At the beginning of the pandemic working from home sounded exciting appealing. I mean, who wouldn’t want to avoid the daily commute into the office or having to get up super early to get ready for sitting in traffic for long periods.
Then heading into Starbucks for the weekly treat, only to get the wrong coffee or something else is wrong with it. As time moved on, we learned that working at home was more complicated than we all thought.
Especially if you have kids or a husband, a dog, and whatever else you can pack into your house.
My secret tips for Staying Organized make working at home, which is full of distractions, a breeze!
But with my tips, working at home in your home office will be simple and help you be more productive.
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Reasons for Organization When Working at Home
Working at home is full of distractions and uncomfortableness. What I mean by this is simple, it sounds like a great idea to work on the couch, but really, it is not ideal. Neither is working at the dining room table.
But I love my couch, why can’t I work on it?
For starters working on the couch is where you lounge; remember, you associate tasks with clothes and furniture.
Let me explain; you see, when you are sitting on the couch, you mentally know this is where you either read a book, watch television or chat with friends and family.
In our society, we do not associate the couch with work.
Then there is the dining room table or kitchen table. We may think this is an excellent place to work since many of us use this space to do our homework.
But again, mentally, we associate this place with eating, relaxing after a large meal, and chatting with friends.
Then there are the distractions! If the table is in the kitchen, there could be a steady stream of people coming in and out. And it isn’t comfortable.
The chairs are not meant for you to sit on them for hours on end.
Another reason for an organization when working at home is that it reduces the amount of stress you could experience.
Organization can also increase productivity, allowing you to complete your duties.
Often when we are surrounded by huge piles of papers, books, clothes, or whatever, we begin to feel overwhelmed.
But when things are put where they should be and designated where we “mentally” perceive them, our overwhelmed feelings decrease.
“When you’re disorganized, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. This is because extreme disorganization means you’re constantly reacting to life. For instance, if you find yourself rushing to appointments at the last minute or starting each day with no idea what you need to do, overwhelm will quickly set in.” (Patterson)
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Secret Tips for staying organized
1. Keep a tidy desk
You want to clear off your desk during the last ten to fifteen minutes of work. Keeping it tidy will help reduce feelings of being unorganized and overwhelmed.
Plus, who wants to return to work with many items piled everywhere? A clean desk helps you with productivity, focus, and of course, lower stress.
Now I must point out that it is perfectly ok to have an “organized mess” as long as you know and understand what is going on.
There is nothing wrong with you; Albert Einstein was known to have a messy office, which didn’t slow him down.
2. Work Space Set-up
Your workspace is where you are spending many hours, so you want to be in a warm, inviting space. If you’re working from home, this is a great time to pull out your decorating skills and get fancy!
Add some plants, a nice rug, a sweet chair, or perhaps pictures of things that bring you joy.
Choose a color that will inspire you and again bring you joy. Make your home office a place you want to visit.
3. Don’t allow others to use the space
For some of us, this may not be very easy. But your office, as I mentioned above, is where you do your work.
This should be a place where you work, not where someone plays or messes up your documents by unintentionally loading a virus on your computer.
Also, do not pay household bills here! This is where you do business and pay business bills.
4. Set up a Calendar Separate from family
You want to be professional, and one way to do that is not to have a calendar crammed full of activities that have nothing to do with your business.
Aside from that, you may take a look at your calendar and become alarmed at the look of it. Why? Your business schedule mixed with your family activities might overload your schedule.
5. Set up Working Hours
Creating a set of work hours will provide clients information on when you are available and when you are not.
You can also carve out times for you to eat, don’t forget meals and breaks. Your mental health and productivity will thank you.
6. Create a list
Creating a list allows you to keep your thoughts and important tasks organized.
Plus, it feels good to physically scratch something off when you finish a project.
7. Delete emails
After creating a schedule and lists, make sure you attend to those emails. I like to take care of administrative duties in the morning before doing anything else.
This way, I can answer any emails or take care of anything that I feel is important first.
I am notorious for holding on to emails forever. Call it a drilled-in lesson I learned many moons ago regarding proving that I was right and they were wrong.
However, you can delete emails. If you feel they are essential, you should hold on to archive them.
Don’t leave your read/reply to emails in your inbox.
8. Create “folders” on computer or drive
Filing systems are still used, although they are more on your hard drive than actual physical copies. So be sure to set up folders for your clients and essential documents.
Keeping a computer just for work will give you the assurance that nothing from outside sources will encounter and accidentally corrupt your files.
However, if you have a computer that you must use for personal and business life, then think about getting a cloud system. Keep that cloud-only for your business or only for your personal items. Either one, and make sure you have it locked and secured for your peace of mind.
I find that OneDrive has an excellent platform for my cloud storage. They even have a vault where I keep important tax documents, and I feel secure those documents are safe.
9. Use a bulletin board
Many of us are visual people. Or we need a glaring sign in front of us, so we don’t forget about something.
Bulletin boards are great to help you notice things such as “hey, don’t forget this project,” or this is what your brand should be like.
I used to have a boss who kept her brand board on the bulletin board. This inspired her daily and reminded her what her brand was all about.
I loved that, and I do this myself.
10. Dress the Part (shoes optional)
I am not saying you need to wear a three-piece suit or a pencil skirt.
But what I am suggesting is that you don’t wear your pajamas.
Get into a comfy pair of jeans and a nice shirt. Something that screams I am a professional (semi-professional), not “hey, I just got out of bed, and here I am.”
Dressing the part will not only show your clients that you are a professional, but you will also have the mindset to get things done.
Productivity has been shown to improve when you “dress the part.”
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How To Continue Being Organized
Hold yourself accountable to your organization. In doing so, you are setting yourself up for success.
“Organization drastically boosts your productivity and reduces your stress level during the week. In addition, you can come out of the office at a reasonable time and still meet all your deadlines.” (Offices)
Keeping organized could also help you from dreading to even go to work.
I avoided going to a friend’s house like the plague only because her room was always messy when I was a little girl. It bothered me and gave me feelings of anxiety. So much so that I wore down a tooth from clenching my jaw.
I offered to clean her room; that was a mistake. However, I learned from then that the feelings I had gotten from her disorganized behavior were not something I wanted to experience.
Working at Home and Being Organized
Working at home can be exciting and relaxing if you allow it to be. However, it can also be unorganized and overwhelming if you don’t create a plan.
Creating a solid, organized plan is simple; using some of my secret tips for staying organized could help you be more productive, happier with your work, and reduce stress.
Give it a try!
Patterson, Ransom. Feeling Overwhelmed? These 8 Techniques Can Help. 6 January 2021. <https://collegeinfogeek.com/feeling-overwhelmed/>.
Offices, Metro. Metro offices. April 27, 2016. <https://www.metroffice.com/wellness/3-advantages-of-keeping-your-workplace-organized/>.