Tips for Organizing your Home Business Office Space

by WorkFromHome on September 24, 2011

As a successful business owner, emails, paperwork, receipts, and appointment sheets are a part of daily life for you. If you are a sole-proprietor or are exclusively in charge of all aspects of your business, it can be very easy to become disorganized even if you have the best of intentions on staying clutter-free. A cluttered desk, email inbox, and file box equals a stressed and cluttered mind. If you are constantly misplacing paperwork, missing deadlines or phone calls, and it is beginning to affect your business, it is time to gain control and get organized. With a few simple tricks, tips, and very little time or effort, you can keep your work space free of clutter and papers.

  1. Take control of your email inbox. In any given day, a home business professional will send and receive up to 100 emails per day. If you are not on top of organizing emails as they come in, it can be very easy to get behind and end up with a cluttered inbox. When you have time, on the weekend or after your workday, spend a couple of hours creating individual file folders within your email inbox and sending emails to their coordinating folders.

    If you have an online auction business, for example, you could create folders for vendor emails, customer correspondence, and inventory emails. If you run an online survey business, you could have separate folders for each survey company you belong to and move invitations into their respective folders as you complete them. As you receive new emails each day, immediately address them and either delete them, flag them for follow-up, or send them to their respective folders.

  2. If you often lose track of time or need help increasing your productivity, set a timer. Using your laptop battery charge or kitchen timer as a method of accountability always increases productivity. If you have recently found yourself distracted, disorganized, and falling behind on work tasks, agree to either finish or complete as much as you can in a designated period of time. When the buzzer rings or the laptop “low battery” icon flashes, the project or work is over. This method works great when you have a large organizational project. Breaking up the task into smaller timed sessions makes the job much easier to tackle.
  3. Implement your ABC’s. Although it may be basic and fundamental, most people do not alphabetize their work files. Often, purchase orders are found mixed in with retail purchase receipts and correspondence letters from business associates. Not only can this impede your day-to-day work environment, but can take weeks to sort through when tax time approaches. Thinking of all the aspects of your home business or work from home job, purchase an abundance of simple hanging file folders for filing cabinets or manila-style folders if you prefer to keep your files more readily accessible. Label and organize each file and vow to keep only the designated items in each folder. You can color code files, if this helps you, as well.

    For maximum organization, it is always best to keep one type of item in each file folder, but you need to do what works best for you and your business. Alphabetizing and color coding, however, will benefit every business model.

  4. Instead of using sticky tabs and loose slips of paper to jot down important information on a phone call or extract key bits of information from an email, keep a spiral notebook handy instead. It is much easier to lose a small slip of paper than it is to lose a large notebook. As issues or concerns are addressed, cross them off in the notebook. Keep your notebook accessible and in your line of vision, along with your daily calendar, so that you will subconsciously reach for it when on an important phone call.

Although many of the mentioned tips and tricks are quite second-nature, very few home business owners implement them regularly or incorporate them into their workday. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the core of your business and neglect the organizational aspects because for most business owners, you get no special recognition and certainly no increase in salary for being neat and tidy. The truth is, the time you spend sifting through a cluttered email inbox and digging through a disheveled filing cabinet to look for an important piece of information is time you could be spending working.

In reality, a disorganized space can actually eat into your profit margin and cost you to lose money; your disorganization can also cause you to lose clients or customers as a result of missed appointments or delayed shipments. Your office space is a direct reflection of what you think of your business; treat it with dignity and respect.

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