Organizing a Home Office

Is organizing your home office space high on your Resolutions List for this year? Yes, I know that we are well into July, but it is even more imperative that you stop procrastinating (or lounging pool-side) and get the job done now before it’s time to make next Year’s Resolutions.
Organizing a home office isn’t as daunting when you have the tools and know-how to overcome your clutter.
Did you know that 50% of all households have at least one member of the family that works from home or has a home office space?  and that being productive is a direct result of being organized?  and being organized can lead you to more money? So…what are you waiting for?
The first step in being organized is to CLEAR CLUTTER….clutter is the bane of all work from homer’s.  It is insidious in nature really…one minute it isn’t there, and then overnight (or two or three or twenty-seven) you can’t find your computer mouse one morning and you blame the cat.
What makes up clutter?  Endless little pieces of paper, ‘notes’ to ourselves about whatever it is we need to do and when, files heaped upon one another looking like a ready made diving board into your cuppa joe for your pet guinea pig.  Bills that have been paid as well as ones waiting for your bank account to deem them worthy enough to be paid….all this paper truly gets in the way of productivity.  Not to mention all the little things that you use in a home office.. i.e. staplers, staples, paperclips, pens, pencils, markers, scissors, stickynotes, etc… all stuffed in random locations or laying around waiting for their time in the limelight.
So to clear all this clutter, you need to answer a few questions….
What do I need to keep?
What can I keep it in?
How can I keep clutter from taking over after a clean sweep? 
Start off first with sorting all your writing instruments, stapler, staples, etc., and invest in some trays and holders from your local office supply store and designate a space/holder for all these items. 
Next, clean out ALL the desk drawers, start from scratch, vacuum the dust bunnies out of them and wash them down, now place all the holders you just purchased for your desk implements in and organize them by drawer as to how often you use them (for pens/pencils. etc, you may want to keep a cup holder on your desk, but they can equally be kept in a drawer, out of sight), top drawer gets the frequently used items and so forth.
Files and Paper ~ Do you really need to keep all that paper? In this day and age of technology, almost everyone has a printer/scanner/copier, if not, invest in one, the prices of these machines are very affordable and also an expense item on your tax sheet :).  Now scan and store the documents that are a MUST-HAVE on your computer’s hard drive (remember to have a back-up location set in place, talk with a computer techie to get a back-up system up and running to avoid data loss), then SHRED the hard copies.  Shredding hard copies will make an immediate difference in the space you have.
If you MUST keep hard copies, utilize colour-coded file folders and have a place OUTSIDE of your home office space to store them (invest in Banker’s Boxes, as they make great storage boxes for files and can be kept in your basement / crawlspace with easy access).  Colour code files by category, such as green for financial, blue for personal, red for utilities, etc., keep the most recent files (12 months and under) in a file cabinet in your office, anything older is relegated to the Banker’s Boxes in the basement.  If you do not have a file cabinet, invest in one, they will be easier to find than combing through mountains of them stacked on your desk.
Mailings & Labellers ~ If you are in sales and tend to do a lot of mailings, invest in a label printer that allows you to save all your contacts, then you can just set it to print and away you go.  Have a specific drawer just to hold all your envelopes, labels, stamps.
Electronic Appointment Organizer ~ If you are still in the dark ages of the 80’s and do not own a Blackberry/Android/iPhone or Email Program, it is time to drag yourself at least into the early 2000’s.  You do not need the calendar on the wall with a million sticky notes stuck to it and your computer screen.  Organize all your appointments in an electronic calendar.  Synchronize these with other family members who are sure to have the same devices (especially the younger family members who have saved their paper route money to buy the latest/greatest gadget) so everyone is on the same page about daily life and to also keep your work appointments organized.  My Blackberry is worth it’s teeny weight in gold to me, I set reminders on to-do’s and have all my appts logged in it as well as my full business contact list (just make sure you back up your PDA regularly to avoid losing valuable data).
Computer CD’s, etc. ~ I don’t know about you, but I seem to have one very full desk drawer designated to hold all the computer programs that have been purchased over the years…. I mean some of these pre-date Windows 95!  Sit and go through them all and keep only the most relevant ones and toss the remainder into the garbage.  Then grab an empty shoe box, label and store all these CD’s in with your file boxes in the basement….and voila! an extra drawer just became available to hide your chocolate stash!
Books/Shelving ~ if you have a book-case or closet, invest in wicker bins/decorative baskets to hold bulkier items and sort through all the books and banish the ones you no longer need/want to a re-use centre.  You don’t need to keep every single Nancy Drew / Hardy Boys novel you ever read from your youth taking up valuable shelf space.  Keep only what is relevant to your business life at this point in time.
Decor ~ lastly, home offices need not be sterile and boring.  Paint the room a colour that suits your personality, if you like purple – go purple!  If you are more of a beige person, then add splashes of colour by selecting bright window treatments or chair cushions for some added zing.  Having a pleasant space to work in also makes you more productive!
Once you have pared down, tossed, recycled and organized your home office space, keeping it that way is simple.  Be diligent in taking 5 to 10 minutes at the end of every day to sort, store or shred items so that when you ‘leave the office’ at the end of the day, it looks exactly how you found it in the morning.
So I ask you again… what are waiting for?!  Get yourself moving to a more organized and productive YOU….then you can go back to sipping a margarita pool-side and enjoy the rest of the summer season.

One thought on “Organizing a Home Office

  1. LOL, I remember reading similar tips before and I must say I followed through. I had the family computer in the living room when the boys were younger to keep tabs on what they were viewing. With all the phone technology, they rarely use the family computer so the desk and all the debris has been moved into a REAL office for ME. I LOVE it. I admit that the calendar still hangs in the kitchen for everyone to write their schedules, work hours, and high light other important dates.
    My sticky notes are used more selectively and the colour coded files and folders are a life saver for me. My accounts payable/receivable were in a terrible mess prior to coloured folders. After organizing MY space, I will now enter the area and get my paper work done quicker and more efficiently=more chatting time on the net:). It was a terrible feeling to drag my feet into do paper work because I had to fight the guinea pig diving board to find my pen…..great ideas Deb!
    The boys also introduced me to memory sticks…..OMG those things are amazing. I often had a hard time burning discs-not sure what my problem was- but these sticks are the bomb. Most everything has been transferred to colour coded sticks and can easily be viewed on the main computer, laptop or even the pics from our vacation were enjoyed on the TV as a slide show.

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