How to Organize an Efficient Home Office

Ergonomics, lighting, organization and effective use of space turn a common home office into an efficient workspace. Invest in your space to boost your profitability.

I run my business out of my home office, as do my clients and many of my Ezine readers. When I set up my first home office I discovered that it's not as easy as plopping my computer on a makeshift table and buying a few file cabinets. Setting up a comfortable, functional home office is important to the success of your business. Many of us spend more time in our office than we do in other areas of our home (at least I do!), and it can quickly become frustrating and uncomfortable without the proper organization and ergonomic tools.

So what can you do to make your office more organized and efficient?

1. Invest in a comfortable, ergonomic chair. If you spend all day in your office chair like I do, you've probably already discovered that after just a couple short hours, your back starts to ache if you don't have a great chair. Go ahead, spend the money...your back will thank you!

2. Make efficient use of the space you have. I don't have a very big office -- it's a 9' x10' spare bedroom. But I've learned to use all the space I have. The closet, which houses all my office supplies, is filled with shelves from floor to ceiling. I have an L-shaped workstation that fills up most of the office, but everything I need is within close reach.

I have one large file cabinet plus two lateral files for all my hanging files. Next to my work area on either side are 6 drawers (3 on each side). These drawers hold everything I need to have nearby - client files, stapler, pens, and all the all the little stuff I like to hide in a drawer.

My immediate work area has just what I need to have within easy reach - computer, printer, calculator, notepad, and phone. I can reach up above my workspace to grab an envelope or paper to fill the printer. Reference manuals and my client's books are on the shelves just above my workspace. To the left are shelves for 3- ring binders, which hold business files and reports.

3. Stop working in the dark! My office used to have a pathetic little fixture with two 60 watt soft lights. I do have a bright light over my computer screen and I even have a window next to my desk, but it just wasn't enough. I wanted more light! So I finally found some terrific lights at my local hardware store that made a HUGE difference. Check out the new "Daylight" energy saving bulbs. The Daylight bulbs actually simulate natural light and are much brighter than the regular soft light bulbs.

I also invested in a ceiling fan, which helps with air circulation in my little office. Not to mention I can fit 4 of those amazing new bulbs in the light fixture. I'm in bright light heaven

4. Organize your files. There are many ways to organize your files, so you need to decide which method works best for you. Most VA's I've talked to use a color-coded file system, which is what I do. It's so much easier to find things when they're color- coded, rather than having a sea of plain green hanging files.

If you have piles of paper on your desk awaiting action, or just waiting to be filed, then set aside one day (or half-day) a week to focus on filing and organizing your office. As you go through your piles, sort into three piles: Toss It - File It - Do It.
Guess what you do with the "Toss It" pile? If the papers have been there long enough, chances are some of them are no longer needed. Take the "File It" pile and file the papers in the proper place. And finally, work your way through the "Do It" pile by taking action on those items.

Once you're all caught up, you either need to deal with the paper immediately or continue to schedule time each week so you can tackle the paper.

Setting up an efficient home office may seem daunting at first, but you can take it just one step at a time. Before you know it you'll be prepared for new opportunities that come your way and ready to meet any challenges head on.

By Jean Hanson

Average: 4 (1 vote)

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