Focus is a large part of productivity. Especially in the case of a home office it can be difficult to draw the line between a lounging day at home and a hard day at the office. One way you can help keep yourself on track and focused while working at home is to organize your home office.
A clean and tidy work space can make all the difference when it comes to what you are able to accomplish in a day. Imagine if all of your supplies were in the right spot when you reach for them, no wasted time searching for your things. If all of your paperwork is organized and separated you don’t have to spend time sifting through the house bills in order to find your business paperwork! Hopefully these tips will help you get your home office organized and ready for a productive year.
Separation is Key
If you use your home office for both household and business needs you need to get everything separated. Create two simple filing systems to keep all of the bills and paperwork organized. A great way to keep paperwork organized and accessible is with pocket or file folders. You can color code them so you know which belongs where and they will make filing a breeze.
If you have the space it can be beneficial to have two desks. Come time for taxes you’ll have an easier time claiming business use over the space if you have a complete separation of household and business!
Do Not Wait
When you open the mail do one of three things: toss it, pay it, or file it. If it is a junk magazine that you probably will never have two seconds to flip through – just toss it. This can play a huge role in keeping you organized and decluttered. If you have bills that come in the mail but are auto deducted make a note and then file them. Filing things can seem annoying at first but in the long run it will save you time and energy. If you use this system you don’t have to spend one day every few weeks slowly sorting through mountains of paperwork. Keep what is important in its specified file, toss the rest right now.
Finish the Old Ones
This can be difficult for even the most organized person because buying new pens, colorful tape, and fancy file clips seems like a fun addition to the office space. You only have to organize what is already in your office, the things you need have to be accessible and tidy. If you are constantly buying new office supplies make sure you are throwing away or donating the previous versions. Even the most adorable pencil cup can only accommodate a fixed number of writing utensils. A fun idea to try: challenge yourself to use up the supplies you have now before buying any new ones. Once the old ones are empty you’ll have a little treat in being able to buy new items for the office.
This is a big one for me. Try and find functional storage options. Bookshelves for books and supplies, benches with hidden storage compartments, and filing cabinets can all help keep your home office organized. Cube organizers are also a great option if you have lots of different kinds of items you need to keep close by for easy access. Essentially you are looking for any kind of storage that will keep your necessary items out of sight but easily accessible. This tip pairs nicely with storage: put things back in their hiding place as soon as you’re done with them. We all ask our children to put their toys away before getting out a new one; the same can be applied to home office organization.
If you have a dedicated office space in your home make sure that your family knows it is off limits. We struggled with this idea for quite a while but once everyone started following the rules it really made a difference. The office should be for work. It’s that simple. If you want to get serious about keeping your home office organized you can’t have a pile of other people stopping by five times a day dropping their half-eaten sandwiches, magazines, gym bags, and whatever else on your desk and storage areas. This will also help with the “did you happen to pick this up or walk off with or throw away my bills, checkbook, manuscript, to do list, contract, etc.” conversation.
Home office organization can be an ongoing struggle. If you find yourself consistently fighting to get your space under control consider taking one day to tackle the space and start fresh. You may not want to give up a precious Saturday but spending one full day cleaning out and starting over can give you the push you need to stay organized once you’re finished.