How to Organize Your Home Office
Remember when you had a job where organization was mandatory (or at least clutter was frowned upon)? Since anyone and everyone walking by your cubicle had a prize view of the status of desk, you made an effort to keep it neat and presentable. And as a result you enjoyed a certain amount of satisfaction at being able to find whatever you needed in a timely manner. But now that you’re working out of your home office, your inner Tasmanian devil has apparently taken over your motor functions and slung every moveable item from here to Timbuktu (or maybe it was your two little rug rats…don’t you wish you could blame it on them?). In any case, the stapler is in the wastebasket, the keyboard is in the drawer, you could swear you hear the phone ringing somewhere in the area of the bookshelf, and every available surface is hidden under a heavy layer of miscellaneous papers (you don’t even know where your favorite coffee cup is, but you have no doubt that it has become host to some new and interesting form of microbial life by now). You need help getting organized, and there are a number of ways to do it.
1. Trash the trash. Nothing will clutter up your space faster than a bunch of outdated memos and random junk that shows up in your fax machine. Oh, were you saving that for scrap paper? While your attempt at eco-friendliness is noteworthy, perhaps you could set aside a drawer in your desk to house these otherwise useless items until such time as you might require them.
2. Get an inbox. There is no better way to organize your current workload than by using the tried and true inbox (yes, a physical paper receptacle, not the one for your email). The size will depend entirely upon the scope of your business, but two bins is the absolute minimum (one for pending jobs, the other for completed). In all honesty, you should plan for more even if you don’t think you need them now.
3. Filing is for old folks. Forget about saving every piece of paper that finds its way into your hands. Filing cabinets are bulky and fairly unnecessary nowadays. Get yourself a scanner and start saving everything in much more manageable file format. You’re office will stay cleaner and if the tax man comes sniffing around asking for invoices, you can show him with a click of your mouse rather than digging through mounds of receipts. If you’re worried about losing files, simply back them up on a regular basis to discs or an external hard drive.
4. A place for everything and so on. It’s only slightly old-fashioned to install shelving and labeled bins in your office, so go ahead and get crafty with the Sharpies. You can store your stapler and any other office essentials within easy reach and never have to wonder again how your snappy red Swingline ended up in the trash. As a bonus, you may find that once your space is clean, you have additional room to store your kids’ craft items (construction paper, markers, etc.) as well.
5. Get with the program. You no doubt keep a calendar, so schedule in one day a month to keep your space in order. Catch up on filing and shredding, update your spreadsheets, prepare for quarterly taxes, and clean out the dust-bunnies that have gathered under your keyboard. Staying on top of organization is the key to running a successful home business, so stick to the program for guaranteed results.
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