If you lead a particularly busy life, you know that the simplest things bring the greatest amount of joy. Clearing the kitchen counter by the end of the week feels akin to winning a gold medal. Getting laundry folded and put away in the same day deserves a million high fives. Finally filing the paperwork on your desk should count as an automatic Nobel Prize nomination. These little wins are great when they occur at work or at home. But what if work is at home? Is it possible to organize your home office so that it eliminates the likelihood that other distractions and responsibilities will creep into your work day?
Of course it is.
These eight tips from MakeSpace will help you effectively maximize the productivity of your home office space. Because no one took home the top prize for Finished Paying Bills Before Everyone Got Home From School without a bit of planning first.
- Reconsider the layout
If your desk has been pushed to the side to make way for toys and games, it’s time to reclaim your workspace.
First, give your desk a prominent spot in the room. Arrange additional seating for easy collaboration with visitors, and provide ample light around the area. If you need frequent access to paperwork, keep the file cabinets closeby. If not, organize them all against one wall so they’re systemized but not imposing on the rest of the room. Or implement this filing-seating combo from Martha Stewart, which provides additional seating and a filing system in one.
Plan the layout of your office around common daily tasks. Don’t compromise the space’s potential by letting distracting extras creep into the room.
- Add some color to the walls
Color drastically impacts our emotions and can make or break our productivity. White walls aren’t doing you any favors in either department. Research links green to creativity and blue to concentration. Red can be good for positivity, power, and stimulation, but is best in small doses to prevent overwhelming you or the space. At the end of the day, if yellow is known to be a bit flashy and distracting, but your favorite color is yellow, paint your office yellow. Enjoying your environment overrules the hindrances of color psychology every time.
- Employ the two-tray system
(source: Beauty and the Chic)
Paper clutter accumulates quickly and can make ever seeing a bare desktop again seem like a mere pipe dream. If you feel like you’ve lost the battle against invoices, unpaid bills, and permission slips, you need the two-tray system. A super simple way of keeping incoming paper in control, the system works like this:
- New documents are put in the first tray. If it’s unopened or unread, it goes here. Things from this tray can be incorporated into your daily to-do list to be dealt with, but they shouldn’t leave the tray until you have time to undertake the task.
- Old documents move to the second tray. If you’ve opened or looked at it, but have yet to scan, file, or forward it, it remains here. Once you’re ready to handle the task in its entirety, the document can be removed.
You should attempt to have both trays cleared by the end of every week. If a piece of paper can survive more than seven days without being dealt with (minus important documents like financial records or receipts), you probably don’t need it at all.
- Digitize your paperwork
Take paper decluttering even further and digitize it all. There are very few documents you need to maintain a physical copy of, so determine which pieces of paper you absolutely must keep, and create digital copies of the rest. Organizer Pierrette Ashcroft recommends scanning receipts with a portable scanner such as NeatReceipts, which comes with software that takes information on a receipt and subtotals it to make life much easier come Tax Day.
- Keep everyday items within arm’s reach
Sit at your desk and reach directly out in front of you. Can you easily grab the tools you use every day? Are your tape dispenser, stapler, notepad, pen, and phone charger easily accessible? Great. Are a three hole punch and pile of USB drives taking up space? Relocate them to a desk drawer. There’s no reason to clutter the area with unnecessary items, so streamline the surface to maximize daily productivity.
- Label it all
(source: Martha Stewart)
It’s almost impossible to lose track of the important stuff when it’s labeled. Navigating your workspace when everything has a home becomes a much quicker and easier process. Clearly label shelves, files, bins, baskets, and drawers, organizing each one in a way that makes sense to you personally. An office that’s set up based on a photo in a magazine is aesthetically pleasing, but one that is sensible for the person working in it on a daily basis functions much more efficiently.
- DIY a dry erase board
(source: Two Twenty One)
Jotting down reminders and messages on scraps of paper works in the moment. It’s the next moment, when those notes mysteriously disappear (seriously, they were right here!) that don’t work for your work life. Instead of constantly making lists and misplacing them, create a practical dry erase board, like this one from Two Twenty One. It’s considerably more difficult to lose a DIY dry erase board made of an 8×10 picture frame and some adorable patterned masking tape. Plus, it’s easy to actually look forward to your to-do list when it’s presented to you so beautifully.
- Corral the cables
A mess of wires is unsightly at best, and a hazard at worst. In the event of an electrical snafu, weaving your way through a tangle of cables can be incredibly frustrating, and becomes even more so when you realize the chaos could’ve been avoided. To reduce the number of cables in your way, use as many wireless devices as you can — you can connect your mouse, keyboard, and printer all via Bluetooth. If you don’t mind being plugged in but simply want to reduce the clutter, try a a USB hub, which lets you connect multiple devices to your computer with a single USB cable. When you take care of it all, being prepared for an impromptu conference call is just as important as turning your attention to someone’s skinned knee.
An organized workspace lets you handle whatever the day throws at you and then get back to business.
If you need a little help finding the bottom of the pile, call MakeSpace. They’ll pick up any items you don’t currently have a use for, store them, and deliver them back when you need them, so you can transform your home office into a productivity hub. Serving NYC, DC, LA, and Chicago, they’re the innovative storage solution that makes taking back your workspace a breeze.