The home office is one of the most important places in your home. It’s where your finances are managed, decisions are made and information is stored. If it’s chaotic and disorganized it might mean your finances and important family matters are also disorganized. And if you’re running a business out of your home office then it is crucial for it to be an organized and efficient space.
#1 Identify the purpose. A home office must suit its primary purpose. For example, if a home office is where a business is run then the office should be set up to support that purpose. If it’s instead set up to support family organization then it’s not doing the job.
#2 Use a tier system for organization. Keep all items you use on a daily basis close at hand. Lesser used items can be stored within reach. Items that are only used quarterly or less can be housed in boxes and out of site. An example might be last year’s taxes. Sure, you’ll need to look at them next year but they don’t need to be cluttering your daily work space.
#3 Find a place for everything – and put it there. Sounds simple, right? It should be but for most people it isn’t. That’s because the system they’ve created isn’t working for them. Take the in/out box for example.
In theory the in/out box makes sense but an inbox can become overwhelmingly full quickly. Then it just becomes a disorganized pile of papers. Unless someone is in the habit of cleaning out their inbox on a daily basis this system won’t work well for them.
Think about your personality and habits. Don’t try to make significant changes in your habits, find ways to work with them. If you only access your inbox once a month then create several inboxes. One for receipts, one for bills, one for miscellaneous information and so on.
#4 Group electronics. Cords are one of the most frustrating and often unsightly aspects of a home office – phone cords, charging stations, printer cords, computer cords, speaker wires the list goes on and on. When you keep your electronics in a single location you can mitigate the cord clutter. And it makes it easier to use cord hiding solutions.
#5 Label properly. Labels are a great way to keep things organized and easy to find. However, if you use a label you want to make sure they give you the full information. For example, a file labelled “taxes” isn’t enough information. Taxes from last year? Five years ago? Ten years ago? Add pertinent information and create a tiered system for your files. For example, create a mail file labelled “taxes” and then separate files for each year. You should be able to find any information in your file cabinet or on your computer in less than thirty seconds.
Organizing your home office isn’t a matter of forcing change. Embrace your personality and habits. Be realistic about what you will and won’t do and then create systems to support that.