Organize Design Studio

8 Tips for Organizing Your Design Studio—and Your Precious Time

Take a look at your desk right now: Is it covered in stacks of paper and swatches and sticky notes, maybe even—bonus!—a wrapper from the Kind bar you called lunch? Clutter can feel inevitable when you’re a busy business owner and ironic when you’re an interior designer: You spend your day creating beautiful, functional spaces for clients, yet your own workspace often feels anything but. If this sounds like you, it’s time to stop waiting for some less-busy day that never comes and bump organizing your interior design studio to the top of your priority list. Not only will getting your design studio organized help you be more creative and efficient—helping drive your topline—it’ll reduce your stress levels and help you think clearly when you’re juggling approximately 1,352 projects (or so it can often feel, when you’re a busy interior designer). Not sure where to start? For a recent Ivy webinar, we tackled exactly this, asking organizing expert Rachel Rosenthal, cofounder of Rachel & Company, to share her smartest tips for reorganizing a design studio, including easy-to-maintain systems that’ll help you and your employees remain focused and at the top of your game. Watch the webinar—Pro Tips for Organizing Your Design Studio—or just read on for the top takeaway tips.

Lead image courtesy of Rachel Rosenthal

First, declutter.

When piles of work-related debris await your attention, it’s best to knock off easy-to-conquer areas first, as a way to build momentum. “Start the decluttering process by going through the contents of the least difficult category to review,” Rosenthal suggests. “Once you start seeing progress, the motivation will help you tackle the next area.”

Note what’s working and what’s not.

You don’t have to overhaul everything; if certain filing systems are working well, don’t mess with them. “Make sure that you’re organizing based on how you and your team work best, and create systems that support your routines,” Rosenthal notes. “Trying to break a good flow could result in a new system not being long-lasting, which is a waste of time—and I know that you don’t have that to spare. Jot down what’s working and what could be improved and use that as your roadmap to identify which organizational improvements could be made.”

Make your desk sacred.

It should be your command center, not a landing pad for every paper you’ve handled today. Carefully choose what lives there so you feel energized and focused when you sit down. “Get all of your essentials in one place so that you know not only where to put them, but where to find them,” Rosenthal says. Reserve prime, within-reach real estate for the things you know you’ll be using as you work, like a calendar, pens and paper. Designate a less-prime place for the things you don’t interact with several times each day, like paper bills, business cards or vendor brochures you collected at market.

Don’t strive for unrealistic perfection.

A meticulously styled studio that showcases your design aesthetic is a lovely goal, but first and foremost, think realistically about how each part of your space functions (or could function better). “My office is not always neat—there is a difference between being neat and being organized,” Rosenthal explains. “I’m not aiming for [perfection], ever. What I do want is an office that allows for me to quickly be able to get things back in order at the end of the day, and to be able to find what I need, when I need it, so that my time can be focused on my clients and my business.”

Implement an end-of-day reset.

This is the best way to ensure things always go back where they’re supposed to. “I know that time is limited for all of us, but make it a priority to reserve the last five to 15 minutes of the day to reset your workspace,” Rosenthal says. “Not only will it help you keep up with organization, but you’ll thank yourself the next time you step into your office space and aren’t greeted by a sloppy desk.”

Reorganize your time, while you’re at it.

Look for clutter in your schedule, too. Are you overcomplicating tasks like client proposals and timekeeping? “Identify areas where your workflow could be improved and seek out opportunities to make changes,” says Rosenthal, who now uses Ivy to streamline all her behind-the-scenes business tasks and save time. “It’s made it possible for me to manage my clients, stay on top of my invoicing and keep all of my business proposals and orders organized in one place, which is key.”

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*NEW BLOG* Who else’s kids are obsessed with constantly changing the looks of their room (or is just my girls)? _____ We moved in over 2.5 years ago and I can’t tell you how many times my girls have changed the art on their walls and reorganized everything in site! 🖼 _____ Our go-to for well priced, beautiful, framed pieces is @minted. And this round of changes, my girls steered right to their foil art. Have you seen their pieces? You have to check it out and I am telling you it is NOT just for kids. I snuck in a purchase of my own piece for my office! ⭐️🌟 ____ And what is even more exciting is they are having a 20% off sale on all foil art right now. You’ll have to check it out! Use the code SHINE for the discount read more about how we worked with @minted. LINK IN BIO. ____ #minted #mintedart #sponsored #getorganized

A post shared by RACHEL ROSENTHAL (@rachelorganizes) on

Cut the procrastinating.

And then there’s the mental clutter, which you can cut back on by sticking to this simple trick: If something takes less than five minutes, do it right away. “This can be as simple as putting things back where you found them or responding to the quick emails bogging down your inbox,” Rosenthal says.

Schedule your organization reboots now.

Put dates on your calendar when you’ll revisit your new studio-organization systems—declutter once again, see what’s working, tweak what’s not. “Staying organized involves occasional maintenance, and if I treat organization check-ups like an appointment, I’m more likely to stay accountable,” says Rosenthal, who suggests doing this monthly or quarterly.

More from the Ivy archives: Tips for designing your workspace to maximize creativity, how to choose the perfect meeting spot for your client and 6 ways to take control of your day.

Ivy is the leading business management platform and community helping home professionals streamline their businesses by providing the technology, resources, and support they need to thrive. To learn more about Ivy, schedule a demo with an Ivy Guru who can show you how designers use Ivy to streamline their workflow and make more time for what they love, design.