Today, it is easier than ever to run a small business from home. With advances in technology and communication, a home office has become a convenient, flexible and affordable alternative to renting or owning office space.
When setting up your home office some of you will be able to utilize a spare bedroom or a basement as your new office. Others will share space with family areas, using the corner of a room or perhaps even the dining table. Either way, how you manage your home office is important as it affects not only the way you see yourself as a business owner, but also how efficiently you can carry out your daily business activities.
Having a home office requires proper workspace organization. Creating your office should not be treated as a one off exercise to ‘get organized’, instead you need to adopt practices that make sense to you and can be easily followed.
Here are some tips that can help you take the first steps in organizing you workspace:
- Pick a good spot – Even if you’ve already chosen an area for your office, just take a few minutes to think about whether there is a better place for you to work? Think ‘how’ you could create the space you need, rather than just looking at where there is room right now. Consider moving furniture around or boxing up rarely used personal items to create more space. To work efficiently you need to have everything you require easily at hand.
- Have only what you need near by – Working in tight spaces and spending a lot of time searching for misplaced files can impact your stress levels. Avoid placing objects which are irrelevant to your work in your office area, such as your child’s assignment or magazines.
- Separate out personal documents – It maybe unavoidable to keep personal items such as bank statements, bills or passports out of your home office. If this is the case, create a special area within the office for these items so that they do not get mixed up with your business paperwork.
- Throw out the trash – Make it a habit to throw away used tissue, pens and magazines etc at the end of every day.
- Find homes for everything – Work out where everything should live when you’re not using it. Group similar items together and put labels on drawers, boxes and folders. Remember, the less time it takes you to locate items, the more time you have to spend on the income generating activities of your business.
- Sort out the filing cabinet – Filing cabinets tend to contain a lot of clutter, people have a habit of keeping things in them that they no longer use or even need. Why not take time to at least sift through one cabinet or drawer every week or month? This can help free up space for new files and make it easier to find documents which are currently relevant. Also, remember that just because you are required to keep important business and financial documents they don’t need to be readily accessible. Place them in cardboard boxes and store them elsewhere.
- File regularly – Don’t just pile up folders and papers on your desk. Stacked papers should be placed in their proper folders or filing cabinets or even shredded if no longer useful. Doing this can save you time in looking for important papers which can easily be hidden underneath a pile of clutter.
- Monitor your messages – Message boards or bulletin boards are useful in organizing your workspace if used correctly, but can become a time capsule of messages if not cleared regularly. Cross out or remove notes once activities are complete, and do a general sweep of the board each week for anything you’ve missed. This can help you fight overwhelm as you visually see your progress throughout the week. In turn it will also assist you to plan your work schedule more efficiently and effectively as you have a clearer picture of what needs to be done.
- Keep your marketing materials handy – Always keep a supply of marketing materials at hand, ready to take to any meeting or networking event.
Though it might seem obvious, allocating appropriate space and de-cluttering your work environment will help you think and act more professionally. Finding what you need when you need it, can also go along way to reducing the time it takes to complete activities.