I work from home and if you work from home, you know how hard it can be to stay productive, focused, and organized. It’s challenging to keep a work/life balance when your house is both your sanctuary and your place of employment. Incorporating a few simple hacks will make the juggling act a little easier. Along with your usual spring cleaning rituals this year, take the advice of Laura Stack, The Productivity Pro, to spend less time dealing with messes in the office and more time doing what you love. Here are 5 easy tips for home office organization.
1. Minimize paper clutter. Stick to this 4-part rule: File it, recycle it, shred it or take care of it. File important documents immediately so you know where they are. Recycle any paper you don’t need to keep, but also doesn’t contain any sensitive information. Shred documents that do using a cross-cut shredder like Fellowes’ 12Cs, which shreds up to 12 sheets of paper and has SafeSense technology. (That’s especially important for homes with kids and pets.) Lastly, take care of any paper clutter that doesn’t fall into the first three categories. Nothing makes an office look messier than stacks of paper!
2. Label in a way that makes sense. Label decorative file folders clearly by using appropriate headings. Don’t be generic. You may already have a folder labeled “taxes,” but which year are you referring to? Is this a folder for receipts in preparation for next year’s tax time? The more specific you are, the easier it will be to find what you are looking for. (Fun tip: Use attractive office supplies to brighten your workspace and make it more inviting.) When organizing electronic files, be sure to include the date, name, and version numbers. Use subfolders to break up big categories into smaller ones.
3. Create routines. Don’t waste time thinking about how to manage small tasks. Make it a habit to stay organized faster with a series of rituals you perform every time you go to work. Perhaps you’ll handle paper clutter right off the bat, and make a list of things to do, in order of priority, as the last thing before you sign off for the day. Whatever seems to pile up and become overwhelming should be nipped in the bud.
4. Set a time limit for projects you dread. We all have tasks we hate to do, but can’t avoid. Get these pain-in-the-butt jobs out of the way, but don’t spend all day on them. Often, they become a distraction from more important priorities. Estimate how long you think any given task will take and set a timer for that length of time. Time moves fast when you’re focused so aim to work for at least a solid 45 minutes. Mark your calendar in advance and don’t talk yourself out of doing it.
5. You’re only as good as your tools. This doesn’t mean you need the most expensive products on the market. It means you need to get honest about what will get the job done most efficiently. Is your computer slower than a snail? Would it be wise to invest in a semi-professional camera in lieu of spending money on a stock image subscription? Every home office needs a filing cabinet, that’s for sure! Likewise, you might be able to clean out, get rid of, or sell unnecessary items that are just taking up space. Take stock of your supplies and outfit your office with what you need to stay productive.
You can get your own Fellowes' 12Cs Shredder at your local Walmart.