An organized home office is a key to your success! Whether it’s an entire room or a corner of your kitchen, a home office is more than just an office – it’s the command center of your home and life, and maybe even business. It might be home base for everything from bill paying to party planning to conference calls and more. And whether you’re organizing an existing home office or you’re creating a new home office space, this is the perfect time to make sure you set your home office space up for success. Let’s talk about a few keys to success when creating an organized home office.
First, you need to define and dedicate some space for your office. This may be dictated by what space you have available. It could be small, such as hallway desk and a mobile filing cart, or you might have a whole room to work with. Think about the flow through your home to your home office. If you have the option of choosing a location, pick a space that makes it easy for you to drop off mail and paperwork as you come into your home. If your office space is far from your entry door, then set up a basket or bin as a catch-all for mail and things that need to go in the office near the door. No matter how much space you have, dedicating some specifically to office-related supplies and tasks will me your life easier. It’s a lot of work to mail a bill when the envelopes are in the kitchen and the stamps are upstairs in a drawer! Go through the house and collect anything office-related to keep in your office space.
Make a List
Next, take a few minutes to list out what functions your home office needs to support. This could include bill-paying, gift-wrapping, meetings, etc. Knowing what you are trying to accomplish in your office will help you determine what furniture and supplies you need. You might need a small desk for a laptop, or a big table for collating. You might need a visitor chair, or a sofa to nap on. 😊 Of course, supplies are needed too. Think supplies for opening and processing mail and school papers, paying bills, printing, making new files, and anything else you need to routinely do in your home office.
Kick Start with a Quick Sort
If you’re tackling a big paper mess, such as piles all over your desk, it can help to kick-start your process with a quick sort. First, gather all your surface paperwork into a box (or boxes). Then do a quick sort by looking at each paper briefly and sorting it into 1 of 3 categories – To Do, To File, or To Toss. Your Toss pile might be a mix of things that can be recycled and things that should be shredded. Once you have “tossed” your Toss pile, you’ll just be left with 2 piles – papers you want to keep but that don’t need immediate action, and those that require some sort of action. This quick sort strategy allows you to start taking action on top priority paperwork as you work on setting up an improved filing system without worrying that pressing action items are buried in a pile somewhere.
Set up Simple Systems
After you’ve calmed that chaos, it’s time to set up simple systems for incoming paper, projects and more. Do what works for you and your family, and don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be! Keep it simple and only keep the supplies and papers that you really need. Use containers and trays to store office supplies by category. There are so many cute office organizing containers and supplies out there, be careful not to get carried away and buy too many – this will only create more clutter! Create a simple, alphabetical file system for papers. If you have kids, give them each a file box or drawer for their artwork, school papers, etc. This way you can easily drop things in as the school year progresses.
Stay on Top of Incoming Paperwork
Last but not least, it can help to start practicing a simple paper processing system for incoming paperwork as you work to weed through older files and set up your new system. This might look like:
- Taking time to go through mail and incoming paperwork every day
- Immediately tossing trash and recycling
- Taking action right away on quick “one-minute” items
- Organizing follow up items with a set of action files
- Scheduling regular time to take action on those items – be sure to put this on your calendar and practice, practice, practice until it becomes habit.
Follow these guidelines and you’ll have an organized home office space where you can focus and get stuff done.
To share her expertise and help fellow entrepreneurs, Sarah founded Organizing U. Organizing U is an online training platform focused on business development, to help Professional Organizers and small business owners achieve their dreams of success.