Do you work from home? If you do, you probably know by now that the distractions of everyday life can be a real challenge to productivity.
But did you know that the state of your workspace can also weigh on your ability to get things done? It’s true.
A cluttered, disorganized workspace can really bog you down. You spend too much time searching for things you need, trying to find a place to put things, etc., time that could be much better spent meeting your client’s needs.
Here’s how you can clear the decks and get your home office running smoothly.
1. Reduce the paper clutter.
Despite the trend of moving toward a paperless society, the reality is that running a business almost always involves a certain measure of paper clutter.
The first thing to do is sort through those stacks of paper that are surrounding you. Ask yourself: Do I really still need this? Will I ever need to refer back to it? Toss the things you don’t need and file the rest.
Create a filing system based on how you would search for things.
Would you look by client name? By date? By some other method? Organize your files by how you think.
Moving forward, do what you can to reduce paper clutter. Before you print something, consider whether it really needs to be printed or whether it can be filed electronically. Emails, for example, don’t typically need to be printed (unless you need to include the contents in a physical file).
2. Keep your business separate.
Another pitfall of working from home is the almost inevitable melding of your business life and your home life.
Be sure your family members know that your work area is your domain, and they are to keep their toys, phone chargers, books, etc. outside of your office space. This will dramatically cut down on your clutter.
Designating your office solely for work purposes will reduce distractions and help keep you on task.
3. Put your phone away.
You probably need your phone to do your job, but the truth is that your smartphone can be a huge distraction from your job, too.
Instead of keeping it within arm’s reach all the time, set your phone in a designated location and only check it at designated times throughout the day. If you pick up your phone every time you get a notification, you’ll do nothing else all day.
4. Divide and conquer.
Running an office requires lots of supplies, but not everything is used regularly. In the run of an average day, you’ll probably use pens, Post-It notes, your planner, your business cards, and perhaps a notepad.
Other things, like your stapler, envelopes, and paper clips are used less often.
Cut down on the amount of “stuff” on your desk by keeping to hand those things that are used regularly and putting those lesser-used items away in a drawer. A less-cluttered desk space will foster more creativity.
5. Clean out your computer.
Think of your computer desktop as a virtual desktop in a real sense. Although you can’t clutter your virtual desktop with paper and pens, there can be visual clutter with too many icons on it.
File documents you’ll need later, and recycle things you don’t need. Your newly streamlined desktop will make it easier to find what you need and you’ll subconsciously work more efficiently when there is less visual clutter.
6. Put things away.
One of the biggest reasons an office space gets cluttered so easily is because we don’t take the time to put things away. Impose the “touch something once” rule in your office.
Under this rule, when something comes into the office (a new file, a piece of mail, more supplies) designate a spot for them and put them there. When you create piles of things to deal with later, you’ll soon be overwhelmed with clutter.
Clean things up!
Finally, give your office a thorough cleaning. A fresh, clean workspace can do wonders for your frame of mind and, as a result, your productivity.