I mostly spray small projects like the clock in my avatar. I have been spraying lacquer which dries faster and cuts down on over spray getting all over everything but still I have the problem. I have made a small spray booth out of a card board box about 2 foot square with the box fan behind it and short cardboard sides but no top. I have also been making a few corn hole boards and painting them with laytex house paint. I am using a 4" roller to paint them so the painting goes pretty quick but it's the curing time that is slowing me down. I have been waiting 2 days before using painters tape to make designs.
I have read about the Earlex 5500 and while it's not the best sprayer it does a pretty good job of spraying just about any thing. I think first I will make a better spray booth and see how that works.
Thanks for the context. Now we can address the real issue in a logical manner.
I can offer a few options and suggestions. However, you are the ultimate determiner of what will work for you.
The first step is, indeed, a better spray booth. If you do a search I'm sure that you will find something that will work and fits your physical space needs. I believe that Woodsmithshop.com did a fold up, wall mounted, spray enclosure in the past year or so. You might start there. There are a lot of other examples out there. I'm sure that there are some of the members here that can offer some help.
Since you are doing small(er) projects. Chuck's suggestion is a valid alternative. An airbrush is great at doing small things, and the overspray can be kept to a very manageable level. However, you might be limited by the volume of the reservoir. Larger containers are available, however.
If you have a compressor handy a small HVLP may be a viable alternative. I'll take heat from certain quarters, but I do have a HF touchup gun with a 0.8mm tip. It is fantastic for spraying waterborne finishes on smaller areas. It is limited by the 4 oz cup but would be perfect with an 8 oz replacement. It was cheap and at the price no loss if I eventually have to replace it. So far, it has not let me down. However, I am just spraying water and/or alcohol through it and not a heavier material or pigment.
For spraying Lacquer you could probably use a 0.8 - 1.2 mm tip and be OK. Some of the spraying experts may need to weigh in here as I am not the expert here.
If you continue to use spray cans follow the label directions. Most will call for a 12" maximum
distance, for lacquer that will probably be a little closer. If you get out too far, the material is dry before it hits the intended target. This is the reason you get things like orange peel, cloudiness, or flaking finish. If it goes on dry it won't stick or provide a finish that has "flowed" and leveled out when it does dry. Just causes more work.
Hope this helps.
Edited: Sorry, I was a little slow on this post and I see that Bernie and Dan slipped in ahead. Both have offered good advice.