Whether your home office has a room of its own or is confined to the dining room or a nook in your bedroom, a system that lets you organize the paper flow is crucial to staying on top of your personal and professional responsibilities.
Keeping good records not only helps you find key documents quickly, it also saves time and eliminates headaches. And with everything neatly filed away or in its rightful place, your work area suddenly seems a model of efficiency.
For home office organization, I have one notebook that I use for to-do lists and a second for everything else. These two notebooks keep me straight. The key is that I write everything in them, rather than tiny pieces of paper.
Try it! This way, no slips of paper are lost. No phone numbers are misplaced. I don't have to tear up the house looking for the napkin with the contractor's name on it. All I have to do to find a message is thing, "Hmmm. I talked to them sometime last September."
Then I just flip back to the pages I wrote in September. Low tech? You bet. Efficient? Absolutely.
When you finish a notebook, place it in a box with the dates clearly labeled on front. Keep it for reference. You'll need it.
Think drawers, trays, file holders, and bins. Keep things nearby - but not necessarily on - your desktop. Your goal, should you choose to accept it, is to keep 75 percent of your desktop visible at all times.
Here's where the "near" comes in. You shouldn't have to get up to get your files, your faxes, or your phone.
Home office organization works best when you keep things simple. Keep stamps, a pen that actually writes, a calculator, and envelopes together so that bill time's a breeze (or at least as much of a breeze as bill time can be.)
Pens, pencils, and highlighters are among the assorted accessories that need a home spot in your home office. A cute mug with your kid's baseball picture works great; a drawer will do in a pinch.
Other essential stuff to stash in a supplies drawer or in a single box for easy grabbing includes staplers, tape, paper cutters, a hole punch, stamps, and thumbtacks. The bottom line: Group 'em so you can grab 'em in a pinch. Save time searching through drawers by storing as many items as possible in clear containers.
If you're short on space, store supplies and less-used items in a closet or in another part of your home.
Ditch yesterday's news and last month's magazines. Okay, so you won't read a newspaper from three days ago, why on earth are you keeping months-old magazines around? If you're saving a magazine for a reason - an article you want to clip out, say, - clip it out and recycle the rest.
If you're prepared for disaster, then it won't happen, of course. But if it does, you'll be prepared. Regularly back up critical computer files on a thumb drive or iCloud.