Simplify your van build with an organized shop space
As you build out your campervan, the value of our Fast, Safe Campervan Build Tips, everything neat and organized while you work, is really powerful and the opposite can be very detrimental.
Many years ago on my first day working in a produce department in the Seattle area, my boss was taking me through the basic training
One of the things he told me was that it was impossible to get anything done on the retail floor if the back room was disorganized and dirty.
At the time that went right over my head (I was young, most things went over my head).
Over the years, I’ve realized more and more how true that rule is and it’s something that I’ve really come to embrace as far as work habits go.
You can extrapolate that to a clean desk or clean and well-organized kitchen, but it’s especially true of a campervan build shop space.
It’s even more true if you don’t have a proper shop and you’re building and doing most of the work inside of your van.
The Ultimate Van Build Time Saver
The brief time that it takes to stop and organize things will be paid back many times over as you build out your van.
One of the biggest issues is time spent looking for tools and materials because you set something down and you’re not sure where you put it.
And so now you have to go looking for something as simple as a screwdriver or a tube of glue.
So taking the time to keep things organized as you work on your van is just really important in terms of time spent building.
How to Stop Losing Parts and Materials
As the build goes on we’re collecting stuff. Maybe you get two new packages in the mail from Amazon, or you go to the hardware store and came back with a lot of stuff.
You go pay a bunch of money for fasteners, glue, brackets or something, and because the shops a mess, now you can’t find them.
Or maybe I’m a bit overwhelmed and think I never bought it, so I go buy it again.
That’s happened to me then later I find it and I have doubles of something I didn’t need to spend extra money on.
Campervan Build Safety is Number One!
Time loss is really important but the biggest issues are health and safety related.
To stumble over some debris and hurt yourself or break something, that’s the worst.
If I cut a piece of plywood and then just leave the scraps laying on the floor, well, now I’m stumbling over it and it becomes a safety issue.
Or if I don’t take the time to run the vacuum, then I’m breathing harmful dust, potentially all day, or for weeks on end.
Clean Space, Clear Mind, Better Van Build
If you’re trying to get something done in your space and it’s not clean and organized, it can also cloud your mental space.
If you can start your day with well-organized spaces and surfaces, then it frees your mind to focus on the things that are important.
And of course the opposite of that is piles of tools and sawdust or metal shavings or whatever materials… having to wade through stuff.
If you can walk into a well-organized shop or even if you don’t have a shop and you’re having to do all the building and a lot of the tool work and stuff like that inside the van.
Or if you’re working outside the van on an asphalt slab or on work tables.
Keeping everything as organized as possible is going to help you stay mentally focused on the important building that needs to be done.
Tips for Keeping a Clean and Organized Work Space
Just as you need to organize your gear and supplies before a trip, it’s important to keep a clean and organized shop space.
So here are some of my favorite tips for making sure my tools, materials and work space stay clean and organized.
1. The last thing I do, every day
I always leave time at the end of the day for an absolute and total clean up
I don’t mean mopping the floor, unless, that’s a necessity, but I do mean sweeping and or vacuuming and definitely on countertops, work surfaces and floors.
If I need to be done working by 5 pm, I stop building at 4:30 and clean up.
Walking into that organized space the next day feels really good, and I’m set for a very productive day.
2. Everything in it’s place
Another thing I do is put tools back in their place when I finish using them.
I always wear a tool belt when I work, if you work a lot with a tool belt, you start to realize just how important it is to put that tape measure back in the belt after you’ve used it.
Or the Exacto knife or the utility knife, the pencil, the pen…
I carry a small notebook and that goes back in a tool belt pouch after every use, and at the end of the day.
It’s so easy to use a pen and then drop it on the work surface and get to cutting.
That’s the wrong way to go about it. You want to train yourself to keep that tool belt organized along with everything else.
3. Pre-Task Workspace Touch Up
Not only do I do a final cleanup at the end of the day, but throughout the day, I stop regularly to reorganize.
It can be so easy to get deeply focused on the task at hand and start to forget about organization.
Before I begin a major task, I’ll ask myself, what are the next four or five steps I’m going to take in building this table or attaching these parts… whatever it happens to be.
Then I’ll take a few minutes to organize and clean up for that specific task.
And sometimes if something takes several hours, I’ll stop and reorganize two or three times throughout the process, just to make sure that I know where everything is and to keep the space safe and efficient for working.
I need to be able to put my hand to any tool or material or part quickly so I’m not poking around the shop or workspace.
I don’t want to be constantly digging to find anything.
Recap of Fast, Safe Campervan Build Tips
So those are my suggestions for staying clean and organized as you work. And again, it can not only save you a lot of time, but it can keep you safe and save you money.
- Clean shop = Safe shop
- Clean up at the end of the work day, walk into a clean space each morning
- Uncluttered shop for a clear mind
- Know exactly where those expensive tools and materials are when you need them
- Never buy extras again
- Touch up your work space before starting any large task
Listen to this post on The Campervan Podcast
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Discussion about the value of keeping your workspace clean and organize as you build, and how detrimental the oposite can be.
There are some counterintuitive concepts here. Listen in to learn the how and why of clean and well organized shop, tools and materials.