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How to Organize Your Office When Working from Home

How to Organize Your Home Office

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Years ago, just before starting my business, I had a friend who was a writer for the New York Times. She was writing a story about a group of women who were helping people become more organized. She told me all about it because she said I was the most organized person she knew. Although I wanted her to include me in the story, she couldn’t as I wasn’t in business yet. I was still unsure of what I wanted to do at this time in my life so I took a battery of career planning tests. My results showed, without a doubt, that my greatest strength was my ability to organize. So, I informed my friend I was starting my business and convinced her that she includes me in the article; which she did.

The day the story was scheduled for publishing, I set up my home office. This consisted of sitting at my dining room table with my home landline phone next to me and a manila pad and a pen. I was hoping and praying the phone would ring, only expecting a call or two since the story made it clear I was new to this and just starting my business. But, I never could have guessed the kind of response I would get. The first call came in at 9 am that morning and I did not stop getting calls for 6 months straight. My friend’s story had propelled my business forward and by keeping it simple I was able to provide value to my clients. As my business began, I already had a backlog of work and all while working from my very basic home office.

Credit: Personal Stock

How to Organize Your Office so that it Works for You

An hour each day (that’s two weeks a year), lost because people can’t find what they need. This applies to any office you may have – at work or at home. The more time you spend on a “paper hunt,” the less time you have for yourself.  Your work takes longer if you are disorganized.

One of my favorite stories I heard a while ago. An attorney worked at home two days per week but she couldn’t use her home office space anymore because it had become too cluttered with papers and files and case-related books. She started to bring her laptop to the dining room table to work but as you can imagine, that area was quickly becoming a mess as she brought in files and spread out her papers. The only real solution was a full home-office cleanout, and the attorney did finally hire a pro to help out.

From observing my clients, I can tell you that people waste way too much time “prospecting” for the various papers. There’s no doubt about it. A messy office wastes valuable time—time you could use to bond with your family or do something you enjoy. Although most things are digital now, you likely still print and (plan to) file important documents.

So, the key to working from home is to make it simple and to keep your office space organized. Since most people are working from home during this season of quarantine, I wanted to share some advice on how to organize your office and tips for working from home:

Design Your Home Office Closet

One of the best ways to guarantee that you can organize your office in a way that works best for you is to design your own storage space. Luckily, you can! Thanks to EasyClosets and the easy self-design software on their website. This means you can design the home office closet of your dreams for free. Not sure what would work best? Well, EasyClosets even has professional designers available to help you design a beautiful and functional closet, also for free.

How to Organize Your Office
Credit: EasyClosets

Since they offer closet solutions and style for a variety of spaces, you can design custom closets to fit any area of your home. Once your design is perfect, you order your closet system and they deliver the pieces, ready for DIY installation. With custom instructions specifically for your design and all the needed materials included, setting up is simple. EasyClosets truly know how to make the entire experience incredibly easy and fun. Want to set up your own home office closet now that you’re working from home? Well, EasyClosets currently has a sale to love running with discounts ranging from 15% to 25%!

Credit: EasyClosets

How to Organize Your Office at Home

Organizing your home office well can do wonders for your productivity; especially if you’re new to working from home. This is a novel experience for many people around the world but it can be enlightening to see how much you can do from home. By following these tried and tested organizing hacks, your home office will be a haven where you can get things done.

How to Organize Your Office
Credit: Piccolo Pictures
5 Home Office Organizing Tips
  • Position your desk at the center of your office with the doorway to your side. This will prevent you from getting distracted each time a family member walks past. As your kids and other family members will be at home with you during this time, preventing distraction while you work is important.
  • Keep your frequently used files close to your desk. Put your most-used files in the file drawer of your desk and other files on a bookshelf or in a filing cabinet that’s within easy reach. A swivel desk chair should make it even easier when you need to reach a file behind you. When files are too far away, you tend to leave them on your desk instead of putting them back once you’re done.
  • Take time each morning (or preferably before you finish up the day before) to clear your desk. File documents you need to keep, recycle used or unwanted paper and put all other items in their assigned places. Walmart has a terrific range of home office organizers and other supplies to help you with this.
  • Keep your wastebasket nearby. Having a place to put unwanted paper means that you don’t constantly have to manage the paper and can get it off your desk quickly and easily.
  • Make sure you have adequate shelving to store your books and binders. Shelves are not meant for stacks of papers or a collection of random items you don’t know where to store.

Personally, I’m obsessed with the home office furniture essentials from Houzz. If you need to spruce up your home office or working space now that you’ll be spending more time at home, I suggest investing in Houzz furniture. You won’t find better quality or more gorgeous items. Best of all, Houzz has a Home Office Furniture by Style range currently on sale. The stunning furniture ranges from beautiful writing desks to stylish bookshelves and sturdy filing cabinets to leather swivel desk chairs sure to make any home office look inviting and comfortable.

Acme Sara Desk, Walnut and Sandy Black

Tips for Working from Home

Due to the Coronavirus and need for social distancing millions of people are now working from home. As it’s a new situation for many, I wanted to share some tips on how to set up a homework system. Sure, many people fantasize about working from home. It means more sleep, no commutes, time with the family and more time for yourself. But, working from home comes with its own struggles. Without accountability from others, you can easily give in to procrastination. Whether you do it by cleaning the kitchen or binge-watching that new Netflix show, you’ll find ways to avoid work. Finding motivation and being productive when working from home can be tough. Plus, the isolation may affect you if you are used to and enjoy the socialization at work.

As an Organizing Professional and work-from-home veteran, I know what it takes to make this transition successful and sustainable. So, to make the most of this experience eat some breakfast, change out of your pajamas and heed the following advice to get some work done:

Claim Your Space

Having a designated home office, work desk or assigned space is ideal when working from home. You need a dedicated and comfortable spot from which to work. This is the space you associate with your job, not with your home. So, that means no working on the couch in front of the TV or lying in bed with your laptop all day. Unless you create a space that is associated with work, it will distract you too easily and cause you to lose focus constantly. Additionally, this area should be tidy and organized to promote productivity.

How to Organize Your Office
Credit: Ella Jardim
Seek Connection

You may get more work done without your colleagues blabbing constantly, but social interactions are always needed to avoid feelings of isolation and loneliness. Working from home especially during the Covid-19 quarantine can have a negative impact on your mental wellbeing. One way to curb this is to find a friend or a colleague who you can reach out to when you crave companionship. But since humans need real connection, choose to communicate face-to-face instead of through a text or email. There are plenty of tools such as Zoom or Skype that can be used for remote communication.

Create a List & Stay on Message

When working from home it’s a good idea to structure your daily schedule. You can do this by making a list of what you need to do each day. For some inspiration and to decide on whether to use a notebook or an app, read my article on the amazing power of the to-do list. It’s best to create this list in the evening so you can start your tasks immediately the next day. The reason why you need to have a plan when working remotely is that your day will no longer be guided and influenced by other people. This means it will feel as if your days lack their normal structure. Just remember to schedule plenty of breaks as well for rest and play.

How to Organize Your Office
Credit: Kimberely Dodd
Be Mindful of Your Mental Health & Wellbeing

These are difficult times and the isolation of working from home may aggravate mental health issues. That’s why it’s so important to be mindful of your wellbeing while working from home. No matter how organized your home office is, it won’t help you unless you are taking care of your state of mind. Working from home offers a wonderful opportunity to spend more time on self-care and activities that can improve your health and wellbeing.

One option is to redecorate your workspace. Frame and hang motivational quotes or photos that make you happy. You can also bring the outdoors inside by adding some indoor plants to oxygenate the air in your home. Another great idea is to repurpose the time you would normally spend commuting. Take this time to exercise, do yoga or even meditate as this will positively prepare you for a productive and successful day. I do online exercise videos several times a day.

Whatever you choose to do, remember that you can be productive and successful even when working from home. No need to overcomplicate things. Keep it simple, stay organized and find what works best for you!

What are your tips for working from home?

Disclaimer: Keep in mind that I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you when you click my links and make a purchase. However, this does not impact my opinion in any way. I only promote brands I believe in and products that I use and love myself. I try my best to keep things fair and balanced to help you make the best choice for you.

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How to Organize Your Office

Comments 14

  1. I love all of the home office photos you included! They are lovely and soothing, yet feel like great spaces to work and be productive. And that story of how your organizing business launched is fantastic! Like you, I learned early on the power of PR, where someone else talked about your business for you.

    It’s been fascinating to watch those that are not accustomed to working from home carve out their home office spaces. For years I had a space to work, but it wasn’t well designed. It took many years, but finally, my husband designed and had built a beautiful Oh, So Linda office space that makes me happy every time I’m there. It was well worth the investment and wait.

    1. I chose those home-office photos as each one has a personality. Just like what your husband did for you, a home office, where we spend so much of our time, should be an extension of who we are so that we’re comfortable, happy and creative.
      Linda, your husband is a keeper! But you know that already.

  2. I can’t get over the response you received to that article! It probably helped that you were a pioneer in a fairly new industry, so before that a lot of people weren’t aware they could get help organizing. But still – way to go!

    1. Janet,
      I love this good news! Thank you!
      What’s so interesting is that the problems I saw decades ago I still see today. Of course, many things have changed with the Internet, expectations and the work culture.
      A lot of the solutions are the same and some have changed to keep up with the times.

  3. These are all great tips. We are trying to figure this out with my husband now home and working all day. He set up an office in our daughter’s bedroom. One of the first things he did was reorient the desk so that it had a better background for all of the Teams calls. It is important to have a view, but not one that will distract you, as you suggest. Very timely Ronni!

    1. It’s so interesting that you mention having the right background for all the Teams calls. I have a few group conference calls next week and I’m thinking the same thing.
      My husband sits in a big comfy club chair in our living room so he can spread out on the big glass coffee table. Balancing his laptop, coffee and the news. He’s just as happy as can be!

  4. I love your 5 office organizing bullet points. I totally subscribe to each of them. I started my business from the table in my guest room. It’s now an office without a bed. I love have a spot that’s kind of secluded from all the other things going on in the house. I can concentrate better this way. It also makes it easier for my to draw boundaries at the end of the day.

    1. Hi Janet,
      Distractions and interruptions are the enemy of getting work done at home. We can be our own worst enemy and sabotage our own efforts. It’s a work in progress. It takes so much discipline.

    2. With being in quarantine, I’m rearranging the house and making a good office space, so this post is super helpful for me! Lots of great advice. ♡

      1. I’m so glad it was helpful. It’s terrific that you’re rearranging the house to fit your needs. Sometimes it’s a work in progress but it sounds like you’re super motivated.
        Good luck!

    1. It’s not unusual to have multi uses for a room. These days it’s quite common. I’ve seen some great ways to organize crafts where you have a craft/ work station and an office/ business station.
      Stay organized!😀

    1. Daniel,
      Thank you. I’m glad you found it helpful. Let me know if there’s anything else you’re interested in.

      Ronni

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