I remember my first home office. It was in the corner of a guest bedroom. My desk was a card-table, and I used cardboard boxes for filing. A bookcase I found at an estate sale worked well for additional storage. No ergonomically correct chair for my desk — a folding chair worked just fine.
There is nothing wrong with holding down costs when you first launch your home-based business. But in order to build success, you need a professional workspace that is well organized. Being organized saves you time and money. Yet, because most home-based businesses have little if any foot traffic, they are often a hodgepodge of make-do items over-flowing with clutter. When you spend time searching for a document or looking for your phone charger you “just had,” it affects your productivity and impacts your bottom line.
In honor of “National Organize Your Home Office Day” on March 11, here are a few tips to help you get organized in your home office — and stay that way.
1. Set “off-limits space.
Your home office needs to be off limits to other members of your family or anyone living with you. In fact, if you plan to take advantage of the home-based business tax deduction, your work area must be a dedicated space.
2. Invest in a professional desk system.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money, but you need an actual desk, not something you’ve improvised. Not only will it help keep you organized, but you’ll feel more like you’re at work.
3. Create a professional work area.
Piles of paper on your desk and floor means you’re sure to lose something, or at the very least spend hours trying to find what you did with that “one thing.” Create handy, specific storage spaces for the items you use regularly and then store other items out of sight.
4. Put safety first.
Does your home-office have wires everywhere? Disorganized strings of wires stretched across your office not only look unprofessional, but they are a safety risk too. Reconfigure your environment with safety in mind.
5. Don’t be a pack rat.
Books, newspapers, periodicals, brochures, and printed articles you plan to read later — these items can consume your workspace. If you don’t read something soon after it arrives, chances are you won’t. Get rid of it. For sensitive materials, be sure to invest in a paper shredder. Take time to shred everything with even the slightest bit of proprietary information.
6. Develop a system.
Once you get your home office organized, develop a system to keep it that way. Plan a time at least once a week to make sure everything is in order. Make it mandatory, not discretionary. Toss those items you don’t need. File anything you aren’t currently working on. And return items to their proper places.
7. Use technology.
Don’t print out or keep paper copies of work items that can be maintained electronically. Not only does it reduce the amount of paper in your office, but it is also a more secure way to protect your work product. Plus, it’s easier to locate items you need once they are stored in the cloud. They are always at your fingertips.
A well-organized and professional home office will significantly reduce your frustration and increase your productivity, ultimately enhancing your business success. Don’t procrastinate. Get started today.
What are some of your best ideas of home office organization?
Susan Wilson Solovic is an award-winning entrepreneur and journalist, author of three best-selling books, multi-media personality and contributor to ABC News and other outlets, public speaker and attorney. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.