Yep, there is even MORE info in our series on Keeping it Organized! Coming soon: Real life Mary Kay organization tips from “File, Don’t Pile” to consultants swapping ideas on inventory storage! For now, read these tips from Home Office Life.com.
Tip #12: The five biggest home office blunders and how to avoid them.
On your quest for the perfect home office, reason and planning ahead can get left behind. Before you set up a new home office or as you evaluate your current set up, consider these common home office mistakes and how to avoid them.
Blunder #1- Using the wrong room for an office. What seems right and what feels right can create an internal battle and affect your productivity. For example, if it seems right to use a spare bedroom as an office but you feel better working at your kitchen table, stop to consider why. Is your kitchen bright and roomy while your spare bedroom is too dreary and cramped? Find another spot for your home office and don’t be surprised to find yourself using that space often.
Blunder #2- Not planning long range for wiring needs. When you open your home office you may need nothing more than a business line and fax/modem line. As your business grows, however, you’ll need additional lines for incoming calls and dedicated lines for your fax, modem, plus more electronic equipment. Direct Internet access available from your cable or phone company will alleviate the need for a modem line, but you’ll still have to be able to accommodate additional lines and outlets.
Blunder #3- Lack of storage space. “Starter files” and office supplies occupy little space but as your client list grows and projects increase, so will your storage needs. Determine how much information or how many supplies you need to store now, and estimate how much storage space you’ll need down the road. Ideally, store all of this information within your home office instead of stashed throughout your home.
Blunder #4- No schedule. When you work at home it’s easy to sleep late, work late and get distracted. Distraction is fine to a point. If you’re spending more time sidetracked than on-track it’s time to reevaluate what you’re doing (or in this case not doing). Set a flexible schedule with two main elements: a starting time and a quitting time. Make it easy to quit at the end of the day by shutting your home office door (if possible) and leaving it closed until the next day. Walking by an open office can be an open invitation to work all evening.
Blunder#5- Lack of a planning system. At first, running your business by the seat of the pants may seem feasible but quickly becomes flawed. Don’t feel pressured to invest in a traditional paper- based planner, handheld organizer or computerized system (although they all work well, depending on the individual). Instead, find a system that works for you even if it’s a spiral notebook and monthly calendar and use it regularly.
Tip #13: Reducing Paper in Your Home Office
While many home office professional are taking steps to eliminate or at least reduce the endless streams of paper flowing in and out of their offices, others still face piles of paper, stacks of mail and file cabinets too stuffed to open. By making a few changes in the way you handle information – whether paper-based or electronic- you can reduce the amount of paper in your office.
When a piece of paper crosses your desk, make a decision about it, rather than stack it on top of or alongside other papers. Before you decide to keep a piece of paper, make sure that it’s information you need to keep for future reference, rather than something that you need “just in case.” If you keep something, yet can’t find it, it’s of no value to you.
Scan documents then toss the pieces of paper. Be careful not to keep so much extraneous information on your hard drive, however, that you get bogged down searching for the documents you need. Rather than store scanned reference information (documents that you may need at a later date) on your computer, scan the information and back it onto disks or other types of external tape drives. Make it easy to find these documents by storing them by category. For example, all publicity documents could be on one Zip disk or tape and marketing information on another.
Use your computer to send and receive faxes. When you receive a fax, file it on your hard drive, a disk or other external tape drive. When you fax a document not already on your hard drive, simply scan the information into your computer and fax it. If you won’t refer to the faxed information again, dump it.
Instead of typing, printing, stuffing and mailing another letter, use e-mail. You’ll spend less time composing the message and the recipient can respond quickly and easily (plus your postage bills will go down). Take the time to clear out old e-mail messages that you know you’ll never refer to again and avoid the temptation to print e-mail messages. Keep the important messages stored electronically.
Before you renew another magazine subscription, find out whether the publication is available on line or on a CD. When you need to refer to an article, you’ll save time searching your computer or CDs for an article stored by name, rather than pouring over past paper issues looking for the same article. In addition, you’ll no longer waste valuable space in your office storing stacks of magazines because the articles you need will be stored in your computer files or in a CD holder.
Tip #14: Putting Your Walls To Work
Horizontal space is often limited in a home office. When organizing your home office, think vertically and put your walls to work.
Add shelves above or next to your desk to gain more storage space. You can use open shelves or sturdy cabinets that attach to your wall. Also there are prefabricated products originally designed for cubicles, that adapt to fit any type of wall.
Use bulletin boards to store memorabilia, “fan letters” or inspirational quotes. Avoid posting tasks to accomplish or important project information unless you know that you will refer to it daily. If you are visually oriented and want to see at a glance the status of various projects, use a bulletin board to track your progress. Make sure you divide the bulletin board into columns and label each column.
Consider using a white board instead of a bulletin board. White boards are available with or without lines dividing various sections of the board. Make sure that you have plenty of extra white board markers on hand and something nearby to wipe the board clean.
At the end of each month, review your bulletin board or white board and remove information that is no longer valid.
Attach wall pockets or “hot files” (plastic holders) to the wall to hold papers, supplies, or anything else you need to have within reach. Wall pockets can hold about 100 sheets of paper or four to five interior folders and are an ideal way to keep papers in sight, yet organized. Make the holders easily accessible by placing them near your desk.
If you are constantly pulling the phone off of your desk, attach it to the wall. Also, use an extra long cord to give you the flexibility to reach information or supplies you may need while on the phone.
The next time you feel the need for more space, keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with letting the problem drive you up the wall…literally.
I sincerely do hope you are attempting to put some of these tips to use. Remember, time is money! The more organized you are, the faster you can find what you need…thus saving valuable time. While getting organized can be a huge task, once you get a system in place it can be a lifesaver. And a big thanks to DARA for noticing and bringing to my attention that this is an area that we ALL could use some tips in! Myself included!