Your office needs to be a place of productivity – a place of efficiency, of tools readily at hand, information well organised and accessible, of inspiration and accomplishment. No matter how large or small – in a towering corporate office or in your spare room at home – the office environment is key to the success of just about any business endeavours.
To get the most from your office space, I've decided to compile a few ideas I've learned from my own experience in organising my home office over the years. Hopefully they can help you as they've helped me to increase my productivity, sharpen my focus and better manage my time.
1. Establish a System of Organisation
This is the biggest thing! As simple as it seems, it is also the thing many people fail to adhere to effectively. The result is often a cluttered, messy office where things are difficult to find and easy to lose. Years ago I realised from my own day-to-day observations and also from reading some scientific studies that a clean environment enhances productivity. It is difficult to work in clutter, not only because it is hard to find things but also because of the psychological impact of a messy environment, which can inherently demotivate and distract.
The way to beat this is simple, but requires diligence! As soon as you setup your home office, make a place for everything. File all of your paper work in a way that is easy to get to, clean and unobtrusive. Keep everything as clutter-free as possible – pack away things you aren't using into drawers or cabinets which are designated spots for those items. Put your phone in a place where you don't have to search for it when it rings. If you remain diligent, everything will always be right where you put it and you will find work flow to be much, much smoother.
2. Keep a White Board
I don't know how I'd get along without my white board! I use one section to write out the days and the next days important tasks. Other sections are reserved for scribbling things quickly or plotting out new ideas if needed. Great for keeping myself in check with what needs doing, and also allows me to easily present ideas to anyone who might find themselves in my office.
3. Invest in Cord Management
There isn't an office in the modern world which doesn't have some kind of mess of cords. More than likely, you'll start out with several and find yourself adding more whenever you decide a new gizmo or another phone system will make office life a little easier. Start off early on with some cord management items, be they simple ties, plastic dividers or any of the other techniques used to keep your cords orderly. If you don't, entropy will rapidly turn your offices electronics cords into a tangled nightmare.
4. Clean Everyday
This goes hand-in-hand with my first tip. Once you've established a System of Organisation, you need to adhere to it daily. What this means for me is everyday once I've finished work, I put everything into its right place, file any loose documents and make sure everything is tidy and ready for work the next day.
But over time I've developed some strategies for minimising my post-work cleanup time. One great efficiency tip I picked up at a seminar many years ago is the idea of “only touch something once.” What this means for me is minimising my interaction with any object – if I'm interacting with it, I want to get it done completely, not leave it half-baked and still in need of future attention. This manifests itself in ways small in large: for cleaning, it means if I find myself holding a document, instead of setting it on my desk to cleanup latter, I'll just file it right away. Boom. Done. I don't have to worry about that again until it becomes relevant.
A home office is a wonderful thing. Take some time to really think about what you want to accomplish in the space and what the best routes to helping you realise that would be.