(kind of just like Glamour magazine, only…not really)
A 2010 survey conducted by Brother U.S.A. (those folks that make the cool label-makers) indicates that an estimated 38 working hours per person per year are lost as a result of looking for misplaced items. That’s like, a whole work week. If you’re just starting your business, getting inspired to reorganize your current space, or working towards an efficient home office setup, think through the following list as you’re sorting and arranging – you’ll save yourself time, money and stress:
1. DON’T stack things. Piles of magazines, books, and paperwork will just continue to grow until you haven’t the foggiest notion of what’s there from the middle down.
2. DO use vertical space. Use file folders and an incline file sorter to house your bills, receipts, networking, action items, etc. LABEL the files. Put the file sorter in a central location so you can't miss it. Place magazines and books upright on bookcases or holders so that you can easily read the spines. Purge magazines older than three months (unless they are professional journals you are SURE you’re going to refer to again). Better yet, see if the information is available online and ditch a few subscriptions.
3. DON’T sit in a poorly lit space. Lack of light is hard on your eyes, and makes you groggy and unproductive.
4. DO situate your desk near a window, if possible. If your only light source is fluorescent, bring in an incandescent lamp for your desk. Even better, invest in an Ott Lite, which provides glare-free lighting for desk and other close up work. Originally created for sewers, knitters, etc., Ott now offers several desk lamp options: http://www.ott-lite.com/
5. DON’T write your passwords down on paper or in a notebook. Please. Don't. I actually saw a notebook in a store recently that had “My Passwords” stamped in gold on the front. Yikes – why not just post them on your Facebook timeline for everyone to see? It’s just too easy for someone to pick up and use, particularly if you have any traffic from the outside in your home office.
6. DO invest your time in installing a password manager like LastPass (https://lastpass.com, free or premium versions). I’ve yakked about LastPass before, but I really love it. LastPass stores your passwords in a “vault”, creates unique new passwords for logins, and even stores information to autofill online ordering forms. If a password manager seems intimidating, at the very least put the passwords in a secure file in Evernote or on your phone.
7. DON’T get excited and buy tons of extra supplies. I don’t care if dry erase markers ARE on sale BOGO at the office supply store – there will always be other sales and coupons, and those extra markers will do no good if they dry up before you ever even open the package. Not only does buying too much waste money, it takes up valuable space.
8. DO try putting all of the items on and near your desk in a printer paper box (or box of similar size). For one week, track which items you pull from the box to use most frequently, and how much you use. This method will give you a good idea of what your true needs are. Make a list, calendar regular visits to the store, and buy only what you need for a month to six weeks. Use a closet or storage cabinet for some extra supplies, and arrange them so that they can be easily labeled and viewed.
9. DON’T place items in awkward spots. Don’t put the shredder away from arm’s reach. Don’t put your printer on a shelf that you have to leave your chair to access. Many…no, make that MOST people just don’t stop to consider office equipment arrangement, but putting some thought into it makes a difference.
10. DO consider your height, any physical limitations, and whether you are left- or right-handed when you set up your space. Why put your pencil cup on the right if you’re a lefty? Make things easy for yourself. Having to stop what you are doing to find or reach something breaks your concentration and momentum.
And finally, if you’re working from home, make sure the other wonderful people that live with you know and understand that your office space is YOURS. If the kids absolutely have to share your computer, give them their own profile and box of supplies (again, labeled) so that they don’t end up taking or breaking your thoughtfully organized stash.
You will spend a lot of time in this space, so why not make it as pleasant and easy to work in as possible? If you want to learn more about Brother’s “Cost of Disorganization” survey, here’s the link: http://www.brother-usa.com/ptouch/meansbusiness/#.Uk1iwbyE7M0
Sara Skillen - Certified Professional Organizer®, Certified Organizer Coach®, wife, mom, dog-lover, author. Learning to trust my intuition more every day. Shall we work together?