HOME OFFICE ORGANIZATION TIPS
By Laurie Hurley
Working at home is great, but has some definite drawbacks if you are not organized. Here are some handy tips to keeping the office neat, clean, and uncluttered.
1) KEEP THE OFFICE, THE OFFICE!
As tempting as it may be to bring non-work related materials into your office, don’t! Have a separate place for mail and paperwork that is not related to your job in a separate area of your home, away from your office. This approach helps to keep your personal life and all its paraphernalia isolated in a different location.
2) DON’T OVER FURNISH THE OFFICE
Most home-based businesses need the obvious – a desk and chair, telephone, filing cabinet, computer, printer, bookshelf, and maybe an extra chair for visitors (if you have them in your office for business meetings). The bare minimum, tastefully furnished is sufficient. Too many plants, extra knick-knacks, excessive art work, etc. only takes up valuable space. Utilize your space efficiently and you will be less apt to lose paperwork or misplace an important document. There will only be one or two places to look!
3) IF POSSIBLE, LOCK YOUR OFFICE WHEN YOU ARE NOT THERE
This is especially important if you have children or if your office is in a high-traffic area of your home (not recommended!). It is too tempting for others to walk into your private sanctuary when you are not there and plop down at your desk, “borrow” a pen or paper or use the computer. Before you know it, things get shifted around or your neat desk has an open soda can on it that you did not leave there. If you can’t lock the door, or don’t even have a door to your office, there should be strict rules in the house as to who has your permission to enter when you are not present – and they should be enforced!
4) EMPTY YOUR GARBAGE CAN NIGHTLY
This might sound like a lot of work, but it helps to maintain the cleanliness of your office. Have a wastepaper basket and a recycle box. If you have a shredder, even better. Shred and dispose of everything nightly. Take your small recycle box to the bigger recycle area in your home. If you print a lot of documents for your use only, recycle the paper and use that in your printer. It cuts down on paper costs.
5) END THE DAY WITH A CLEAN DESK
There is nothing worse than coming into your office at the beginning of your work day and facing a messy, disorganized desk. Schedule time every night to put everything away. Do not make exceptions to this rule because before you know it, you will have four days of unkempt papers lining your desktop and things WILL get lost or misplaced, just when you need them the most. Schedule clean up time on your daily calendar or to do list. This is one item that shouldn’t be postponed.
6) MAINTAIN APPROPRIATE ACCESSIBLE FILES
There will always be items you don’t get to finish at the end of your work day. Keep file trays on or near your desk labeled in the following way: (a)To Do Tomorrow, (b) Completed & Need To Be Filed, (c) High Priority – Do First Thing Today. Have one file tray for items that come up during the day that can be put in the (d) Future File that have a date on them. Some people call it a tickler file, but it is important to prioritize what needs your attention and when. Many items are probably stored on your PC, but most every business has paperwork associated with it and the visual filing system is a good one. Sticking things in drawers that you might not open because they are not right in front of you can spell disaster for any business.
Laurie Hurley is an entrepreneur and has worked out of her home for eight years. She runs a tutor referral service in Southern California. She also is President and Founder of Home Tutoring Business, her company that sells complete business packages to individuals who want to learn how to begin a tutor referral service in their community. She generates volumes of paperwork daily, but she goes to bed every night with a clean desk, and she doesn’t have a door to her office!