How To Organize Your Office
Are you buried behind a mountain of paper? It’s only gotten worse since the pandemic when most people have been working from home at least part of the time. If you have a home office (or even a corner of the living room or bedroom that serves as one), keeping your space organized will not only help you stay more efficient but also keep the stress level down. And hopefully, you will be able to find a way to separate home life from work life at least to some degree so that your home office doesn’t loom over you when you’re trying to relax. These tips can help you organize your home office.
When Organizing Your Home Office, Focus on Comfort
Does your desk face away from the rest of the house and leave you staring at a blank wall? Is it dark and you thrive on light? Is it cold and you work better in the warm? Does the artwork inspire or distract you?
Set yourself up for success by making sure that you’re setting up your physical surroundings in a way that works for you. This means having a comfortable chair, enough work space to be effective, décor that helps you focus, and if necessary, a space where you can take calls and zoom conferences privately.
Choose Storage Solutions that Work for You
In this digital age, there may not be many paper files you have to worry about, but whether it’s inventory you keep in stock, files you must maintain, or a place to keep pens and notebooks, make sure the storage works for you.
It’s a Pinterest world out there. We all want pretty, inexpensive, repurposed, chalk painted antiques storing our stuff. But the reality is that sometimes we need practical. We need form to happily marry function. Make sure that whatever your design style is, it leaves you with enough storage to fit the things you use. If you have a paper-heavy office, look for functional and easy-access filing storage. If you keep inventory of stock, make sure your shelving is adjustable and fits what you need to store. Live in your world, not Pinterest’s.
Create a Productive Filing System
Whether it’s paper-based or mostly electronic, make sure your filing system can keep up with your business or home office. We may not like dealing with paper, but organizing it properly is the key to a happy office. Again, don’t try to fit yourself into a system that wasn’t designed for your brain-type or your work style. If you like to pile then file, go with that. But if you work better filing each paper as it comes in, that works too. If you’re all digital, maximize your use of long filenames that start with YYMMDD and a clear label for what the file is so that you can search for it and search for the most recent version. Whatever filing system you use to organize your office, do it intentionally and with a plan. If you are tech savvy, get good software to support your needs.
It’s One Thing to Organize Your Office, Another to Keep It Organized
Take advantage of phone calls where you’re muted and just listening in, downtime while you’re waiting for something, and other free moments to keep your space organized. File something. Put something away. Delete the files you no longer need on your computer and put the rest in appropriate folders. By taking the opportunities in 5-10 minute increments, you can keep your office organized, too.
Bonus Office Organizing Tip: File These Papers Now
Do struggle with knowing what to file and which important papers to keep? Do you hate to file?
You’re not alone.
It’s so easy to procrastinate filing, and you know what? If you have the opportunity to do something with family, or help a client, or even indulge in some me-time, the papers will wait (and so will the digital files). But to keep your office organized, you really should do some filing. And to keep your personal life organized, it’s crucial that these five things are among the things you file.
If you only file 5 pieces of paper this year, make it these:
- 1. Copies of wills, medical directives, power of attorneys. These crucial documents are often needed in moments of crisis and looking for them in the midst of a crisis can be stressful. Not only should you file the paper versions, but you should also scan the documents and have digital copies as well.
- Life insurance policies. Another document you don’t need until it’s a stressful period in life. It’s best to have these documents somewhere where you can final them when they’re needed.
- Vital records, including birth and marriage certificates, divorce records, social security cards, and passports. These records can very costly or time-consuming to replace, so it’s best to have a safe place to keep them, like a fireproof lockbox.
- List of bank accounts and investments, including your account numbers and a recent statement, contact information for your investment advisor, and any other pertinent details you may need.
- A list of prescriptions and medications for you, your children, and any other dependents such as older parents. Having this information at your fingertips is essential in case of a medical emergency. So many of us are caring not only for children but for older parents as well. Having this information, as well as contact information for doctors and copies of insurance cards, can make providing that care much easier.
Practical + Functional + Beautiful
When it comes to organizing your home office, you need to think about practicality as well as functionality, but you don’t have to completely sacrifice aesthetics. There are a number of ways to make your home office an attractive part of your home, whether it’s an entire room in your home or just a corner you’ve carved out of an existing space.
Want more tips? Watch this 2020 interview with Cris Sgrott about Waking Up Paperless. Cris shares tips on how to organize your paperwork and wake up paperless in your while working from home, which can boost efficiency and save time for higher productivity.