Making Your Home Office Work

The home office is becoming a permanent part of every American home. According to a study released last year by the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 21 percent of all employed persons report doing some or all of their work at home. Self-employed workers are logging even more hours at the home at 55 percent.

The question is how to make your home office work for you? A home office has its own unique set of challenges. It must be attractive, inviting, productive and make good use of space. Many people find it difficult to balance the utilitarian needs of an office with the aesthetic needs of home. Still others are challenged to find adequate office storage in a limited space. Here we describe five essential keys to make any home office work.

One: Clear out the excess
When I am called in to consult on a home office organization the number one problem I see is too much paper. It’s everywhere, overflowing the filing cabinets, piled up on desks and bulging out of storage boxes. The solution? Get rid of what you don’t need. 80 percent of the things we file we will never look at again, so why waste valuable storage space? Commit to going through all of the papers in your office. Ask yourself these questions: Will I ever need this document again? Can I access it somewhere else? What’s the worst thing that could happen if I don’t save this document? Keep what you need and get rid of the rest. Follow the same process with the rest of the “stuff” in your office. Here is an organizing secret: The less stuff you have, the easier it is to organize. Many people are surprised when I tell them that they do not need to invest in larger desks or more storage, they just need to clear out the excess clutter.

Two: Utilize your prime real estate
Be selective about what you keep in the general vicinity of your work space. This is your “prime real estate” and should be filled only with the items that you need on a regular basis. Keep the files that you access often within reach. Often times, when I am called in for organization help I see that my client is storing their files away from their main work area because of aesthetic or storage issues. This is a mistake. If files aren’t easy to access, you will not use them. This leads to paper pile up and an organization disaster. Move files you do not access often, for example, receipts and statements from past years, away from your immediate work area. The same holds true with your office supplies. Keep your most used items close at hand, move or remove the rest.

Three: Get comfortable
You cannot be productive if you are uncomfortable. Top priority, invest in a comfortable chair. There are many attractive and comfortable options available for under $100. Next, look at the placement of items and furniture as it relates to comfort and ease of use. Your computer screen should be at eye level, you should not have to reach up or down to type on the keyboard. If you are right handed, place your phone or other items you reach for often on your right side. Finally, make sure you have good lighting. A poorly lit workspace leads to eyestrain and headaches. Make sure your work area is well lit. If the overhead or natural lighting is poor in your office, add an attractive lamp. Your eyes will thank you.

Four: Make sure you’re fully stocked
Take a moment to think about the functions you perform in your home office. List the supplies you will need to perform each function. For example, if you pay bills you will need your checkbook, pen, envelopes, stamps etc. You cannot be productive if you have to leave your office and go to another room for something you need. Many office supply companies are catering to the home office by making attractive and functional office supplies.

Five: Add personal touches 오피
Many people want to focus on decorating their home office first. This, however, is the last step after eliminating clutter and making considerations for function and comfort. Another common misconception is that you will need to go out and buy new items for your office when in fact, many of the items you already own can be re-purposed. For example, move a piece of your favorite art or framed photo into your office, use an attractive vase as pen and pencil storage, or, re-purpose an existing piece of home furniture such as an end table bookshelf. Adding personal touches will go a long way to making your home office a cozy place where you want to spend time.

About: Erin Hoffman is a Productivity Specialist and the president of Optimum Productivity. She helps busy professionals and businesses save hours each week by showing them cost saving time and email strategies.