5 Tips to Organize Your Home Office
by Kirsten M. Lagatree, author of Feng Shui at Work
Whether you work at a corner of the dining room table, in the spare
bedroom or in your own private office, staying organized can pose
one of your biggest challenges as an entrepreneur. Many of us let
filing and organizing go during busy times and think we'll deal
with everything when we "have time." But beware of the
clutter trap; it can truly take on a life of its own. A messy desk
and chaotic filing system siphons off your time, energy, focus and
productivity. Here are some tips for getting organized and staying
that way in your home office.
- Attack That Pile of "Stuff"
If you're starting out with an intimidating pile of stuff
on and around your desk, don't despair. Take a deep breath and
devote a small amount of time -- half an hour -- daily to sifting
through it. This makes the job more manageable, and if you stick
to the discipline of doing a little each day, you WILL reach the
end of the stack.
- Throw Out Those Old Papers
As you go through your stacks of paper, piles of files, mountains
of magazines and so forth, ask yourself: Do I need this? Why?
What happens to it next? Where will I look for it when I want
it? (Not where should I put it). No filing system is good if you
can't remember where you put things.
If you tend to save papers because you aren't sure whether or
not you'll need them again, create a two-step trash system. I
use a large wastebasket to toss anything I think I'm through with
but not totally sure about. I keep another, smaller container
for papers and other items that I'm sure are "trash."
Empty your large basket only every few weeks; that way, you can
retrieve anything you decide you shouldn't part with. Don't forget
to put banana peels and other pungent disposables into the container
that gets emptied frequently.
- Keep Often-Used Items at Close Range
Items you use daily belong on your desk. Your computer, pens,
calendar, message pad and anything else that's part of your daily
routine can stay. Other items such as Scotch tape, stapler, calculator,
writing paper and so on should be stored in your desk drawer --
handy to get at, but not in the way when you don't need them.
- Don't Store Supplies in Your Desk
Fax and computer paper, extra pens, file folders and the like
can be put in a cabinet across the room. I have a shelf over my
desk for reference books I reach for frequently. They're always
at hand but never in the way.
- Don't Mix Business and Pleasure
Don't keep household paperwork such as bills, catalogs, vacation
brochures and other personal items where they can distract you.
Blending business and personal work at your desk is usually distracting
rather than efficient.
Once you've worked your way through these tips, you will have a
work space that makes you look forward to getting down to business
every day. Good luck!