A home office can be the epicenter for your work-at-home career or it can help keep the pulse of your family’s busy schedules. Whatever the primary use for the space, if you do not stay on top of the paperwork and to-do lists that flow through; it can be covered with clutter in no time.
Developing an efficient system of organization for your home office will help you and everyone else in the house stay on task. If your desk is already piled high with papers and other uncategorized items, here are a few tips to help you take back control of the chaos.
To get started, begin by moving everything off of your desk. You do not have to sort through the mess just yet, just clear the space out for now. Give the surfaces of your office area (desk, chair, shelves, etc.) a good dusting and vacuum the floor. Starting with a clean slate will help you move forward with better focus.
Create a Strategic System
Next, work on developing a system for efficiently moving items through your home office. Once you receive a piece of mail or a new task, put it in your Inbox and make sure you take care of it within a couple of days. Once complete, put it in the Outbox, and again, make sure it does not sit there for more than a couple of days. Use file folders with neat labels to hold current projects or to store documents in your filing cabinet until ready to purge. Keep your desk clear of trash and other unnecessary papers by having a trashcan, recycling bin and paper shredder handy.
Piles of paperwork tend to be a common problem in most home offices. If your work area is covered with unopened mail and your existing filing cabinet is overflowing, it is time to take control. Many people worry that they might toss something of importance, so here are a few rules to remember.
- Tax Documents – keep for 7 years
- Paystubs – file for 1 year, until you receive your W2
- Investment Statements – file for 1 year, until you receive your year-end summary
- Bank Statements – keep for 1 year
- Medical Bills – keep for 1 year
- Credit Card Statements – hold for 1 month to verify transactions
If you are still receiving many paper statements and bills in the mail, consider switching to electronic copies. If newspapers, magazines or other periodicals pile up, get into the habit of tearing out items of interest, put them in a binder for later use, then recycle the rest.
Important documents such as birth certificates, social security cards and passports should be stored in a fireproof safe with a lock. Especially if you operate a business out of your home, it is wise to keep all your paperwork in a fireproof filing cabinet that can be locked.
If you want to maximize efficiency and boost productivity, keep the surface of your desk as empty as possible. That area should be clean and readily available to focus only on the task at-hand. Instead of taking up space with office supplies, photos, files and other non-pertinent objects, make use of the vertical surface area of your walls.
- Add some shelves for storing books
- Use a large wall calendar instead of a desk calendar
- Mount hanging file organizers on the wall or on the sides of your desk
- Hang a few storage containers directly above your desk surface to hold pens, pencils, scissors and other small office tools
- Use a freestanding floor lamp instead of a desk lamp for task lighting
Having a clean and organized home office can help keep stress to a minimum and ensure that nothing important slips through the cracks. Once you have the area organized, commit to keeping it that way by spending a little time each day moving papers and completing tasks as a part of your system.
For expert organizing advice and customized storage solutions for your home office, contact Garage Décor and More today!