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
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