living room are modest- basically, I can vacuum the entire upstairs by plugging into two different outlets.
Anyway, apart from actually living in this house, this is also Shabby Alpaca headquarters. As I said, the basement is partially finished- meaning, nothing is pretty. There’s open beams (not the Pinterest-cool kind, the actual working beams that the contractors installed 50 years ago), drywall and wood paneling walls and concrete floors. Knowing we needed the space, we carved out a TV room down here which features a couch and a TV and someone’s carpet remnant they donated to our cause of not installing carpet until we redo the basement.
It’s all very interior design-y. The basement is broken up into 4 rooms. The laundry room, TV room/kids playroom, storage room and guest bedroom (with 1/2 bath). There is absolutely nothing cozy or perfect in the basement, but you’ve got to go with what you have.
Sharing my (smallish) home with my business requires a level of organization and attention to detail that just living in a house does not require. Basically, we run an entire retail business from my basement. Deliveries of product, shipping of orders, managing our online store, prepping for shows and markets, storing our inventory, pricing our inventory, keeping up with emails and social media: it all happens in this basement. And I don’t think it could happen well without us being organized. I’ve always been an organized, neat and tidy person, so sharing my home with my business wasn’t intimidating. But sharing my office and retail space with my family was another story. See, I don’t want the Shabby inventory or my Shabby to-do list getting lost in the shuffle of 3 kids; I don’t want our alpaca sweaters being used as super hero capes and I don’t want my two-year old painting on my tax documents. So I had to take my organization to the next level. Enter: Kon Mari.
I’ve blogged extensively on my personal blog about the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and how it has completely changed my life. You can read the series I wrote over at Notesfromtheneighborhood.com about this Japanese style of decluttering.
Part 1, covers what Kon Mari is, so I won’t repeat it here, but to sum it up very briefly: Kon Mari is a one- and done decluttering process that causes you to examine every possession and keep or discard it based on whether or not it brings you joy. The author, Marie Kondo, suggests that you declutter your entire house quickly and never look back. When you read my series you will see that I have done just that. Here are the other blogs from the series if one part just wasn’t enough: Part 2, Part 3, Update, Party Edition.
Briefly, here is Kon Mari: Shabby Alpaca Edition. The Kon Mari method requires you to organize your home by category- not by room- so when you get to say, office supplies, you go through your entire house and gather all office supplies and then put them in one place and declutter from there. Because of this, I didn’t specifically Kon Mari my office, I Kon Mari’d my whole house and the office was a part of that.
Turns out, I had 3 offices in my house. One upstairs where I stored mail and some of my pens and papers, one downstairs where I had some office supplies and one in the basement guest bedroom where I had the computer. Kon Mari caused me to gather all these things into one place. Once I had everything together, it didn’t make sense to put it back into 3 places, so now I have one office- for both my home and business- and it is wonderful! In my office, I know where literally every.single. office supply is. Clipboard- got it, highlighter, right here, pens, got ’em- and no junk ones- only pens that bring me joy are allowed in this office! My friend with 8 kids tells me she doesn’t even bother to look for paper clips, she just calls me and asks to borrow some since I know where all mine are.
Everything we need to manage Shabby Alpaca is neat, tidy and in order in this little unfinished basement. And the best part- it’s actually a space that brings me joy. It probably wouldn’t bring everyone joy, but because of Kon Mari, I’ve learned what brings me joy and I’ve surrounded myself with it. Awesome smelly candles, live plants, pocket sized alpacas, photos of my family and friends, cute notes from my kids- it’s all in this small space that is our office. Staying organized with Kon Mari is easy- once all your paperclips have a home, every time you find one on the ground your cat was playing with, you put it back where it goes. Easy- peasy.
And as far as inventory and show supplies go- they live in another room in the basement (no photos because it is so-not exciting- a bunch of bins stacked up). But the point is, they are organized and neat and we can get to every box with ease, we have all of our tagging and pricing supplies together, all of our displays together and our inventory is easy to manage and pack up when it’s market time!
I just want to say that this space is not beautiful or inviting. Someday I’d LOVE to have an office that belongs on Pinterest, but for now, our office is organized and it’s as lovely as it can be given what we have to work with. And sometimes the best thing is to do the best with what you’ve got.
If you were hoping for some kind of magic formula here, don’t be disappointed, but I just gave it to you: Kon Mari is the way to go to getting and staying organized- whether you run your business out of your home or just live there. I’ll be honest: Kon Mari is not an easy thing to do. In fact it is time consuming and completely different from any organizing model you’ve ever tried (which might just be why it works so good). But- you can do it! Good luck and we’d love to hear your success stories!
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