Organize Your Home Office
Organizing a home office – assuming you even have the space – takes time. Maybe you’re overwhelmed with a pile of paperwork that, at the bottom, dates to 1996.
You possibly have some of the supplies purchased to get organized, but you don’t know where to start.
So you shut the door, take your laptop, and sit in your clean dining room to get your work done. Sound familiar?
Here are 7 simple tips to get you started on your way to a more organized workspace.
1. The first rule of paper is touch it no more than three times. Once when it comes in, once when you act on it, and once when you file or discard.
TIP: When you get your mail each day, stand by a trash can and toss out ALL junk mail before you put the stack down.
You will need 3 files – TO DO; TO READ; TO FILE
Ultimately all paper will end up in one of two places – the TO FILE folder or the trash can.
2. Create a filing system for your paperwork.
Whether you have a spacious office with plenty of cabinets and drawers or use a kitchen counter for your paperwork management, the same basic plan works.
If you are using a portable filing system, I recommend investing in a sturdy product – I’ve learned through trial and error that the cheaper ones fall apart too easily.
For large filing needs, the Vertiflex Smartworx is a good option. If you need less filing space, check out the Safco Onyx Mesh Cart. For table top filing systems, this Design Ideas product works well.
TIP: Buy labels to print on for your files – I use Avery labels #8160. Keep an extra sheet in your desk/nearby to print up labels for new files as needed.
3. Organize your drawers.
This sounds simple, but it’s essential. You need to know what you have so you don’t go out and buy it again.
Go through your supplies (pens, pencils, markers, tape, scissors, etc, etc) and see what’s there, what you need, and what you can give away. No one needs a dozen boxes of staples or 3 dozen dried up highlighters (and they’re in there, you know they are).
By clearing out clutter you are giving yourself room to breathe and start fresh. Get some drawer organizers for your desk – or if you don’t have a desk, you can use a shoebox, a plastic box, anything you like to keep your supplies together.
TIP: Though it may seem like a good idea at the time, buying office supplies in bulk – unless you’re running an actual office – is a waste of time and money. Big box stores seduce us into thinking we need those 4 dozen mechanical pencils – but do we really?
4. Keep it clean.
Dust, fingerprints, crumbs, coffee spills – all of these can make a home office feel dreary and dirty. I adore my air duster and use it all the time.
I also clean my computer screens frequently – it’s amazing how dirty they get. Empty the trash, vacuum, get out the Windex and clean up. You’ll feel so much better!
TIP: Have a coaster on your desk to catch the moisture from bottles, cups, etc.
5. Get a bulletin board.
Think of your bulletin board as your live-action Pinterest account. Some people use bulletin boards for inspiration – I use mine to post mementos, photos, pretty bows from gifts I’ve received, and all of my blogging conference badges. I stare at it when I’m thinking about what to write.
Others use a bulletin board to plan their days, keep track of things to do – it’s more utilitarian. I assure you that once it’s up, you’ll find a way to put it to good use.
6. Use large binders for keeping historical papers in order.
Each of my kids has a large binder that holds significant documents – report cards, awards, etc – along with a school photo for each grade. If you have lots of papers that are sentimental or important, this is a great way to keep them clean and easily found when needed.
Use clear page protectors and simply slip the papers in as they come into your house.
TIP: Large binders and page protectors are also a great way to store warranties and instruction manuals
7. Buy a label maker.
You’ll use it all the time! I slap labels on those binders for my kids, on photo storage boxes, in the garage on large bins…and on and on.