An organized home office helps you keep track of files and paperwork whether you’re running a household or a business!
You probably have a home office.
Okay, perhaps it’s a corner of the kitchen, or that bookshelf in your bedroom, but I imagine you have a place to store bills and important records.
A place where you sit down with your laptop or phone and figure out how to ensure there’s more month than money.
If you don’t, you should. Taxes, receipts, warranties – every household I’ve known seems to generate a crazy amount of paperwork that must be saved, sorted, and tracked.
And if you’re running a home business (like an income-producing homestead), then you really need to have a home office of some sort – and more importantly, you need an organized home office so that you can find things!
This is the first of a series where we will work through, and look at ways of organizing, every room in the house. There are affiliate links in this post. This means that, if you buy through my links, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Dedicate Space for an Organized Home Office
Can you set a dedicated space aside to create an organized home office?
Not only can it be a tax deduction if you have an income-producing business, but it can go a long way to making you look more professional and become more profitable. Even if your business is running a household, you have the same goals as any business – reduce expenses, increase income, maximize profit!
The type of business you are running will dictate the type of office you need.
Will you be having clients meeting you in your office?
Will it be your workspace?
Will it be a multi-purpose room? For example, if you have a business based mainly on a computer and internet, then you won’t need as much space as you would for a craft production or product distribution business.
First, eliminate anything from the room that isn’t directly connected to your business (unless it is a multi-purpose room, such as a wall that serves as the family library). The fewer distractions you have, the better. It also helps reduce unnecessary clutter. Store things in boxes or move them to another room.
Even those who say they work well in a busy environment will do better with few distractions.
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Set Up a Filing System
There are many nice filing systems – from the traditional filing cabinets, to hanging folders that can attach to the back of a door. Sort through all the papers in your office. Decide what you need to keep and what can be thrown away.
When in doubt, set up another folder or box for things to look at again later – and then schedule time to go through it.
Once you establish a filing system, keep up with it on a daily basis.
It is too easy to become overwhelmed if you don’t. Color-coded systems work nicely. One color for tax-deductible related items, another for invoices to clients, another expenses, etc. Then you simply place the papers or receipts in the appropriate color folder.
The workspace is often the most difficult to keep organized, but if you have a handle on the paperwork, it helps reduce one area of clutter.
Make sure the workspace is large enough, and comfortable.
I started writing this blog while using a kitchen chair and the top of a short bookcase – that was uncomfortable and unpleasant!
Don’t assume, though, that a soft office chair is your best bet – I do my best work in a comfortable wooden chair … I’m just no longer breaking my back by balancing a laptop on the top of a bookcase!
Whether you have to sit or stand do to your work, make sure the surface is at the correct height. This will help reduce back strain and allow you to work for longer periods of time, thereby increasing your productivity.
There are many nice desk organizers that allow you to keep items close at hand but out of the way.
If you only keep the items you need most often on the workspace, it will also reduce clutter.
Keep the rest tucked away in storage units in your desk drawer, shelf or box. There are drawer organizers that can be customized to meet your needs. This is easier than it was in the past, since many of our bulky tools (like Rolodex and desk clock) are increasingly being replaced with smart phones and powerful laptops, but the clutter of ‘stuff’ can still overwhelm if you’re not careful.
Make sure you have enough space for your computer, printer and any other hardware you may need, such as scanners and fax machines. Many companies produce multi-purpose units that combine those features into one machine, which takes up much less desk space.
Don’t forget to organize the computer itself.
There are many organizational software programs that can help you track appointments, clients, and your work. By using these programs, you can keep on top of things and waste less time.
I’ve been using Coschedule for a while since it lets me track pretty much everything, including my blog posts and social media. If your business involves a blog, social media, and possibly communication with a remote team, you might want to look into that.
Set up special folders in your documents folder, so you can file things away for easy retrieval. I try to go through my folders every week and spend some time doing digital housekeeping. Databases and spreadsheets are also very helpful tools in tracking your inventory and other business related needs.
It’s very easy to let your paperwork disappear into a pile of “Where did it go?”
Whether you’re running a profit-earning business at home or simply trying to keep your household finances in the black, an organized home office can help you meet your goals.