Think about designing your home office for maximum productivity. First, consider the location. When doing so, ask yourself how often you’ll be using the space and for what kind of work. You need to allow the right amount of space for the amount of time and the type of work you’ll be completing.
Which space in your home will allow you to focus on the work you want to accomplish? That often means a separate space that is not in the way of playing children, near a bed that tempts you to nap or in the middle of your family’s coming and goings. If extra space is difficult to find, you’ll have to be creative. Personally, I use my “formal” living room—no one ever used it anyway—so it was wasted space.
First, you need a laptop or computer. This may sound like a no-brainer, but it’s important to invest in the most efficient technology so that you don’t have issues down the road. A comfortable work table or desk and an ergonomically correct chair are also crucial. Stackable sources of storage can help maximize your space vertically, while supply caddies or desktop organizers can help keep the space clutter-free.
Every home office should have the proper technology, personalization, and organization. Getting the right technology will help ensure your home office is well-equipped, and you’ll be set for productivity down the line. Don’t forget to add a few personal touches to spruce up your desk to feel inspired. Live plants, family photos, and small trinkets help make the home office part of your home while still being a place to get work done and be productive.
Once you have everything you need, zone your workspace and arrange your home office based on your needs. For example, organize supplies and files to make space for your computer and room to review documents. Ensure what you use most is at arm’s length. Creating zones for your work and what you need throughout the day will result in an efficient workspace and clean desk.
Choose the best time to organize. Part of being the most productive when you organize is choosing the best time. You won’t get very much done if you’re distracted by the kids’ homework or your favorite TV show. Choose a time of day you can dedicate 100 percent to organizing. No multitasking!
Also, schedule a clutter attack. We all tend to hold onto paper, because we might need it someday. But I’ll bet you never look at 99 percent of it twice. Bills more than one year can go, but keep tax forms and receipts for seven years. Of course, remember to shred papers that contain confidential information.
Don’t forget your email either. While papers take up physical space, you don’t want to neglect the digital space that files can take up on your computer. Go through files and delete what you don’t need, make folders and subfolders to easily find what you need and consider making shortcuts to save time getting where you need to go.
Use colors. Throwing papers in a pile will slow you down when you’re trying to find what you need. Create categories of files and assign a color to each group. For example, blue for budgets and red for expenses. This will speed up the time that it takes you to find something.
- PURGE: Get rid of outdated information you no longer need or know you won’t reference in the future.
- PLAN: Map out your new organization system and list any equipment you’ll need, such as a new shredder or printer for your home office, filing cabinets and supplies.
- PURCHASE: Buy only what you need. This means only purchase what you need at the time. Stocking up too much will result in excess clutter around your home office.
- PUT: Store items and file papers into their new homes. Every item should have a home, so when you need to find something you don’t waste time looking for what you need.
- PLACE: Get new items ready and in the right place. Label files with your label maker, put the hanging folders in the drawers and get set up.
Another great way to stay organized is at the end of each day, take five minutes to write down what you need to accomplish the following day and prioritize your list. When you wake up the next morning, you will have a jumpstart on your day and know what tasks you need to tackle first!
This story was originally published April 15, 2016. It has been updated with new information.