6 Ways to Organize Your At-Home Office
Many people think that if you work at home and have a home office, you are very fortunate. Well, generally, you are. However, they do not realize that working at home is just like working in a business office, except that now you also have personal and other distractions. At the end of the day you can walk away from your cluttered desk in a business office, but most of us who work at home can’t leave the mess behind closed doors as easily. A cluttered work space can drastically reduce your productivity and can make it difficult to begin on a new project without distractions.
Below are ways to organize your-at home office area for success.
1. It is a necessity to structure your at-home office in a way that sets it apart from your home life
This includes making sure that while you are working, personal distractions will be kept at a bare minimum. Interruptions can interfere with your work so your desk and work area needs to stay clear of personal business, such as writing personal checks, checking your children’s homework or any other type of personal activities. It should be used solely for your business activities. If you are working while at home with the kids, this can cause be a bit more of a challenge because work and family become quite intermingled in this type of environment. Just like any traditional office job, there will be times when life interferes, but if you have personal business that can afford to wait until your work is finished you will be able to remain more focused.
2. Act like you’re going to the office, not just walking down the stairs
Wake up, take a shower, get dressed, and go to work. You’d do this if you were going to the office, and it should be the exact same if the office is in your home. You must resist the temptation to walk downstairs in your underwear and slippers, sit down and start the day. If you do this, nights and days will start to blend together and next thing you know you’re working all the time. When you’re done, go upstairs, change back into some comfy clothes and enjoy you’re evening. Having clear delineations between work and leisure will go a long way towards helping you achieve work/life balance.
3. Have a filing system that you can comfortably access
While it seems with the overabundance of electronic filing systems and saving to hard drives, the need for actual paper print is becoming obsolete, but if you still have any actual tangible business documents or miscellaneous paper work, it is important to file these neatly. Buy some labels and carefully organize your documents. Some may choose to do this alphabetically, others by date or by project. Reading a book (David Allen’s ‘Getting Things Done’ is a great book on this subject) or taking a course on time management will go a long way towards helping you achieve this. Find the system that works best for you and embrace it!
4. Keep business material accessible
Office supplies like pens, pencils, paper, envelopes and anything else for the day-to-day operation of your business should be kept in neat and easily accessible area so that you are not scrambling to find a pen and paper just to take down a new client’s contact information. There are a variety of office supply organizers that can fit into your work space no matter how big or small. If you are on a budget, simply use items from around the house like coffee cans or plastic cups as pen and pencil holders. The best part is that it is truly your own personal office and you can use whatever works for you, no need to impress!
5. Have Set Business Hours
Just like any job, it’s best to set actual “work hours” aside in your day so that you are held accountable during that time to get work done. It’s easy to procrastinate when you have no goals set in place for the day. Also, do not let people go into your at-home business area after work hours. This is where you earn your money. It should be treated as the most valuable place in your home and should once again remain as detached from your personal life as possible.
6. Treat your at home office as your pride and joy
It is a place you developed for your own special work talents. It allows you to be who you are and to accomplish what you want too, so let your personality shine in your space. If you find certain paintings, photos, or decorations to be particularly comforting or relaxing, decorate your space accordingly. Light candles, play music or whatever gets you in the mindset to get to work.
Working at home has wonderful benefits. You do not have to commute or dress up every day. You are at home and in a comfortable setting near your family. Even though this is a relaxed environment, being self motivated in your work and having a desire to keep your at-home office organized, will help you succeed.