Cynthia, a psychologist and personality expert, has been working from home for the past year, shares some tips for organizing a home office.
She continues, “When I decided to use my guest room as my home office, I was unsure where to begin. So I read a lot of blogs about DIY home office setups. Many of them helped, while others did not. Here are a few things that have proven to be helpful so far.”
A color-code system
Many DIY blogs mention it, and it may be under-appreciated, but it works well. Using a color code to represent each supply, piece of equipment, and so on makes your space appear more organized. Even better, it makes it simple to locate your things.
This is something I’ve always done, even before I had a home office. Having paper around can make any space look like a mess. Keep binders for all of your important papers and make sure to keep your documents in them at all
Label the binders and folders
Labeling the binders, folders, and other document holders makes it much easier to know what each folder represents. You won’t have to sift through several before finding what you’re looking for.
Make use of containers
Containers are useful for small items that don’t seem to fit anywhere else. Pins, pencils, and needles, for example. Each container can be used to hold a different item. A small round one for pins, a box container for pencils, and so forth. Everything else falls into place when these things aren’t lying around.
Seana Turner a Professional Organizer out of Darien,CT shares a few tips for you.
Designate a space that will be used for work. Make it look professional, or in some way different, from your regular space. The subtle cue to the eye of a hanging work schedule, client binders, or action files can put you in the mindset to work.
Make sure to have all the supplies you need to work in this space to minimize the chance you will need to get up, walk away,and potentially get distracted from the task at hand.
Work & Office files separately
If possible, have one file drawer for work and one for home. If you are space-constrained, consider using a rolling file box or file ottoman just for business. This goes for supplies as well. To properly track expenses, keep your office supplies (paper, notepads, pens, etc.) separate from the stock that is used for home purposes.
Set Work Hours
While this may seem difficult,* it is very important to have a schedule for when you are “working.” Setting – and then clearly communicating – “work” hours provides predictability for you and for your friends and family.
If friends know you are working from 9-11 am every morning, they will be less likely to call home and interrupt you. If you can predict your schedule, you will have an easier time balancing work & home tasks (e.g.” I’m always working Monday, Wednesday’s ad Fridays, so I will only schedule household maintenance on Tuesday and Thursdays.”) Finally, avoid tackling housework or personal chores during work hours. Keep work time sacred, as if you are in an office far away from home.
Whether you close the door, hang a sign, or put on a hat, find a way to remind family members of all ages that you are working and hence, should not be interrupted. This is difficult with little ones, but they too can be taught to look first.
If you are watching your children and working at the same time, be sure to take frequent breaks so you can reward children who are trying to hold off and not interrupt you.
One of the problems of working from home is that you never “leave.” Work has a tendency to stare at you, beckoning for attention. Be sure each day to have a clear list of what you need to accomplish, and when you have either completed the list or reached a stopping point, walk away.
Be sure to clean up at the end of the day to avoid the risk of little hands/dogs/unsuspecting family members misplacing or damaging an important item.
Combining work and childcare can be challenging. Consider hiring childcare, even if it is only for a few of your working hours. Do your easier work when little ones are underfoot, and save the conference calls for a time when someone else is in charge.
The overarching theme here is to *create an artificial separation where it really doesn’t exist. By segregating your space, supplies, attention and time, you can make working from home an efficient and affordable alternative.