Keeping the home office organised is a very common struggle for many of my readers. One of my clients and I spent a very productive decluttering session, purging, sorting and organising her papers and files. It was so rewarding seeing her achieve peace of mind by knowing where everything is now stored and according to her preferences.
I want to help you to be as productive as you can be in your home office and compiled some top tips for you:
Dedicate a room in your house as your home office. A separate room lets you to close the door and ignore what else is going on in your home. You can totally zoom in on your business activities.
If you don’t have a separate room in your house where you can set up your home office, find a quiet space where you can work without interruptions from your family. Put up a room divider, like a bookshelf or a screen which you can fold away, as needed.
Set up zones
Julie Morgenstern suggests in Organizing from the Inside Out creating zones within your office (and other rooms). Where will you have your work zone? Will you have a zone to receive your customers? Where will you keep your reference material and your stationary supplies? Where do you keep the products you’re selling?
Putting like items together lets you see what’s you have in stock, whether you’ll need to replenish your supplies and what you can toss or give away.
If you’re only working from home occasionally, do you require space for your reference files? If not, you may only need a desk and some storage for the documents and products you’re bringing home.
Now that you know what you need, decide what furniture you’ll need. As beautiful as some of the home offices shown on Pinterest are, you don’t need to rush out and buy storage containers. Organise first!
Regardless of how many hours you’ll be sitting at this desk, invest in a quality chair. Sitting down for too long can have negative effects on your spine and it’s highly recommended to reduce your sitting time to 60% to avoid getting obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Keep items which you’ll use on a regular basis, like note pad and pen, on your desk or within reach for your printer/scanner. If you choose a desk with drawers, store additional items like stapler and phone charger in them. Can it multi function and also store your most frequently used files?
Use the last 10 minutes of your work day to prepare for the next day: Write your action list for the next day. Put paper documents into their respective file. Clear your desk and visible clutter in your home office. Put used cups and glasses in the dishwasher. Empty the rubbish bin. These small activities will help you start the new day with a fresh mind, ready to zoom in, and you don’t have to waste your new energy with clearing clutter.
Before you set up your filing system in your home office, decide how you’ll need to find your papers. Do you work better with alphabetically organized files or by broader categories, e.g. client, taxes and bank account?
If you prefer the broader category, think how you’d find them (e.g. client, taxes, bank account) and then narrow it down. This makes it easier to group like and like together and find all related documents.
For example, you may have name folders “Client: Air Chip” and “Client: Blue Metal”. So much easier to have all your clients visible in one go.
Label each file.
If you work well with colours, you can also use specific colours for specific categories. For example, green folders for financial documents and blue folders for clients. It’s been proven that using colours will save you time (it takes 10 minutes on average to find files).
As you’re putting your documents in their newly found homes, also known as folder or binder, review what needs to be kept. Different documents need to be retained for different periods. Check here to find out more about the relevant retention periods.
Your company may have additional retention requirements. Review those as you’re getting ready to purge documents.
Use a shredder to ensure confidential data cannot be used by an identity theft.
To avoid cramped files, schedule time in your calendar to periodically review the content. It’s easier to have 15 minutes set aside every week than trying to it all once a year. Break down the maintenance period.
The topic of filing emails and electronic files deserves its own post and I’ll write more about them in the upcoming weeks.
For today, tell me how do you ensure you’re focused on work and are not wasting time searching for files, marketing material or freebies? What helps you to stay on track? Share your story by leaving a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!
Until next time,