Tag Archives: Home Office

The Problems Of Clutter When Working From Home

If you are an ecommerce entrepreneur working from home you may find yourself overwhelmed with clutter, especially if you have a small home or a lack of storage facilities. If someone is only running a small online store they will quite often compromise by storing their stock in a home garage or loft instead of renting out storage facilities. This may be a necessity in the early stages of a business but if you begin to grow more successful then your increasing amount of stock may cause a problem in your home.

The problem with storing stock at home

If you are storing a large amount of stock or valuable stock in your home a variety of issues can arise. First of all is the obvious problem of clutter and the issue of your house feeling more like a workplace than home. Having large amounts of storage in a loft or a garage can help you overcome the problem of clutter but if you begin storing items in your general living rooms then problems can arise. Having work based items in your living rooms can cause a blurring between your work and home life. Such a situation can cause a loss of routine and a built up of stress, leading to issues such as burnout and depression. Not only can stock clutter cause these mental issues but there is also the physical problems of tripping, fire, and the buildup of pathogens. The build up of disease causing pathogens is caused by inadequate storage. If your storage is exposed to the air and not temperature controlled not only can it be a health issue but it can also cause a build up of mould or mildew which could render your stock worthless.

Other problems with practicality

Other problems with having a cluttered amount of stock in your home include security. If you store your stock at home then it may be on show to passersby increasing the probability of theft. It is also worth noting that such a theft may not be covered by your insurance provider, you should always check beforehand to make sure. Your security system itself may be inadequate if you have stock on show, for example, if you haven’t got an alarm system in place then you really shouldn’t be storing any large amounts or expensive amounts of stock. Another problem with storing stock at home is the issue of receiving new stock, as homes don’t have a goods in area it might be difficult for the deliverer to get close to your home. This means you might have to manhandle a greater amount of stock, increasing the chance of injury and increasing the chances of storing your stock somewhere in the way instead of the place where you initially wanted to store it.

As an ecommerce entrepreneur working from home hoarding stock is a major issue, especially if you have a slight hoarding problem in the first place. If your business begins to become more successful and you start to store larger amounts of stock you may find that you hit a wall when it comes to storing your stock at home. Nowadays, many small businesses are choosing to use flexible self storage facilities with office spaces over working from home. The benefits of such facilities compared against working from home are detailed in the following infographic.

The Ecommerce Entrepreneur's Choice: Work from home or a self storage office?

By My Storage Pod – The Ecommerce Entrepreneur’s Choice: Work from home or a self storage office?

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Easy Ways To Prepare Your Tax Return Faster

tax papers 2

If you are feeling overwhelmed as the April 15th tax deadline approaches, you are not alone. Many people delay filing and experience a huge sense of dread as they try to get their tax documents organized and ready to file.

We all know that tax receipts that are disorganized and lying around in piles, musty boxes, and paper clips make it super difficult to prepare the information needed to complete a tax return.

There is a better way. 

If you place your receipts, as you receive them, into file folders that are divided into your actual tax return tax line categories, your avoidance and overwhelm will disappear and tax time will become a breeze! 

For instance, if you are an entrepreneur, consider changing your habits and, all throughout the year, place your receipts for office supplies into a folder marked office supplies.

When you do this, at the end of the year, all that you would need to do is take out those receipts out of their folder, add them up and voilà!  you have the total for the tax line deduction for office supplies! 

After adding up the office supply receipts, you can then staple them together and write the total with a sharpie on the top of the pile. Very low tech, I’ll admit, but super easy, organized and effective!

 If you are an employee, your tax return is super simple. Simply make files for charitable, income, medical, taxes paid and any other categories on your return.  Place your receipts into these files as you go about your year.

Hanging file folders in an actual file drawer, by the way, is considered by industry professionals, including myself, as the best practice method. Hanging files keep your files vertical, and out of potentially collapsed piles, within your drawer.

If you want to ‘up your game’ even more, make duplicate files and mark them odd year, even year. This will keep your receipts separated and you will no longer have 2 years of receipts to sort through when you are compiling your tax return for that one year.

This might sound simple and it is. In fact I have come to realize that the most simple strategies often take the longest amount of time to figure out.

Seth Odam, the inventor of the system I am describing (Freedom Filer) spent 6 years studying IRS tax codes and  also how we remember things when he began developing the ultimate system to keep your tax papers and all of your other papers organized. All of the tips I have given you are based on the amazing Freedom Filer paper flow system.

You can put this system together on your own without the need to purchase the system. If you want to cut corners, save time and get your system put together once and for all – Freedom Filer will save you boatloads of time!

Freedom Filer helps you get a jump start join the process because the Freedom Filer Kit comes with pre-printed labels so that you can quickly set up your system.

This is one of the many emails I receive every year after the April 15th deadline:

“Kathi’s tools and training are amazing. it took me 5 minutes to grab my tax information for my accountant and 30 minutes for her to complete them. Thanks to Kathi’s systems.

Just for the record I have personal business and investment components to my taxes. this was not just a W-2 fill in the blanks EZ return.”

Kathryn A Christensen

Remember – preparing your tax return does not have to be an overwhelming and exhausting task. Check out Freedom Filer to learn more.

Feeling overwhelmed but motivated to change your habits once and for all? Contact us to set up a time for a private consultation and get started creating a new way to organize your papers.

We are available to jump start your paper organizing process, in person or virtually. We know that you, like the thousands of clients before you, can solve your paper receipts problem once and for all! Click here to contact us.

By the way, we are in the process of revising the Home Office Organization Course. If there is anything that you need to help you get your office organized, we would love to have your feedback. Give us your ideas and suggestions in the comments section below.

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A Busy Home Office Overwhelmed with Paperwork Gets Freedom Filed!

A client recently contacted me because she was unclear about what paperwork she needed to keep and what she could shred. She had papers spread throughout her office. With information pertaining to numerous investment properties and multiple (more…)

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How to organize your home office

Home office

Once you decide to work from home, designating an office space is mandatory. Even if it is just a large table in a corner, the key is to make it an exclusive work area – nothing unrelated to your business should be allowed. This will allow you to stay more fully focused on your business at hand, and keeping your other paperwork such as private financial records separate may even qualify you for a home office tax write-off.

Organize your desk properly from the very beginning and make sure to spend at least ten minutes a day keeping it that way. Just a small investment of time will save you countless hours of frustration looking for misplaced or lost papers or trying to do paperwork on a hopelessly cluttered desktop. Make use of desk and drawer organizers to keep pens, paper-clips and sticky notes handy.

Be certain you have a trash basket by your desk to dispose of unneeded paper and discarded envelopes or mail. This will reduce mess and help keep your workspace clear. Have a vertical inbox on top of your desk to hold papers or files that require immediate attention, and an outbox somewhere by the exit of your office for mail and packages that are awaiting pickup or a trip to the post office.

Make sure your file cabinet is industrial strength. If a brand new one is outside of your price range, check thrift and second hand stores for a gently used, well made cabinet. Likewise, try to find a desk large enough to hold your computer and leave plenty of surface space free for work. These items are worth investing in; good quality cabinets will last you for years. Likewise, an ergonomic chair is almost a necessity if you want to avoid fatigue and back strain.

Form a habit of filing papers as you handle them instead of letting them stack up on your desk. Decide on a categorizing system and label all files accordingly. Use the same approach for your daily mail; open it all immediately and discard the junk, then file remaining mail (invoices, bills, etc) in the appropriate place. Have a special folder for business expenses and keep every receipt for business related items – these will be useful when tax time rolls around.

Take an hour or two each week to enter any new contact information into your database. Handheld computer scanners are available to make entering business card data quick and efficient, or you can use a regular rolodex file and simply staple the business cards to the blanks provided. Many businesses depend on accurate, up to date contacts, and you will benefit from having this information at your fingertips.

If you are working more than 40 to 60 hours a week, or are having difficulty finding time for family, consider hiring help for lawn care and housework. This will cut down on stress, and may even increase your productivity to the point that such a proposal can pay for itself.

Working from home is an incredible experience, but requires a high degree of organization to be fully effective. By designating a section of your home as a special work zone, you will enable yourself to work without distraction and reach your greatest potential.

by Kathi Burns – addSpace To Your Life!TM,
a Professional Organizing and Image Consulting Agency
Want to get better organized and look your best?
Get more quick tips by visiting the addSpace To Your Life!TM website.
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Finally ~ an Easy Way to Keep Cords From Sliding Off Your Desk

I have had the good fortune to try out a new cord organizer for the past few weeks. Actually it is a bit of an organizer and also a storage device. This little device is called MOS which stands for Magnetic Organization System.


I am not sure if you have the same problem that I do  but every time I used to disconnect my laptop to carry it somewhere else, all of my cables wold then quickly fall off of my desk. ONce I disconnect, the monitor, keyboard, hard drive and speaker cables would slide right off of my desk. This made getting back hooked up and running later a pain the you know what!

So, I was a bit skeptical when I first saw this cute little device. It seemed too small and too cute to be able to wrangle all of my cables and keep them in one place in between use. But guess what? It does and it is oh, so simple. No installation required. Simply place it on your desk wherever your cables might be and let the magnets attract and hold them tight! Oila! Now my cables no longer fall on to the floor when not in use.

Also, they provided extra magnetic ties which worked out great for my super heavy printer cable and my ipad cable that did not seem to be very magnetic. This device is also available in black and aluminum.

If your desk is up against a wall and it makes sense, MOS can also mounted to the wall which keeps all loose cables off of your desktop. As a professional organizer, who constantly asks my clients to keep 60% of their desk cleared and open for business,  I give this option a thumbs up!

They are ready and waiting in a nice, neat and organized fashion when I jump back onto my desk. Yay!

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Organizing Your Home Office

Kathi,

I need help setting up my home office space. I have recently started a home based business after working in a corporate environment for years.

Darron, Rancho Santa Fe

Darron,

Congratulations on becoming your own boss. You now have the perfect opportunity to create an effective work area suited to your tastes. Whether it’s a nook, cranny or a separate room, your work area should be conducive to performing your daily work.

A well-equipped workspace will contain all necessary supplies and equipment within arms reach. Larger tools like fax machines and printers should be set up in areas with easy access.

Use a desk caddy. Keep a sufficient supply of pens, pencils, paper clips scissors and other supplies in a desktop holder or a tray inside a desk drawer.

Make sure to keep 2/3 of your desktop cleared at all times. It is easier to function and maintain focus when your desk space is open and free of clutter.

Mimic the corporate environment by creating forms for everyday tasks. For example, type up a personalized Fax Transmittal Form that includes your company name, phone number and other pertinent information. Make copies and leave them by your fax machine for quick and efficient fax transmissions. Create standard email signatures for your email correspondence.

Adhere to a daily routine and schedule. Maintain focus on your long-range goals (life and business) as you go about your daily tasks. Consider whether the busy-ness you are involved in is directly related to your long-term goals. Keep your schedule constantly aligned with the specific reason that you began working for yourself and you will go far.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com

San Diego Professional Organizer

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Organizing home office

Kathi,

I work from home and can’t seem to stay focused. My desk and schedule are always overrun with items that don’t apply to my job.

Karine, Del Mar

Karine,

With the shorter commute time, you can tidy up your desk at the end of each day without worrying about rush hour. You will begin with a clean slate and produce results in a much shorter time each morning.

You might need to create a separate desk space or counter area for your personal finances. Set up a corner of your kitchen counter for bills and personal correspondence. This will help you focus on work when you are in your office. Keeping personal matters separate from business also makes your home office eligible for a tax write-off each year.

Hire someone to do the lawn, clean and other routine chores around the house. This will alleviate the tendency to putter about the house throughout the day instead of tackling the workload.

If long periods of sitting makes you lethargic, arrange two working levels so you can do some of your work standing up.

Get at least ten minutes of exercise each day. Decide to step away from your desk at regular intervals. This will reduce fatigue and increase your concentration for the task at hand. 

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com
.
San Diego Professional Organizer

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Home office design, Organizing desk configuration (part 2)

(Part 2)

Doris,

This week I would like to discuss your teenage sons desk design. It is really important that your son has a larger desk area than the one you grew up with. The long and short of it is, the old hand me down desk from 15 years ago is probably not large enough.

Think about it – did you have a computer, printer, iPod etc when you were in school? The modern school study work space should be at least 5-6 feet long. Most older desks do not include a file drawer and have too many small shallow drawers. These small drawers usualy serve as nothing more than a junk holding area.

Whatever you choose, make sure to have at least 4 feet of open surface for your son to open up books and write upon.

A file drawer included with a desk is very helpful for sorting papers by subject. This is the time for your son to develop good paper habits. Work with your son to create a file system that makes sense to him. Make sure he has tabs and empty folders to make new folders when neccessary. Possible headings for folders could be: by the subject, by the project, or simply homework completed, etc. During the summer, go through this drawer and purge the old papers to make way for new files the next school year. This is an invaluable skill for you r son and worth the time and resistance that you might encounter in the beginning.

Teach your son now to save warranties and manuals for all of the electronic gadgets he will surely own. Again – a valuable skill that he can use for the rest of his adult life.

Ok – back to the desk. Keep the hard drive off of the desk surface as well as the keyboard and mouse if possible. Place the hardrive below the desk of off to the side. Use a keyboard tray. If the desk does not come with a keyboard tray, look into purchasing a single unit and installing under your existing desktop.

I often install a 12 inch wide shelf directly above and centered over the desk. Install the first shelf 8-10 inches above the desktop and add a few other shelves staggered above and to the sides of the centered shelf.

These shelves will hold binders, text books and memorabilia without cluttering up the desk surface. U-shaped shelves that have side brackets built in help keep the larger books upright without the need for wobbly book ends.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com
.
San Diego Professional Organizer

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Home office design, Desk configuration (part 1)

Dear Kathi,

There is a debate in our household about the set up for a basic simple desk. How would you set it up without getting expensive furniture for a home office and also for a teenager to do homework from?
Doris, Encinitas


Doris,

The configurations for both desks will be slightly different. Most home offices will benefit from using an L pattern for the desk surface. The L works well because you can set up your computer on one end and still have a flat open space for paperwork on the other side.
Place your computer on the short end of the L on your desktop. Keep your hard drive off of the desk. Place it below the desk off to the side and possibly on rollers for easy access. The only items that should be on your desktop will be the monitor and maybe the keyboard/ mouse if you don’t have a slide out drawer.

You and your printer are best served up and out of the way on a corner shelf. Cut out a notch before you hang the shelf for the wires to drop down the back. If you don’t have a corner area (although you should with an L) hang a wide shelf 10-12 inches above the desktop to hold the printer. The same rule applies to your fax machine if you have one. Another option to keep your desktop clear is to place your printer/fax machines on your file cabinet off to the side of your desk. I only recommend this if the file cabinet is close at hand to the desk chair.

Speaking of this, it is important that you have a file drawer under your desk or very close by. Close by means that you don’t need to get up to use it. This will be where you should store your working papers, the ones you access most frequently be it bills, current projects or other paperwork that you use daily. The closer and more convenient your file drawers are, the more likely you will not have a paper pile up on your desk. Wire stepped vertical file holders are great for keeping your active papers corralled.

Consider using categories like: Waiting for Response, Bills to Pay, Calls to Make, or Coupons. Use manilla folders for this shelf. Generally these metal stack shelves have 8 steps so you can divide your everyday papers into 8 sections if you wish.

Keep the open area on your desktop open. The front 70% of the desk should be cleared off and ready to hold work when you begin projects. With this in mind, it is easy to see that a shallow drawer to hold pens, post it notes, the stapler etc

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com
.
San Diego Professional Organizer

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A Space Efficient Way to Organize Office Supplies

More and more people are working from home offices, either part time or full time.

The challenge is that often, the house they live in does not have room for a full scale office. Perhaps they are stealing part of their dining room or a corner of their bedroom (not recommended by the way.)

Most frequently I find clients using part of the guest room to conduct business. Most guest rooms cannot completely commit to business alone and still need a place for the occasional guest to visit!

This was the case of this particular client. We needed to use the closet for luggage, extra clothes and of course, leave a little space for the guest suitcase etc. With that in mind, I recommended that we implement a portable office supplies system in the form of this little cart on wheels.

When the office was in action, the cart could be rolled out of the closet and positioned by the small desk. When guests arrived, it could be parked inside the recessed area to the right of the closet.

My favorite organizing categories were used and you might want to try using them as well. They work great to combine ‘like items with like.”

The categories we used were:

Things that Stick – Tape, glues etc

Things that Bind – Staples, paper lips, rubber bands etc

Things the Write – Pens, pencils, markers etc

Tools – Scissors, stapler, hole puncher, etc

Mail Supplies – stamps, address labels, envelopes etc

Batteries – this one is obvious. You might not need it positioned in this area like this client did,  but please make sure that you have a designated battery storage bin somewhere within your home. It will save you hours of frustration each year.

Other potential categories I have created over the years and that you might decide to use could be titled:

Things to Write On: Paper, post it notes etc

Things to Write In: Notepads, journals, day planners etc

However you decide to organize your office supplies, make sure that the majority of your collection is stowed into one contained area and not scattered throughout your house.

There is nothing more frustrating than finding the box of staples and not being able to find the stapler. Right?

If you have created other successful solutions for this common problem, please tell me about it in the comments section below. If you have a photo that you wold like to include to show off your idea, please email it and your tip to advice@addspacetoyourlife.com and we will post it with your comment.

 

 

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