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Home Office 101

March 25, 2014

I recently was asked to speak to a group of about 50 employees who were being transitioned from a corporate office environment to working out of a home office. They were interested in where to begin in starting this next chapter of their lives. It occurred to me that many out there are finding themselves in new career choices that may involve setting up a home office. If you’ve found yourself in that position, or perhaps the set-up of the one you have needs reworked, then this is the blog for you!

Things to consider when setting up your home office include:

  • The layout of your work space: Did you know that “L” and “U” shaped desks are the most efficient work spaces? It’s best to break down your surface area into two–an “equipment wing” and a “free wing.” Be sure to have adequate indirect and direct lighting. Do not trust the recessed canned lighting in your ceiling to provide enough illumination to your tiny print paperwork! And, of course, be sure to have adequate storage room. A hutch or credenza are great homes for some office supplies and files. Last, but not least, remember to limit your number of personal items. The more “business” your home office is, the greater the opportunities for tax deductions!
  • Your attitude: Decide your office hours and stick to them! Are you a night owl? Maybe your hours will be 4:00pm-Midnight. Just be sure your hours take into consideration when your client/target audience is available as well. And while the thought of not needing to change from your jammies is an attractive idea for a lazy Saturday, do not pick up that habit for your office time. Dress to go to work…even if it’s simply switching into jeans and t-shirt, get dressed! As an aside, a recent study showed that we are much more efficient when we wear a sweater. Hello Mr. Rogers!
  • Office supplies: as Joan Rivers would say, “Can we talk?” Listen, warehouse stores may offer you an amazing deal on paper clips, but unless you are creating new garland for your Christmas tree, do you really need 5,000 clips on hand? Be realistic in what you will use over a 3-month period. Then when supplies are low, replenish, but don’t go crazy. Storage space is valuable real estate in your home office; treat it wisely. Store your supplies, like things together, in labeled, clear storage to keep them tidy.
  • Files: the least-loved task in an office is typically filing. So, the better your files are set up, the easier that chore becomes. Be sure to set up action files (ie bills to pay, calls to make, pending response, etc.), project files, and tickler files. Think of “filing” when establishing your electronic organization as well. Most email systems provide the ability to have folders set up… USE THEM!
  • The Four D’s: For any item that comes across your desk, whether it’s paper or an email, do one of the following: Delete (or trash), Delegate (give it to whomever should take care of it), Do It (if it will take you about 5 minutes or less to handle it, then do it now!), Defer It (for the items that will take a little longer to handle, or can wait).
  • TURN IT OFF: This is my favorite advice! We have so many distractions in our work day…if there is a way to control them, take advantage of it. Turn off the automatic email alerts, phone alerts, and shut your office door if possible. Schedule when you will handle email, and then stick to that schedule. Accept and/or return calls at scheduled times. The more you can do to eliminate distractions, the more you get done… period.

If you’re interested in a needs assessment to allow us to check out your home office and see how we can help you become more in control of that space, click here to schedule one. We’d love to help organize your chaos!

3 comments

  1. […] Peak inside the world of organization… « Home Office 101 […]


  2. I like your idea of an equipment wing and a free wing on the desk. In my case, they are two different pieces of furniture. But, I don’t do much work “by hand” anymore, its all computer, so I spend most of my time at the “equipment” wing. It’s also a standing desk, so when I need/want to sit, I use the “free” wing for that. Best of both worlds.


    • Sounds like a great arrangement John…thanks for commenting!



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