|These are laughably simple tips that many of you are already using, but I didn't think to do them until I heard it from another source:
1. Keep a container (mine is actually a baby-wipe box sans the lid that is now years old) right next to you when you sew. It needs to be big enough to hold all your little sewing tools (like scissors, seam ripper, various marking tools, my wrist pin-cushion when not in use, a teeny notebook for jotting down notes, a pencil- any of the little things that seem to walk off just when you need them), but big enough that you can dig around in there and not knock stuff out. This has saved me an enormous amount of time when I am sewing. I can spend more time on the project and less time searching.
#2. If you have a little table, like a folding TV tray, set it up next to your machine and keep the box there. This will not only free up your work space, but it also will keep it from getting knocked off when a big piece of fabric (or your hand) comes sweeping it's way. This also helps to serve as an extra storage surface in general.
#3. Keep a small lined trash can right next to you. I kept just tossing stuff on the floor, making frequent clean up a must to keep things sightly. Now, I take threads and fabric notches I have clipped, and just little stuff that would normally land on the floor, and drop them in the trash can. Your work area stays a lot neater while you are sewing. With the lining (I use plastic shopping bags), you can quickly toss the whole deal out and slip another one in. (If you put several of them in the bottom of the can THEN put one in as a lining over them it eliminates a trip to the cupboard to get a new one.)
Again, elementary tips, but ones that I thought were worth mentioning because I didn't think to do them until mentioned to me.