Someone who works in a cubicle or a corporate office can leave his or her mess at work. Yet when your business and personal life are under the same roof, it’s more difficult to keep home office chaos to a minimum. By following a few do’s and avoiding the don’ts, you can keep your home office under control.
Set a schedule
When you work for yourself, it’s important to make every minute count. Each day set a schedule, but make it flexible. If you wait for the right time to work on something, you may never get started. Your schedule may change based on the appointments you’ve scheduled or the tasks you need to complete, so focus on the top five tasks you need to accomplish each day. Otherwise it’s easy to get sidetracked.
Buy the right equipment
You may have an old printer, a separate scanner and even a fax, that take up precious space in your home office. Save space and money by combining each separate piece into an all-in-one machine like the Brother MFC-J5910DW. Even if you don’t use all four functions every day, especially the fax, you’ll have use of all of the features when you need them.
Set home office boundaries
Your desktop or laptop is invaluable to your business. If you have to wait for your kids to finish a game or a homework assignment before you can answer a client’s e-mail, your professionalism will start to nosedive. Even worse, what if someone in your family downloads a game or document with a virus? You could lose the use of your computer for days. Keep your business on track by using a dedicated computer for your business and making sure your family has their own computer for games, homework or anything else they need to take care of.
Make sure you have enough physical and virtual storage
Take a close look at your home office. Are you surrounded by papers, books and supplies? Add bookcases, shelves within a closet and shelves on the wall to store the items you need often or at least nearby. The same is true for documents, photos, videos and anything else you store on your computer. Invest in a reliable external hard drive and use virtual storage to make it easy to access information from any computer.
Buy more supplies than you need
It’s easy to buy too many office supplies, especially the ones that promise to help you get more organized. Instead, too many supplies or the wrong ones can keep you from being organized and can create even more chaos in your home office. Think before you buy and keep in mind that less is more.
Instead of searching through stacks of paper to find what you need, set up a functional filing system. The easiest way to do that is to use hanging folders with manila (interior) folders inside. Use the hanging folders as main categories and the interior folders as subcategories.
Leave yesterday’s mess to deal with today
At the end of the day, clear off your desk and get ready for the next day. It’s not easy to work on a new project when your desk is covered with papers, files and even coffee cups from the day before. At the end of the day, put files away, update your to-do list and check your calendar for the next day’s appointments.
Subscribe to too many magazines
It’s important to stay up to date with the latest developments, technology and other news in your industry. Yet keeping up with every magazine you need to read is next to impossible. Instead of creating stacks of magazines in your home office, switch to online subscriptions instead. Also, create Google Alerts to let you know about any articles or blog posts about your clients and industry.
Working from home has plenty of challenges. Keeping your home office under control doesn’t have to be one of them.