Home Office Organization

How To Organize a Home Office

The two most important words when you’re organizing your home office are comfort and function. You want your home office to be comfortable and inviting.

The more you want to be in your home office, the more you will be in there (hopefully) getting work done.

As for function, you don’t want to make working at home more difficult than working in an office – it’s supposed to be more convenient.

Your office should actually by more functional than one outside of the home because all of the decisions are up to you. When you find something inconvenient, you don’t have to ask permission or fill out a suggestion form. You simply change it.

Organizing your home office to emphasize comfort and function is easier than you might think.

Don’t Forget Ergonomics

Too many people try to save money by using the cheapest office furniture they can find. Bargains are great, but not if your business suffers. If you sit in front of your computer for hours every day, you need to make sure that your desk and chair are comfortable and don’t add to back, neck or eye strain.

The proper chair should be padded and adjustable. Your chair should have wheels for easy moving and repositioning. Put down a plastic chair mat to protect your carpet or flooring.

When you sit at your chair, you should be able to easily reach your keyboard at a normal and comfortable level. You should be able to see your monitor without raising or lowering your head. The middle of your monitor should be at eye level as you sit.

Before going any further, make sure you are preventing strain by adjusting your chair, keyboard, and monitor. If you need to be higher in your chair, but your chair isn’t adjustable, invest in some firm pillows or foam pads to give you some lift.

If your monitor doesn’t adjust higher, get a monitor stand. Organizing your basic computer position will help you be more comfortable as you work, which will make you more productive.

Top 10 Home Office Mistakes

Most people make the same mistakes when organizing a home office. Most of the mistakes are due to too many home magazines and shows that want your home office to easily convert to a stylish guest room or family playroom. Yes, you want your home to look nice, but you also want enough room to be able to use your office as an office, instead of trying to camouflage it as an office! Learn from others who have made these common mistakes:

  1. Armoires or foldaway computer desks don’t give you enough space and are too much work to constantly open and close.
  2. Filing cabinets are necessary. They are available in hundreds of styles, so not buying one to keep the room from looking like an “office” is silly.
  3. Stuffing yourself into a corner, a closet, or another small space is a mistake. Your mess will spill over into the rest of the room, and you won’t feel comfortable when you work.
  4. If you’re lucky enough to have an entire room for your office, beware of buying the giant desk. You should have enough room to work on your computer and another space for writing. Anything bigger and you’ll end up with space to clutter.
  5. A supply closet is essential. You need a place to store extra paper, pens, post-it notes, etc. If you can use the closet in the room, get a plastic organizer and store it on a shelf. If you don’t have a lot of space, use an empty drawer of your desk or your filing cabinet. Another good idea is a printer or fax stand with drawers or cupboards for storage.
  6. Organize your home office for how you use it, not for the way it looks. Putting your printer on the other side of the room for “balance” is not convenient. Don’t spend time making professional looking labels for your files that no one sees but you.
  7. Don’t set up your home office in a common room used by other family members. This is perhaps the most common mistake, and it saps productivity. Your office time needs to be serious work time. Explain the importance to your kids so they understand that when mommy or daddy is in there, they are not to be disturbed. You’ll get a lot more done in a shorter amount of time.
  8. Keep wires organized. This seems like a simple thing, but many home office users fail to do it. The problem is one of safety, but also of convenience. You’ll undoubtedly be adding and replacing new equipment all the time. Organized wires, bundled together with plastic ties (or specialty wire organizing tools), make your life a lot easier.
  9. Keep the most used items within arms reach. This is one of the keys to proper office organization, and it’s one many home office users never get right. Arrange and re-arrange everything until you can keep the phone, fax, computer, and things like pens and paperclips all within about a 6-foot diameter circle around your desk chair.
  10. Finally, use a system that works best for you. Don’t buy into an organization scheme you hear about from a friend or read about in a magazine. Recent studies have shown that some people just work better with what appears to be a messy work area. You’re not out to win an office beauty contest – you’re out to work productively and earn lots of money. Organization does not necessarily mean visually appealing.

Cut Back on Paperwork

If you find your desk covered in various invoices, receipts, faxes, and printed out emails, you just might be creating more work for yourself than what’s necessary. All of those papers have to be read (probably multiple times) and filed or thrown away.

Take advantage of technology. If you can do more of your business through email and online, why not take advantage of that? Invoicing customers by email saves you time, money, and mess. You can back everything up on a disc each month (buy discs with enough space to back up everything on one each month if possible), and then you just file the disc each month.

If your books are done by a professional and you keep paper records for him, you can probably stop that. Almost all accountants will accept discs or even file transfers through email or websites. Even courts of law now accept emails and other electronic records as evidence.

Back up your emails monthly, use email instead of faxes when possible, and fight the urge to make paper records of everything you do. You’ll discover office space you never knew you had, and you won’t waste valuable time.

Make Your Home Office Work for You

The point of any home office is to have a place within easy reach where you can get important things done – things that impact on your family’s well being, as well as your own. Treat it seriously.

Always keep the two main objectives in mind when getting better organized: comfort and functionality. It’s no good to be comfortable if you waste hours trying to find things you need to do the work. Likewise, it defeats the purpose to be rigidly organized in an environment that strains your body. The two concepts need to be complementary, not constantly at war with one another. Good luck.