Chanda (aka Bea) expressed an interest in home office organizing, and I thought others might be interested as well. Also, blogging about it keeps me focused on my own efforts. Opportunistic, ain’t I?
Some of us are fortunate enough to have a dedicated room for a home office. Others are lucky to get a corner of the dining room table. Either situation works, but only if they have the common ingredient of organization.
Being organized and orderly contributes to (or detracts from) my whole lifestyle makeover “package”, and since I seem to have the eating/exercise portion under control, I decided to focus on the “business” of being me. Thus, I’ve been spending a little more time lately trying different systems and arrangements in my home office, looking for the perfect fit. As with the eating/exercise, I’m not proceeding without a plan. I’ve read a million and five articles about organizing over the years, and the gist of them all is what follows:
1) Define the home office space. Is it an unused bedroom that can be totally dedicated to these purposes? Or is it a corner of the guest room? A corner of the dining room table?
2) Define a storage space for files and office supplies. If you don’t have room for a file cabinet, consider something like this, which will fit nicely on a closet shelf, or you can use something else, like a hanging sweater bag, an over-the-door shoe organizer, or under-bed storage box. The goal is to have everything in one place, as opposed to scattered around the house.
3) Create a file system. What it looks like is up to you. Consider how you look for a particular file or piece of paper, then create a file system that works for you. You might choose to color-code folders–one color related to household bills, another for medical info, another for “kid stuff”, and so on. Or you might choose to file things in different drawers, based on category. For a guide on which papers to keep and how long, click here.
This process might take more than one try (take it from someone who knows), but not to worry. If you don’t get it right the first time, you can always reshuffle and try another method. Eventually, you will come up with a system works for you. (Or you could just buy a system.)
4) Shape up your work area. File away papers that aren’t needed. Set aside a place for “in progress” work. “In progress” means today, not next week. If you have work that’s pending, make a file for “pending” and review it periodically.
5) Organize your cables. Life can get very frustrating if you’re tripping over computer cables every time you stand up. Unfortunately, for this one I can give you no tips as I’m still trying to tame this beast. We’ll rely instead on the fine folks at Lifehacker.com for their Top 10 Ways to Get Cables Under Control.
Once you have the system in place, you still have to maintain it (kind of like fitness). At the end of each day, take a moment or five to clear your workspace of completed paperwork and other clutter.
At least a couple of times a year, take a few hours to clear your paper files along with your computer files. Clutter is clutter, whether it’s tactile or digital.
Oh, and one more thing: every home should have one of these. I pray you’ll never need it, but you’ll be oh-so-grateful for it if you do.
And that’s it. A few scattered tips that may help you create and maintain an organized home office. If YOU have any tips, the rest of us would love to hear them.