Home offices are very common today, especially as many people continue to work from home. McKinsey reports that 35% of the workforce can still work from home, accounting for as many as 55 million people. If you’re one of those people and need to have more organization to stay productive, these tips will help you.
Keep in mind that even if you don’t use a home office for work, this space can be used for many things, including providing a place to manage your finances, computer use, or even the location where you write your first book. The key here is organization matters. It doesn’t have to be difficult. Here’s how to get started.
#1: Get It All Cleaned Out
If you have the space, remove everything from your office. If it’s trash, toss it out. Remove all the furniture, files, and extra clothing you’ve stored here for years. When you get everything out of the office, you get a fresh start to work with going forward. Clean the carpeting, walls, and baseboards.
Then, start working on creating a plan for this space.
To properly plan, Teresa Fata recommends that you ask yourself the following questions.
- What types of materials need to be in your home office?
- Which types of available storage could contain those items? This could include drawers, shelving, bookcases, or others.
- What layout gives you the best light and overall comfort in this space based on how you plan to use it?
- What type of equipment will be within this space? What type of storage does that equipment need?
- Do you plan to add any other functions to this space?
With this information, you can begin to create a space that works for your needs. Organize it in a way that’s efficient, for example, keeping your printer close to your desk if you need to print a lot of material.
#2: Tackle the Paperwork Logically
Often, the biggest clutter in a home office is the papers and files you have. This could be your canceled checks from 10 years ago or the files you need for your clients. The key here is to create a pile for each type of paper in this space based on what makes it important. Toss out anything that’s too old or no longer beneficial.
Then, organize all of those stacks of paperwork by date, with the oldest being at the back of the pile. Should these items just be stored and out of reach? If so, use a box or a file storage cabinet to keep them tucked away. Consider putting these no longer needed pieces into a closet where it’s out of the way.
If items need to be used daily or often, keep those more accessible, such as in an accordion file on a bookshelf. It’s a good idea to go through these papers every quarter to move items away that you no longer need.
#3: Keep Your Computer Desktop Clear
How much stuff is sitting on your desktop? Each item – from papers to tissue boxes is a distraction for you during your workday. Aim to keep the surface clean (not just free from clutter, but also clean, as in not smudged with marker). This helps to focus your mind while also helping you to stay organized.
If you use a lot of materials during the day, choose bookshelves, cabinets, or drawers to help you organize those items. You also want to be sure you’re keeping those surfaces – drawers and shelves- organized. This helps to contribute to your efficiency throughout the day. You know where everything is when you need it.
Everything else on your desk, such as your computer and phone, should be within reach of your arms without much effort. That way, you’re maximizing efficiency and productivity all day long.
#4: Keep the Floor Clear
Work hard at this task for safety reasons and because it will help you be more efficient. Don’t stack items on the floor. Instead, find a home for them. That way, you can easily move around the space throughout the day as you need to do so. That also means wrapping up cords and keeping items well organized otherwise.
If you plan to use a rug in this space, be sure it is one that still allows you to move your chair with ease. You also don’t want to be super comfortable in this room. A cozy sweater and fluffy carpeting create too much of a comfort level that could make it hard for you to focus.
#5: Add in the Light
One of the most important parts of any home office is lighting. With enough light, you can see well and work in your space efficiently. Keep the light in this space bright enough, so you don’t strain. Then, be sure to focus heavily on various types of lights based on the work surface.
A good overhead light is a solid starting point. Consider one with a fan if the area gets stuffing. Add a desk lamp to help brighten up the work surface.
Each one of these steps can help you organize your office space to make it more functional, efficient, and functional for you.