An office at home can be such a pleasure, but it can also be the bane of your existence. In other words, it can be the room you really don’t want to enter or work in.
Why? Because of the clutter!
This is especially true if you are running a business from home or work from home for your job. It’s true even if it is simply for managing the household finances and keeping important papers readily available for when you need them. Regardless of what it’s for, if the office is cluttered and a mess, you won’t want to work there.
So, along with your other spring cleaning, the office may need to have some time and maybe a few dollars spent on it – cleaning, filing and generally organizing things so you can be productive whenever you have actual work to do in there.
The following tips will help to make the reorganization a bit easier and the results a delight to work in.
1. You will need certain items to help you organize, so either find or buy the following:
• an inbox – this is not for permanent storage, so think about what you want to put there and keep the paperwork moving from doing to filing, to waste basket or shredder.
• file rack/box or bulletin board for your current work.
• somewhere to file stuff – filing cabinet, filing box, bookcase, etc. Identify the contents with chalkboard labels which can be wiped clean and re-written on as things change.
• somewhere to keep supplies like paper, empty files folders, etc. – perhaps a second filling cabinet.
• waste basket, shredder or recycling box/bin for when something has reached the end of its life cycle.
2. You might want to think about your new workflow pattern; you’ll need to know what goes where so your reorganization makes life easier for you and not more cumbersome.
• Paperwork comes in for a new project or something else you have to deal with, where will you put it first – the inbox? Remember the inbox is not for permanent storage!
• Where will the paperwork go while you’re working on it – the file rack/box or bulletin board?
• Will it go into your filing system when it’s finished and how long will you keep it? If you have to keep it for a number of years (tax info) where will you put that? If it doesn’t need to be kept for long, will you bin, shred or recycle it? This makes placement of filing cabinets, waste basket, shredder and recycling box important in the general scheme of things.
3. You desk is next. Take a good look at everything on your desk, does it work for you? Is there a reason for the stuff on the desk or did it arrive and it just never left?
If you have the room, take everything off the desk, clean and polish it, vacuum around it, then put everything back but think first, “Do I really need this taking up space on my desk?” If the answer is yes, put it back but consider how often you actually use it. At this point you have to be ruthless, you are reorganizing not just moving things around.
4. Set up your new, better-than-ever filing system. A four drawer filing cabinet is probably the best way to maximize storage space. Make sure the one you buy is sturdy enough not to collapse or fall over. A locking fire-proof cabinet will keep safe all important documents – birth certificates, passports, marriage/divorce certificates, car documents, etc. This could go into one of the filing cabinet drawers, if there’s room.
Set up the system that makes filing easy enough to do daily or weekly. Use hanging folders and label with main categories such as medical, financial, clients records. Then use folders inside those to subdivide your paperwork. Your system can be numerical, alphabetical, coded by colors – whatever suits you. Label all the folders (chalkboard labels work well here too) and file the paperwork currently lying around in your office.
5. Throw away anything that isn’t useable. Get rid of things that don’t work – pens, staplers, old equipment, paperwork that’s out of date, newspapers and magazines. Have a good old purge, you’ll feel so much better for it and so will your office!
There are some things you had better hang onto, for example: tax returns and the paperwork to support your figures, employment documentation (W-2 forms or pay stubs, latest resume, employment contract, etc.), bank and investment statements (hang onto these until the year-end information comes in), credit card statements until you’ve checked them, medical info, etc., etc., etc.
6. Reduce the cable clutter. Look carefully at the way cables run around the room, get rid of any that are for equipment you don’t need or use anymore, look for ways to go wireless and/or consolidate them into a USB hub. Route the cables so they are out of the way, then clamp the remaining ones together with cable ties, velcro wraps, or clips.
7. Organize your desk drawers with the things you use most often. A tray, caddy or small plastic boxes fitted into your drawer can hold paper clips, rubber bands, pens, pencils, stick-on notes, etc. Don’t put any broken or empty things or things you know you won’t use back in the drawer.
The better organized your office is, the more likely you will keep your stuff filed and in order.
There are some things that will distract you though. While you may need a plant on your desk to clean the air around you, you won’t need this furry little creature getting in your way – organized office or not!
Start with this and end up with that!