Your home office is an important hub of productivity and efficiency. At least it should be. Often people aren’t sure how to organize or where to begin getting their home office organized and this can limit their ability to get things done, so that they can move on to the more important things. With the end of the year fast approaching, there is no better time to get your home office organized for a successful 2016. Usinga professional organizer will make all the difference in the world. Here are key organizational steps to hone productivity and help you manage your time and tasks best.
Dedicate Your Space
People are most productive when functioning in a dedicated space aligned with the tasks at hand. It’s unlikely you’ll do anything but exercise in a spin class – the darkness, loud music, and room of other cyclists reflects what you’re there to do. Does this apply to your home office? A key to getting organized for 2016 is rededicating the space. Do this through a simple inventory. Sit down with a favorite beverage and a piece of paper and your favorite pen. Create three columns and in the first, list everything you want to use your home office for: handling family finances, working remotely, a creative endeavor. In the second, write down what the space would ideally include.
By taking time away from the space to visualize it you’ll establish a mental picture of the office that works best for you. Next, head into your office to take inventory. Notice everything from your list that appears and leave it. Items that are not on your list, or do not align with the purpose of your home office should immediately be removed and placed in a room that better serves their purpose. Notice things that are missing? Make a list in the third column. By streamlining what is in your home office you’re one step closer to a better, more organized 2016.
File and Purge
Whether you use folders in a filing cabinet, computer files, or a combination, set aside time to go through everything so that you can file and purge. While doing this, make sure everything has a place. For computer files, look for things that are just hanging around on your desktop or in a section with other folders and no loose files – everything should be in a specific place. With physical files do the same – a car receipt should be in a file with other car receipts and paperwork. Sounds simple but you’d be amazed how many things get just placed aside. And these are impossible to find when you need them.
Some documents should never be discarded. A good rule of thumb to follow is that state and federal agency issued papers, licenses, and deeds never get purged. Another rule of thumb? If it’s hard to replace, don’t get rid of it. Marriage licenses, birth and death certificates, pension documents, mortgage, and other major financial documents also go in the forever file.
Some documents can be discarded after time. While opinions vary, here are the common timelines for keeping paperwork.
– Receipts and warranties should be kept until you no longer have the related item.
– Tax records and related paperwork should be kept for seven years.
– Pay stubs and bank statements should be kept for a year.
– Anything related to the purchase, sale, or improvement of property should be kept for seven years after the sale of the property.
– Medical bills and receipts should be kept for two years after the completion of payment.
Toss the following documents when the new one arrives: social security, annual insurance policy, and retirement plan statements.
The Three Piles That Will Quickly Streamline Your Office
– Toss – Like the name says, this is the pile of things to throw out. From bags to dead pens, receipts you don’t need to three month old to do lists – get rid of them.
– Donate/Give – Did you buy a type of pen and then decide you didn’t like them? Do you have extra notebooks or Post-Its that you don’t need because you’ve gone paperless? Unused, gently used, extra items, gifts that didn’t fit your lifestyle (you really don’t know why you were gifted a kitten calendar but didn’t have the heart to throw it out?) — these should all be donated or given away to others. Bringing a box of office supplies to your office, a local business, or a school will make others very happy.
– Keep – For all those things that belong but maybe aren’t in the right place, or for which you haven’t found the right place, it’s time to make a keep pile and then work on finding perfect spaces for them.
Think of the routines that would have made 2015 more productive and create a list. Habits have to be formed and often require reworking, but coming up with routines to try, and implementing them starting now, will allow you to decide what to implement in 2016. Here are some ideas for good routines.
Never Leave Your Desk Messy
A simple routine that will revolutionize your productivity if you’ve not already started doing it? Never leave your home office for the day with a messy desk. At the end of each day or evening put everything away, toss what can be tossed, file any papers or computer files, and leave your desk so that the next day you’re starting from a clean slate.
Use a Monthly Calendar To Track Long Term Projects
Whether it’s in a book, on a blotter, or on the wall, a monthly calendar will help you see the progress you’re making on projects at a glance. Start simply with your goal to organize your home office for 2016 and track how you’re doing. Check in with yourself every other day and note how you’re doing.
Buying a tennis racket won’t make you play well if you’ve never played and as tempting as it is, buying new organizational tools like furniture, planners, wall calendars, and software won’t make you any organized. Instead, it’s time to schedule an appointment with an expert.
You’ve laid the foundation and started exploring what may work for you, but a professional organizer will bring your home office, productivity, and time management to the next level. A member of the In Order To Succeed team will assess your style and habits to discover the best systems, routines, and tools for your office. Our professional organizers can purchase, install, and work with you to set up the best organizing system to meet your goals and make 2016 your most productive yet.