Zen and The Art Of Workshop Organization

Does your workshop need some work? We got in touch with Bonnie Joy Dewkett, from The Joyful Organizer, for tips on making the most out of your workshop.

Tools Organized in Workshop

Photo via: Shutterstock

Whether you have a small home workshop in the corner of your garage, or a spacious work area in a standalone building, organizing the area and providing adequate storage will bring order and a sense of calm to what can otherwise be a cluttered, chaotic place. If your workshop is in disarray and it’s hard to find the things you need to tackle projects, you’re more likely to procrastinate. On the other hand, an inviting, well-organized area with space to work encourages creativity and productivity. Clearing your work space can also clear your mind. We got in touch with Bonnie Jow Dekett, from The Joyful Organizer, for her tips on making the most out of your workshop.

Once you’re ready to organize your workshop, where do you start? It’s usually best to have a clean-out session first to discard any items that are no longer functional or that you don’t use. Getting rid of these things will give you a better idea of how much room you actually have to work with as you begin designing your area. "Walk around the space with a trash bag. Fill it with items you don’t use or want anymore. This is a great way to build momentum and you’ll fill up the trash bag much faster than you think," Dewkett mentions.

Next, ask yourself what tasks are particularly difficult to execute in your current space, and what things are routinely hard for you to either find or to keep organized. For example, do you dread it when a project requires hammering because it takes forever for you to find a hammer and locate the right nails? Or, does it take you longer than you’d like to find a sewing kit when you need it? Consider what types of projects you’d like for your area to accommodate, and envision where and how they would be completed.

Once you have an idea of your needs and goals, it’s time to get to work. Here are some ideas for workshop organization and storage that may help you:

Graphing your work space


Graph It

It’s worth the time it takes to measure your area and draw out the space on graph paper. That way, you can see if your plans fit the space before you make any purchases or start moving heavy items around.

Vertical storage shelves


Look Up

The professional organizer explains how you should consider storage ideas for a cohesive and organized design. She says, "Use vertical space. There are lots of awesome organizers you can add to a space….over door shoe racks are great on the backs of doors and can hold small craft items, tools and office supplies. Shelving above doorways and desks is also a great way to use wall space instead of surface space to hold supplies." Be sure to carefully secure items that are vertically stored to avoid accidents and injuries.

Re-use old cabinets


Salvage Items

Home stores and hardware stores feature a wide selection of pre-made cabinets, shelving and workbenches that can work beautifully in your workshop, but they can also be expensive. Salvaged items can perform the same functions while offering significant savings. If you’re planning to renovate your kitchen or bathroom, or if you know someone who is, consider reusing old cabinets and counter-tops by re-purposing them for your workshop. You can do the same thing with old bookcases or office shelving.

Hanging tools on pegboard


Peg It

Utilizing a pegboard is a great way to create vertical storage for the numerous small tools that populate some spaces. In addition to hanging it over a workbench, pegboards can extend to the walls of your space to hold brooms, clamps, garden equipment and a variety of other items.

Clear storage containers


Be Transparent

If you decide to purchase storage containers, consider buying clear ones to make it easier to see what’s inside without having to read labels or open them.

Old coffee cans for storage


Recycle, Reuse

You don’t have to buy a fancy storage system for nails and screws. Old coffee cans and plastic kitchen containers with lids work just as well. A hanging shoe organizer can be placed in an area to hold spray cans, paintbrushes and rolls of tape. Egg cartons can hold nuts, bolts or other small items as well. The cardboard tubes from toilet paper and paper towels can help organize extension cords (label the tubes with the length and type of cord inside), and metal file cabinets can hold sharp tools, like blades and saws.

Storage on wheels


Roll Around

Put rollers or casters on the bottom of woodworking equipment, storage equipment and other items to make it easy to move them out of the way when they’re not in use.

Tools hanging up high


Hang ‘em High

String a clothesline with clips to hang and organize things that are bulky or difficult to store. Use brackets to keep seldom-used objects, like ladders, stored near the ceiling. Bungee cords can help corral hoses, lumber, pipe and other long items too.

Magnetic bar to hold tools


Be Magnetic

Add a magnetic bar to your wall or pegboard to store metal tools, like wrenches and drill bits.

Light bulbs


Let There be Light

Put overhead lights on motion detectors so you don’t forget to turn them off when you leave, or add task lighting over the workbench in other areas where you’ll be working frequently.

Aesthetic work space


Consider Aesthetics

Dewkett also goes into detail on how prioritize your wants and necessities can benefit the energy of a space. "While you can easily over do it with clutter, I like to have a balance between beautiful items and functional items. On my desk I have some small picture frames and plants. These inspire me and make me feel comfortable, even when I’m working long hours." Everything doesn't have to be functional, but make sure it all offers a purpose.

Personal Work Hacks


Incorporate Personal Hacks

Make sure the are is your own. Dewkett says, "Using headphones can be a great way to cut down on external distractions. I suggest making sure the space is COMFORTABLE. If it’s messy, dimly lit or hard to use, you’ll never want to work. Making sure the space fits your personal preferences and needs is key to creativity and productivity."


Bonnie Joy Dewkett, Certified Professional Organizer and Ahs Content Contributor Bonnie Joy Dewkett, Certified Professional Organizer, is the founder of The Joyful Organizer®. She is a nationally recognized organizing expert, author, motivational speaker, and internet radio personality.

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