Sunday, February 17, 2013

6 Steps to a Stress-Free Organized Office

Working from a home office can be challenging.  Space can be minimal, making it difficult to find places to work, store files, or place equipment.  Rid yourself of this stress by following the following tips for organizing your office space, no matter how small. 

1.  Declutter.  Get rid of everything you don't need.  This includes old files, equipment you don't use - everything.  If you haven't touched it in a year or more, remove it from your office.  If you think you may possibly need some of the files, put them in a box made specifically for storing paper files and move them into the garage, attic, or some other out-of-the-way place.  Equipment (like the old desktop computer I never use anymore) can be given away or sold. 

2.  Store.  Find places for everything you decided to keep.  Install some sturdy shelves to hold books and office supplies.  Use file trays to organize and prioritize work in progress.  Place materials in a basket that you can place on a shelf when not in use.  Use storage boxes on your shelves to organize files.  You can purchase these in a wide variety of colors, designs, and sizes to bring some color and
personality to your office while still keeping papers under control.    

3.  Save space.  If you don't have a room for your office, don't worry.  A roll top or drop-leaf desk in the living room can give you work space when you need it but be unobtrusive when not in use.  My first office was in my bedroom.  An armoire gave me a place to work and store my supplies, but could be closed up when I wasn't working.  A sturdy shelf in the corner of the laundry room, a file cabinet next to the kitchen counter, roll-away file cabinets that can be placed near the kitchen or dining room table when needed but moved out of the way when necessary can all turn any room in the house into a home office.

4.  Organize your workspace.  Keep items that you use regularly such as pens and pencils where you can easily reach them.  Use old jam jars or glasses, small baskets or tins, or even the old soup cans covered in wallpaper or wrapping paper (remember making those as a kid?) as an inexpensive place to hold pencils, pens, rubber bands, paper clips, or other small supplies.  My husband mounted a pegboard inside one door of my office armoire and corkboard on the other which gave me a place to keep things organized right within reach.

5.  Schedule your workday.  Use a desktop calendar, the organizer on your smartphone, or whatever means works for you.  I borrowed an idea from my daughter that she uses to keep track of her family's busy schedule.  Since my schedule can change quickly, I have a dry-erase calendar in my office that I can erase and update as needed.  Make a daily to-do list to ensure you take care of the most important items each day.  Have your daily or weekly goals posted where you can see them to remind you of what you need to put on your schedule. 

6.  Don't take work home.  I know this sounds impossible when you work from a home office, but I mean it.  First, by keeping everything in its place in your office you will be more organized when you are at work.  Second, part of being organized is finding time for your personal life while running your business.  When the work day is finished, then it is time to close up your office, leave work in its place, and concentrate on family, friends, and yourself.

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