The biggest advantage of working from home is the lack of stress which tends to build up over a period of time thanks to commuting, inflexible and long working hours, the suffocating atmosphere of a cubicle, etc. But it can become even more stressful if you don’t manage to balance your professional and personal life accordingly.
The success of every at-home business mostly lies in time management, and organization is at the heart of it. Working from home actually requires extra attention being paid to organization, since your small home office is what you make it. Although it’s inevitably a part of your living space, this doesn’t mean that a productive and professional working environment is out of reach. The tips ahead will help you to create a home office that is organized, efficient, and pleasant to work in.
Make Sure the Location Is Right
You’ll never be able to keep your home office organized if you don’t find the place in your home that will serve solely for this purpose. Many make the mistake of thinking there’s plenty of space to borrow – the kid’s desk while they’re at school or a kitchen table between meals. But having to remove yourself every time those locations serve their primary purpose is anything but productive. As a starting point, you need your own desk that will be used strictly for work tasks and you need to find a spot for it that’s unaffected by sources of interference such as pedestrian traffic or noise. In other words, if your home office is not permanent, you’ll never be able to achieve a successfully implemented working environment.
Don’t Go Overboard with Gadgets
It may be tempting to do this. After all, technology makes our lives easier, but it can also make your home office look like a battlefield. Just think of all the cables trapping your feet and tangling up over time. It’s true you can organize them with various holders, but even they become powerless if your desk is overflowing with stuff.
Everything except the monitor, mouse, and keyboard should be kept off the desk. Your printer and printer supplies should have its own designated space – a small cabinet with shelves would be perfect. Now, you’ll probably ask what about your fax machine? What if you’re in need of a copy machine, too? That’s quite a lot of small cabinets. But the truth is that you don’t need all that stuff since there are multi-function printers capable of all that.
This takes care of the cable mess under your desk, and going wireless will eliminate the cord clutter around it. Wireless mice and keyboards don’t just free up your space, but also your movements. If there’s no other clutter, that is. So, let’s move on.
When it comes to home offices, the paper is the king of clutter. It piles up incredibly fast so you need to get it in control before it completely takes over your space. There’s no other way than going through every piece of paper so you can see which ones you need to file, which ones require immediate action, and which ones you can toss or shred. Pay special attention to your business records and how long you need to keep them.
Once you go through this excruciating task it’s important to create a color-coded filing system so you wouldn’t have to go through it again. All the papers you file are divided into certain categories – insurance, medical, personal, financial, etc. If each of them has a designated color there won’t be any strays you’ll have to sort out later.
Now all that’s left is to maintain the control over the paper coming in, and the great portion of that is mail. The solution lies in a mail station – simply make separate folders for every family member, incoming and outgoing mail, bills, and mail to file. It’s important to file all the letters and correspondences as soon as they arrive, then take a few minutes to go through each folder once a week.
There are three steps for putting your remaining office supplies in order. First of all, you need to put them out of sight. That means you need bins, baskets, drawers, and containers. If you think there’s not enough room, make sure you’ve utilized the wall space. With shelving and hanging filing systems, going vertical can provide you with a lot of extra space – something you can never have enough of, really.
But you haven’t achieved anything if you need to look for those supplies later, so the second step is to label everything – boxes, drawers, files, etc. Getting a label maker is one of the smartest investments you can make, by categorising and labeling everything you’ll be maximising your efficiency whilst reducing unnecessary stress or confusion.
Now that everything is labeled and there’s enough space for storage, the remaining step is to organize everything into categories so you can place similar items together. This will do wonders for the functionality of your office since you won’t be searching for the stamps outside your mail drawer.
It might seem trivial, but a properly set up home office can make a significant impact on your business and efficiency. It is our hope that the above-listed tips will not only help you to reach a perfect level of organization in your home office, but crucially, also to maintain it. This maintenance doesn’t happen on its own and you should perform a small tidy up at the end of each day. Once you’ve established a routine, it takes only five minutes per day to keep your workplace productive and neat.