Working from home has its benefits. It also has its disadvantages: mainly, that if you don’t stay on top of keeping things organized, you’re going to have to put in more hours than necessary just searching for things you’ve lost.
If you’re working from home and ned some tips on how to stay organized, you’re in luck. Here are some tips for keeping your home office organized so you can get more work done, more efficiently.
1. Avoid using desk drawers
We’ve all been there. You need scissors, but have no idea where you set them down last. The second you open a desk drawer to look for them, you instantly regret it. They’re buried under piles and piles of random items, and it takes three times as long to dig them out than it does to actually use them.
Draws are a magnet for accumulating junk. They make it very easy to lose things you need to keep track of or find in a hurry. Instead of equipping your office with a desk full of drawers, get a simple desk and use as little surface space as possible to store items you might normally toss haphazardly into a drawer.
A filing cabinet with wheels can be your go-to substitute for desk drawers. It allows you to store all the files you need but limits you to unnecessarily hoarding other items you don’t need.
2. Organize your paper
You could be the most Type A, organized person you know and still lose track of hard copy documents if you don’t organize them properly. Even a file cabinet alone can’t save you from the disaster that is not being able to remember where you put File X even though you just had it in your hand.
How you organize your paper depends on the kind of work you do and your work preference. If you track your work by days, give each day its own folder, and group those folders together using dividers. If your work is project-based, you might designate one folder for every project.
Use a label maker to make things easier to find when you’re in a hurry. Keep all your paper in one place, and create your own rules for keeping things organized. For example, if you take out one folder, don’t take out another one until you’ve put that one back in its place first.
3. Group like items together
When you’re looking for envelopes, the next thing you’re going to look for once you find them is a sheet of stamps. It wouldn’t make sense to keep those two items in separate places in your office. Storing them together will make the process of sending that letter much more efficient.
Keeping items together that you will most likely use together is one way to keep your home office running efficiently. It is also a way to help you remember where you keep items you don’t use as often, so you will spend less time searching for miscellaneous items and more time actually getting work done.
Designate one shelf or area in your office for supplies like extra printer paper and ink cartridges and a different area for pens, highlighters and Sharpie markers. Also separate items based on how frequently you need to access them, keeping items you don’t use as often on the higher shelves or at the bottom of a stack of storage bins in the corner.
4. Use wall space
Walls aren’t just for hanging up mirrors and picture frames. If you don’t have a huge office space in your home, the best thing you can do is use your wall as an effective medium for organizing your workspace.
You can keep a calendar up on the wall to keep track of important dates you’ll otherwise forget, or a dry erase board to write yourself notes and reminders. You can even use command hooks to hang up wall organizers.
Put up some shelves to put things on if you want to keep the top of your desk clear. Things like books can end up taking up a lot more space than you realize. With things spread out, and your walls less bare, you’ll feel more organized and productive before you even start working.
5. Keep your work in your workspace
The major disadvantage of a home office is that you might be tempted to do work away from your office, such as in the kitchen or on the back patio. Don’t do that. You’ll bring out all the excuses: “I need a change of scenery” or “I’ll get more done out here.” Here’s why that’s a bad idea.
First of all, you’re much more likely to lose track of things if you take them out of the organized space they belong in. The last thing you want is to search for an hour for an important document, only to remember you left it on the kitchen counter and forgot to bring it back into your office.
Second of all, you don’t want to mix your work and home life … literally. File folders strewn about the coffee table just isn’t a necessary stressor. When it’s time to work, do the work. When you leave the office for the day, keep that work out of sight.
Treat your home office as you would any other office space. Keep anything that doesn’t have to do with work away from your office, and keep everything that has to do with work inside it.
Staying organized is worth it in the long-term. That 15 extra seconds it takes to put that item back exactly where you found it might seem like more time than it’s worth, but you’ll be grateful the next time you need to find it and remember exactly where it belongs.
Investing in a few organization tools and utilizing all the space in your office as possible will increase your efficiency and ensure that you can be a successful employee, boss or business owner. Keep your mind focused on your work and stay organized so you can accomplish your goals.