For almost 25 years now, we have run a business of one sort or another from a home office. What we have found is that it takes discipline to run a business from our home. The discipline to head over to our dedicated office area, and the discipline to close the door at a reasonable time and spend time with each other, family and friends.
Here are some things we have learned over the years that you may find helpful when you are preparing to work from a home office.
Clear the clutter!
There are those rare few people who actually thrive in chaos, but studies show that most of us do not. Even if we pretend to ignore the mess, it will bother us in our souls. It is important that your home office area be a place that is neat and well organized so your work productivity doesn’t slow down. Here are some tips for maintaining order in your home office:
Have a dedicated space
Make sure your home office actually has its own space that is not territory for anything else. You may not have an extra bedroom to do this, but you should at least have a corner of your living room, bedroom or even kitchen that you call your home office.
Keeping mail, notes and other paperwork pertaining to your home office organized is essential. Make sure you have enough storage space for these items. Invest in a file cabinet or get a desk that has drawers that double as filing cabinets to keep it under control. There is nothing more frustrating than needing a particular document and not being able to find it.
Utilize your wall space in your home office area. Place a bulletin board in your work area to allow you to put important information on it so it is easily accessible. This is a low space way to keep phone numbers, reminders and notes off your desk.
Make Sure Your Desk is Not a Mess
Have a designated area where you keep your office supplies. I keep mine in a cabinet which looks like an end table, but it has doors that open the shelves where I store my office supplies. Extra paper, pens, paperclips, tape, and pens. For things I use throughout the day, I have desk organization tools such as a mason jar holding my pens, and a smaller divided container for my stapler and paper clips.
Many of your documents could be digital if you get a scanner. What I use is the Neat Scanner. Great way to keep from having to keep a hard copy of such as a letter, scan it into your computer and move it to a USB drive. Make sure you name it something that you can easily remember.
Invest in a paper shredder. This will make it much easier to let go of papers that may have personal information on them that you no longer need, but have been holding onto.
Set Up A Way To file Your Documents
Get the most efficient filing system you can afford. For areas with limited space, consider a rolling filing system that you can tuck away under counters and in closets.
Gather all your papers in one place and start placing them in categories. Some suggestions include; family documents, such as birth certificates, notes, bills for the home office, bills for the home, receipts, tax documents and so on.
To efficiently organize your files, make sure the ones you use the most are in the front of the rest. This will make them easier to find and your workday more efficient. Each week, either before you begin your day, or on the last day of the work week, go through your files. Anything that has been completed and you no longer need to keep, recycle or shred. Things that should be kept for documentation purposes, try to scan them and back them up to the cloud or a removable storage device, versus keeping piles of paper.
How do you keep your desk and home office from becoming a paper filled nightmare? I would love to hear your tips!