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Organization Basics: Desk Space Override

Ever wonder how big-name designers create all their fabulous pieces? Where do they get all those amazing ideas? The secret is in the desk. Their desks are blank slates. They have clean, purposeful work spaces that are free of distraction and clutter. That last one is hard for me. I admit it. I want everything at my fingertips, and I keep more odds and ends than I should. So how do we break the habit and create inspiring work spaces for ourselves? Here are a few helpful rules I've learned to follow (kicking and screaming) that have really helped.

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1. Find a desk that inspires you.

Now, I don't mean run out and buy a really expensive desk. What I want you to think about it is what the work surface means to you. Let me give you an example. My desk happens to be a vintage dining table with an enameled metal top, two sides that pull out to make it wider, and metal legs. This was my 23rd birthday gift from my husband. It's not in the greatest shape. The metal legs are a bit rusted, the enamel is chipped, and the wood base, well, could use a new coat of paint, but I love my table. It has character, great memories and style. Now, one downside is I can't do any metal work there because I don't want to hammer on it. So in that case, I switch to using my workbench in the garage. Here's a link to the newsletter on it from last summer.

Make sure your desk is sturdy and away from curious 2-year-olds (or older), rambunctious dogs and inquisitive cats. You wouldn't be a happy beader if your project got pulled apart or fell all over the floor.

Finally, look over the surface of your desk. Make sure it's level (beads like to roll) and somewhat smooth. You don't want your Fireline to get caught on a rough area.

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2. Keep it clean.

Keep as few items as possible on your work surface. (Notice, I said work surface and not desk? I want you to now think of the top of your desk as a piece of real estate for working.) If you don't have drawers, like me, you can keep a small organizer or pencil cup for the pens, pencils and other tools you use most. The more you put on your desk, the less space you have for working. If you want to be surrounded by art, color palettes or inspiring quotes, I recommend a magnetic or cork bulletin board above your desk.

All right ... I maybe, sort of break this rule, but for good reason. I have a 6-cube organizer on my desk that serves as my "pencil cup" for a few of the crafts I do regularly. However, I have it on its shortest side and at an angle across a corner.This cleaning thing must also be done when you're in the middle of a project. (This is where the artist in me comes out.) I dread project cleanup. But even if you're in the middle of a project, and you have to walk away to eat or get some sleep, clean up what you can. You'll be glad to come back to a semiclean desk that doesn't smell like last night's Bolognese. (Don't give me that look! Yes, I make Bolognese. It's fantastic!)

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3. Portability is key.

I regularly work on different types of crafts, from paper to painting, from sewing to -- of course, -- jewelry-making. I can't have all those things around me all the time. (Talk about claustrophobia!) So I have off-desk organizers. I have three sets of plastic drawer cabinets and a four-shelf metal rack to the right of my desk.

I have a confession: I'm obsessed with metal shelving racks. I have a bunch in my garage and at least five in different rooms of my home. They hold so much stuff, and the shelf heights are very customizable. (Interested in one? Or a few? You'll get a great deal when they're on sale at Target or Menards.) I use my metal shelving rack to hold large plastic storage boxes of fabric, my various sewing and paper crafting machines, and general crafting supplies. Keeping my supplies in organized boxes allows me to transfer them from the shelves to my desk and back quickly.

I have two of my plastic drawer cabinets under my desk and the third to the left. I have to admit, they aren't perfectly sorted yet, but I know where things are, and they are always in close reach.

Due to our growing family and needs, I've converted my half of our bedroom into a craft area, and I don't think I'd have it any other way. It's helped me to reduce my supplies and focus on my passions. I actually craft more, as well, because I'm in our room when my husband reads at night. I hope these simple rules help you craft more too!