Home Office Tips

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Do you know the proper way to store love letters?

How to store paper.

Do you know the proper way to store your possessions? Did you know that all of your papers that you want to keep, newspapers, magazines, old love letters, new love letters, and the flower you pressed when you were 13…should be in acid free—archival storage boxes? You can buy them at art stores…and they come in various sizes and colors. You can buy one for each paper item you want to store. I have storage boxes for alot of things I keep. They are great for keeping old newspapers and newspaper clippings, because the paper does not yellow. I also have a few acid-free boxes for my favorite magazines, especally first edition magazines that I collect. I also have boxes for my favorite cards,Playbills from Broadway Shows and other very personal items I don't want ruined. It's especially wonderful for love letters and other letters you never want to throw away. It's also a great way to organize between items you want to keep and items that can be thrown away.

How often should I throw old papers away?

Purge Weekly

Purge items once a week. Usually at the end of the week, take the time to shred and throw away any unnecessary paperwork.

Keep in mind that you always want to keep financial documents for five to seven years. However, any other files that do not contain pertinent information to your business or personal finances should be tossed each week. A shredding machine would be perfect for this purpose as it properly destroys documents and important papers. There are large shredders as well as smaller ones if you don't have papers to shred on a regular basis.

Different brands have different amenities, so the best way to choose the one for you is to peruse your local office supply store and have an employee demonstrate for you how several different types work.

I've bought the folders and the file cabinet...now what do I do?

When your ready to get really organized.

Most organized people have a file cabinet. Get your files ready. These are some of the file names you should have.

1. Driving Directions folder.
Create a file folder for Driving Directions to places you
go to infrequently. Write down the directions and keep them
in this folder for future use. You won't have to keep
asking how to get to where you're going.

2. Warranties. Please don't be on of those families that have their warranties in every room of the house and when a product breaks—can't find the warranty. Make a file folder…make two or three of them if need be. But, keep all of your warranties together. And, if you are like me and get tired of an electronic and want to sell it or give it away—you know where the information is about that item. Makes you look real organized to all of your friends too.

3. Write your current job title on one file folder and put everything that pertains to your job in that folder. At work I have a folder titled “Me” and everything that I feel I need to know about goes in that file. I also have a file folder marked Reading. It's everything I know I need to read and when I have a few minutes of time—I check that file and start reading.

What should I do to organize my home office space at the end of the day?

Home Office Organization

At the end of each day, organize your home office space. Even if you sift your important papers into small piles to be filed later, the clutter will be more manageable if you simply organize things before you finish in your office for the day.

Put office supplies in their proper places, throw away any unnecessary pieces of paper, empty your trash bin and tidy up your office space. This simple act of home office organization will enable to you to walk away from your home office space with a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.


Your Home Office Filling System Doesn't Have to Be Unsightly

The other day I went to the house of a person who was starting their own home business. We were discussing marketing and advertising opportunities they should take advantage of and the gentleman showed me into his home office, which was actually his living room. The first thing I noticed was the big and unsightly old metal filing cabinet sitting right next to his couch.

Whether you're starting a home business or you've been around the block before, there's one thing you need to understand when it comes to home office filing systems -- what works in a corporate office may not necessarily work in your home. While big and bulky metal filing cabinets may be just fine in the back room of an accounting department, they have no place in your living space. There are dozens of attractive filing systems on the market nowadays and you'd be better off with decorative expandable files or filing cabinets that double as coffee tables and end tables. Remember, just because you're building a business in your home it doesn't mean you should have to sacrifice the beauty of your living environment.

What is the most efficient way to organize all of the files in my home office?

Color-Code Home Office Files

Color-code your files. Your desk in your home office should house a drawer, or an entire cabinet, for filing purposes with multi-colored folders with easy-to-read tabs to file papers.

This is an easy system for filing information that will allow you to locate files at a moment's notice and is one of the easiest methods of organization for your home office. Divide your files into ones that require you to do something and those that are kept simply for reference.

Make a small chart of which colors represent a certain type of file. This point-of-reference will assist you in locating important papers and for organization purposes of your home office, will keep you efficient..

What is a good scheduling method for me?

Calendar Options

There are several different options to use for scheduling important dates. Choosing more than one can help keep you organized and efficient and you will always have a back up for remembering important dates.

*Keep a desk calendar. Even if you have a day planner, computer organizer, and other means of keeping a schedule, a desk calendar is the perfect way to have your appointments in your face every day. When the calendar sits on your desk, you will look at it each time you sit down at your desk in your home office, which will help to be sure to keep important appointments.

*A scheduler on your cellular phone or computer can alert you to important appointments at a set time, such as 30 minutes or an hour before you are supposed to be at a meeting or appointment. Take advantage of this as it can alert you to the day's schedule no matter how busy your day gets.

How can I make sure I keep my filing system going?

Home Filing Tips

Once you have your files, you may get frustrated if you have trouble reading your handwriting or deciding how to group your files.

A couple of home filing tips:

  • First, consider getting an inexpensive label maker. Not only will typed labels be easier to read, they are often larger in size and add some rigidity to your file tabs. This may sound funny, but keeping those tabs upright and flat will make a huge difference in finding and keeping your files.
  • Second, consider grouping your files in something other than alphabetical order. Maybe group utilities, mortgages, and car expenses into their own sections.
  • Third, if you have space constraints, consider having a primary filing cabinet and a secondary group of files. Keep the files you rarely access out in your garage or in your attic and keep the files you need close at hand in your home office area.

What is the best way store items in my home office?

Storage Is Key in a Home office

Appoint specific storage areas within the realm of your home office. Standing paper files should on your desk for files that you are working with currently.

Purchase several clear storage bins with lids to stack around your office for older files, electronic back-ups (such as CDs and zip disks) and other miscellaneous items essential to your home office. The clear bins, along with a label for each one, will help you to determine where items are so that you can access them quickly. File organization is key to your level of efficiency, so take great care to be as organized as possible.

How can I keep track of household papers?

Separate Household/Work Papers

Keep your household papers and bills separate from work you do at home, be it from your full-time job or freelance work.

Maintain two sides of your desk, with one for bills, invoices, and other important household papers and one for work purposes.

Hanging files are a perfect method of file organization for this purpose and they provide a way to file papers separately without making your desk area look messy and unorganized. Shelving also works good for this purpose. Keep two sets of shelves on each end of your desk, with different-colored coating on each one, to keep track of which papers go where.

Where should I begin in planning my home office?

Plan Home Office Space

Plan ahead. Most people do not anticipate enough space when they are planning for their home office. You must be sure to have enough phone jacks and electrical outlets to meet the needs of your various pieces of office equipment, including your computer, fax machine, telephone, printer, scanner, copier, etc.

You should be sure to leave yourself enough room on your desk for a workspace as well as places to store paper, office supplies, files and more. The most common reason for a cluttered, unmanageable workspace is not planning for everything to have its own individual space. Home office furniture should be chosen with care and planned for the size of the space.

Where do I start with my home filing system?

Home Filing 101

The mail has stacked up, the paper has taken over your office and the boxes and bags of receipts are piled mile high. Where the heck do you start?

One bag at a time! Set yourself up in a big room with an empty floor and start shuffling paper into different piles.

Organize according to:

  • Type of bill
  • Year of bill
  • Type of receipt etc.

Then begin your files. You can color code if that is your thing, or stick to plain manila. Label your files clearly and simply. Finally make sure you have someplace to store your new system. Pick up a filing cabinet at a yard sale or head to your local office supply store and grab some filing crates. The crates are colorful, sturdy and cheap - and if you ultimately upgrade to a filing cabinet, you can use them for shoes!

How can I choose the right desk for my home office?

Using Your Desk

When you decide it is time to organize your home office, one of the most important things to consider if you have enough space. Many people are opting for office armoires or space saving smaller desks, but this elimination of desk surface working space can really be counter productive. Yes, in some cases, the more space you have, the more you will use, but if you want to get organized, having sufficient working space and keeping it clean is part of the drill.

A quick office organization tip: choose the right desk! First, make sure your desk has a keyboard drawer - this will preserve the space in front of the computer for papers, notebooks etc. Second, consider a corner oriented desk or a taller desk depending on the space you have to use. Finally, keep your computer tower under your desk. As long as you keep the PC free of dust, no harm will come to your tower and you will free up valuable desk space.

How can I customize my office furniture to enhance my home office organization?

Make Yourself Comfortable

Office furniture is the key to home office organization. You need the right shelving and accessories to keep all of your paperwork and office equipment organized and in good shape.

In many cases you can find stackable shelving units that can be customized for a smaller or larger office space. Additionally, you can find shelving specifically designed for corners, which can be very valuable in awkward spaces.

A smart office furniture tip: you will enjoy spending time in your office if you are comfortable so make sure you don't skimp on your office chair. Choose one that is comfortable and supportive. Also make sure you have good lighting and that you choose furniture that ergonomically fits your body. By making yourself comfortable, you are making your work at home more comfortable.

What kind of desk should I choose for my home office?

Choosing Your Home Office Furniture

Choosing a desk for your home office is the key to having an efficient workspace and the essential piece of home office furniture.

An L-shaped desk is best because it lends itself to easy ergonomic design and keeps everything around you within reach. This design also allows you to have your computer on one portion of the desk and another portion as your workspace. This is the piece of home office furniture you should take the most care in choosing because it dictates what the rest of your home office decor will be.

This will help you to maintain a sense of order in your home office desk area.

How can I make using my laptop in out of my home office more comfortable?

Getting Organized on Your Couch

No matter how organized and clutter free your desk may be, there will often be a night you would rather have your laptop on the couch in front of the TV. There is nothing wrong with giving yourself a break from your office, just make sure you do it right!

Yes, a laptop is just that, for your lap, but the computer may not be at the right height for your back and neck, you may not have the right lighting in your TV room and laptops can get hot and uncomfortable on your lap.

How about a lighted lap desk? These are cool because they have foam for your legs and a firm surface for your computer. They even have a light attached to keep your screen on your bills well lit. No matter how you get your bills organized and paid, just get them organized and paid!

Where should I put my bookcase in my home office?

Properly Anchor Bookcases

A large bookcase is a great addition to your home office. It is a great place to store books, large files and more. If you want to add a cheerful, colorful element to your spread of home office furniture, paint your bookcase a calming pastel or deep rich color in contrast with what is usually brown, white or black office furniture.

The bookcase should anchor the room, going either on the far end of the room or closer to the door. When places towards the middle of the room, specifically for larger bookcases, it will act as a divider and disrupt the look and overall decor of your home office.

What kind of storage unit can help me organize my bills?

Finding the Right Filing Cabinet

If you are not great with sorting mail and going through bills as they come in, you may just be lacking the right storage unit to keep you honest. A lot of us hate paying the bills, but when everything is a scattered, stacked and disorganized mess, it is an even more daunting task.

There are home file organization solutions out there! For instance, how about a large rolling storage cabinet? You can stow it in the corner when you aren't using it, and roll it out when you need to go through the bills and send off your mail.

By centralizing your paper trail and your mail, you make it easier for yourself to stay on top of the paper before it piles up. Once you finish your sorting and paying, file everything and voila! Home filing organization at your fingertips.

How much financial paperwork do I really need to keep on hand?

Online Banking and Your Home Filing

Most of us try to keep our financial records intact for as many years as possible, but nowadays, with electronic filing, banking and paying bills online, how much paper do we need to keep?

You should always back up your electronic records with hard copy. Just as you always want to print your electronic tax return, print our monthly electronic statements and receipts of payment. As much as it is easier to depend on your credit card company or utility company to provide a payment history, you should always back up your activities with your own copies.

What is the best way to choose a chair for my home office?

Choosing a Home Office Chair

The proper office chair is equally as important as having the right desk. While there are many catalogs for this type of purchase, this key piece of home office furniture is best chosen by actually trying out different chairs. You want to make sure that your office chair gives you proper ergonomic support and is comfortable and convenient. If you have wood or tile floors, a chair with wheels can help you roll around your office to different spots with ease. For carpeted home office floors, a stationary chair with rotating options for the chair body and arms is best.

Stop by several office supply or home office furniture stores and try out different office chairs to find the one that suits you best.

Where can I find extra storage space in my home office?

Use All the Space You Can

Don't forget the closet!

Too often your home office is in a spare bedroom and the closet in that bedroom has not been integrated into your overall office plan. If you have that closet stuffed with old clothes and junk, empty it out and use the space!

Make sure you think outside of the box - in other words don't keep the clothing bar in the closet, get some shelving and baskets that work with your business or home office supplies. Consider keeping equipment like your copier or printer in the closet as well - whatever you can do to conserve your working space and make sure you have room to do what you need to do. Consider integrating your filing system into the closet as well - keep the decks clear and watch your stress level plummet!

How can I eliminate messy wires and improve my home office organization?

Going Wireless

Wire clutter can be just as aggravating as paper clutter. If you want to eliminate clutter like this, consider going wireless!

Not only is a secure wireless network a great idea for working in your home office or on your couch, you can use wireless for your desktop as well. Get a wireless mouse and keyboard and other than your power cable, you are cable free!

A great home office organization tip: If you have more than one computer in your home and you have a network, wireless networking is the key to keeping organized and offering flexible options for your PC placement. You won't be constrained by how far your cables stretch and you won't need to worry about having someone in to wire your home. Just hook up the WiFi and you are ready to roll.

What do I do with all the bills and paperwork I want to throw away?

A Shredder can be Your Best Friend

As you go through your bills and old receipts, chances are that you are going to come across a ton of paper you really don't need any more. It is always better to be safe than sorry, but there's nothing wrong with ditching your old credit card offers or other junk mail.

In many cases, what you really want to have on hand is a shredder. Any old bills, receipts or credit card offers you get should be shredded. With identity theft becoming a more and more prevalent issue, protect yourself by shredding any documents that may be sensitive. Also, if you send a lot of mail or packages, you can use the shredded paper as packing material - it's almost as good as styrofoam peanuts and a lot cheaper!

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Guru Spotlight
Sherril Steele-Carlin