When I launched See Jane Work.com, in 2003, it was difficult to decorate a home office. Back then jobs were easy to come by, stylish office supplies were not. Sure you could spend your weekends at thrift and antique stores or your money at high-end retailers, but all that would get you is a nice desk pad or pencil cup. Binders and other necessities still left a lot to be desired.
Eight years later much has changed. Stylish office supplies are now easier to find than an actual job in an office. And while the market may be full of stylish, unique and colorful office supplies, your workplace is full of rules and ugly furniture.
The most difficult workspace to decorate is a cubicle. There’s no wall space, paint options or room for an accent chair; there isn’t room for much of anything. You can decorate a cubicle, but it’s not easy. I decided to show you rather than tell you.
At this office, I wasn’t able to go crazy with color as this particular employer had offices that had been professionally decorated. Hopefully, that decorator won’t read my blog because what I’m about to say could be hurtful. The office I made over was awful, full of faux cherry desks and beige and forest green walls (I added the forest part to further emphasize the horror of the color palette).
Here are some tips for cubicle décor:
1. Don’t fight the corporate color scheme. I lucked out with this cubicle in that it was beige and black, many other offices have blue, maroon or even mint green cubicles. It’s not easy to find stylish office supplies that coordinate with mint green. In these situations use complementary or neutral colors as accents. For advice on choosing colors in your workspace read my article on color.
2. Cubicles are small, make sure to “decorate” with items that will be used daily. The workplace is no place for knick knacks.
3. Get creative with your storage. I found out that the metal surrounding the cubicle was magnetic so I used super strong magnets to attach a Three by Three Magazine Pocket and a Spot-On Mini Magnet Hook to hang the scissors.
4. Ask first. If you’ve been in corporate long enough you may subscribe to the motto “it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission” unfortunately that won’t work here. Your hard work and money will go to waste if you’re asked to put everything back the way that it was.
5. Don’t go crazy in the supply cabinet. Keep only what you really need at your desk. The trip to the supply cabinet might be your only exercise so making frequent trips there isn’t such a bad thing.
6. Limit personal pictures or mementos to one wall or space in your cube. Although covering ugly fabric walls with your two-year olds beautiful crayon drawings is an improvement, it can also add to the visual clutter.
7. Consider adding something homey like a lamp or a vase of real flowers. Just remember to choose something small and least likely to offend. A vase of strong scented flowers could send your asthmatic co-worker to the ER.
8. At this point my New Yorker friends are gritting their teeth. This cubicle seems huge compared to what they work in! If your space is no space, invest in lovely file folders for your work in progress, a great pen to use daily, a memo mousepad, and a fun notebook for meetings.
When you're feeling overwhelmed and having difficulty getting started, it helps to make a list. Get all that stuff in your mind down on paper. Limit yourself to one line per item, if you have a due date include that next to the item. Don't worry about priority or additional detail at this time, just get it on paper. Once you've finished, group items into categories by priority, then type, for example errands, calls, urgent, etc. Relief will come as you work through the list and cross things off. To read past Quick Tips click here