This is a partnered post.
Americans are working from home more than ever. You can credit the rise of independent contractors. Also flex employment hours and technology that enables easy contact with business associates anywhere.
But just because they’re doing it doesn’t mean they’re doing it well. If you don’t have a home office that’s functional and well organized. You are probably working in chaotic dysfunction.
Here are a few tips for boosting productivity and getting the most out of your home office.
Formulate the image you want to convey.
How do you feel best in an office environment? What kind of mood do you prefer? Do you see yourself in a space that’s light and cheery or a dramatic hideaway?
When you feel good about your workspace, you’ll work better. Proper aesthetics can increase your peace of mind. Sharpen your focus.
It doesn’t take much. A couple gallons of paint, some wall art and productivity-enhancing lighting can work wonders.
Consider how the space will be used.
Will you be on the phone most of the time? Staring at your laptop? How often will you need to make a path to file cabinets or coffeemaker?
Will you be sharing your space with other family members? Seeing clients? These questions will help you determine how you must lay out your space and the equipment needed.
Reduce paper dependence.
Nothing clutters an office faster than rows of file cabinets and stacks of paper on every horizontal surface.
We humans foolishly felt that the digital age would be the end of paper. But many of us print out everything found online rather than reading it from a screen. Or make paper copies of every email or receipt, and multiple copies of contracts.
Reduce your dependence on hard copies. You can safely store all your digital content in the cloud. If you still feel insecure (what if the cloud breaks?), make multiple backup files.
They’re invisible except when you need them. They take up zero storage space. Only keep the paper that must be retained for legal reasons. Signed contracts or leases, for instance.
Consider storing off-premises most of the paper you feel you must keep. Think what better use you could make of that space currently occupied by two tall file cabinets.
Have a place for everything — and keep everything in its place.
Enough storage space used wisely will keep your office — and your life — more organized. Start with a desk that has plenty of storage, and plan how each drawer and compartment will be used.
Use bookcases if space allows and install shelving on the walls. As for your main work surface, a desktop organizer can keep some of your most-used items within easy reach — but out of the way when not needed. A desktop organizer will also keep you from wasting time fumbling for a pen or paper clip.
But all that wonderful storage space only works if you use it properly. Spend the last few minutes of each workday straightening up and reorganizing. That way, when you head to the office in the morning your mind will be as uncluttered and ready for action as your work-space.
Most of these ideas are easy to implement. When you do, you’ll find that you’ll work faster and more efficiently, and feel better about the time you spend in your home office.