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BY SUSAN R. KILEY

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Home Office
Eclipse_Images / Getty

As summer comes to a close, kids are heading back to school, and those of us working from home rejoice. It’s a chance to take back our quiet home office working spaces, form new habits and set new financial goals for the coming months.  

Now is the time to organize your home office (workspace) for maximum efficiency. In the spirit of taking back our quiet office spaces — with a clean desk, these are five tips to stay organized and efficient while working from home. 

Respect Your Home Office

Treat your home office with respect. When Covid-19 forced millions of people to work from home, their office became the kitchen table. If you’re the type of person who has a lot of books or papers scattered all over your office, don’t let them pile up on your desk (or kitchen table). Keep everything as organized as possible.

Taking five minutes in the morning or before quitting for the day in the evening – papers are organized, recycled or filed, while books are put on bookshelves. 

Keeping your office space, ahem, kitchen table organized will lend way to a more efficient start of your working day. And, if you are sharing space with family, having the kitchen table available without clutter is essential for uninterrupted family time. .

Minimize Distractions

Ding. Ding. Ding.

Mom. Mom. Mommmmmmmmm!

Working from home is tricky as the number of interruptions increases 100-fold. Productivity, organization, and efficiency require habit-forming routines and structure. 

If your children are not heading back to school, here are ways to get yourself on track and decrease the number of interruptions working from home.

  1. Close the door
  2. Put a Do Not Disturb sign on your door or near your working space
  3. Set working boundaries if sharing a room with others
 
For those of us who are rejoicing with our kids back in school, here are ways we can maximize our home office productivity. 
 
  1. Turn off all notifications or set your phone and computer to sleep mode
  2. Keep a schedule just like you would if working at a large company
  3. Take scheduled breaks
 
Working from home, especially if you have young children, is a challenge – keeping distractions to a minimum instead of eliminating them is a better goal. 

Stick to a Home Office Routine

Those working from home can find routines challenging – so many distractions – laundry, television, social media…  

Even though you don’t commute to the office, scrambling to your home office space will leave you in a disorganized state of mind. If you have a start time of 8:00 am each day, keep that time at home, especially if your house is quiet.

Get up, have coffee, make breakfast, exercise, then sit down and act like you are still at a workplace. Keeping your routine working from home, for example, helps maintain organization, too.  

All too-often, we find ourselves starting working later because of a lack of routine and distractions. Don’t fall into the 10:00 am to 2:00 pm trap I’ve seen many people who work from home do. 

What happens without a home office routine, you sleep in later than 10:00 am, your day starts at 1:00 pm all while you become more inefficient, less-productive and disorganized. 

Turn Off Your Computer

Personal and business worlds blur when working from home. This is especially true now as many people continue to observe social distancing and forgo typical after-work get-togethers. There’s no ‘quit’ time, and to-do lists expanded; it’s easy to keep typing away at the computer. Unfortunately, more typing (or working) does not mean effective or productive time.  

An easy way to stay organized and efficient every day, look at your calendar and ask: “What has to get done today?” Set a timer for the amount of time you plan on working that day. Then, when you’ve finished the day’s priorities or the timer chimes, your day is done, so turn off your computer.

Before leaving your office space: 

  • Make a priority to-do list for the following day.
  • Spend three minutes cleaning your desk.
  • Step away from your office space for the rest of the day.

Find Your Creative Side

Our time being creative outside of our office correlates with the quality and organization during working hours. It’s worth trying new creative activities like dancing, poetry, or painting.  

Spend more time on those things you always used to push off during the evening or on weekends. You may find your creative outlet in reading books, painting, or listening to podcasts on an evening walk.

Everyone requires time away from their desk. By participating in creative activities, you are mentally resetting yourself to have a productive day. When you’re back in the morning, you’re energized, creative, and ready for whatever your ‘office’ throws at you. 
 

Working in a chaotic environment means you will find it difficult to relax or be productive, if not impossible. A cluttered office space equals unproductive, unhappy, and unsuccessful. You will get stressed the minute you walk into your office space; you will find it overwhelming.

Working from home can be a significant challenge to keep your office space organized all the time. In 2020, many discovered working from home was chaotic, stressful, and unproductive as office space (and quiet space) was challenging to find in many homes. Maybe so, but it’s not impossible. 

Declutter Your Home Office

Benefits are endless when you have a clutter-free working space. You get rid of unwanted paper, it’s easier to find things, not to mention that you can reduce the time spent looking for your to-do list or calendar caused by office clutter. Decluttering your home office space at a minimum every week is an excellent way to practice self-care habits.

Alternatively, you can declutter daily. Spending five to ten minutes sorting through mail or answering emails is enough to declutter your office space. If you keep your home office space organized, you will find your productivity increases, and naturally your happiness, too.

Wake Up Early

It’s a good idea to wake up early, especially if you have others living in your house (like partners or children). Being the first one up means you get quiet time to yourself – meditating, reading, journaling, or enjoying a cup of coffee. 

Being a morning person, I have no issues rolling out of bed and starting my day before the kids need to wake up. Nothing is more energizing than watching the sun rise in silence. 

Sometimes, I use the early morning hours to get a head start on a project I need to finish. As a writing freelancer, I find my creative genius early morning to mid-afternoon – anything after 3:00 pm is nothing but a pile of incoherent words. Early hours keep me creative, organized, and efficient to do a good job and find joy in my work.

Buy What's Necessary

Does your home office need another book or fake plant? Maybe you’re not a book or content hoarder like me. However, if you’re like many people, you buy books, courses, and stuff whenever you feel down in the dumps. Am I right?

Even if the things you are investing in add value to your life, you’re better off saving your money until you feel better and can rationalize if you need that book, course, or a new app for your business. If you happen to indulge in buying another thing, make sure to get rid of something. Bring one item in, take one out. Your office space will thank you!

The point is that you don’t need anything else for your business or your home office. Your home office needs to be organized and functional if you want to remain happy and successful.

Here’s how to stop buying office and business stuff that you don’t need:

  • Don’t visit Amazon or Amazon Kindle
  • Stay away from clicking ads
  • Read the books you already have
  • Complete courses you have stored on your computer

 

Successful home offices do not require many things. The fewer books, courses, and equipment (including apps and technology gadgets), the happier (and organized) you will be. 

Even if you have ample office space (congratulations on being so lucky), you do not need new expensive items to fill the space. Everything is digital, so it’s just not worth it.

Final Thoughts

Even if you have a home office full of stuff, it’s possible to declutter for a more organized and functional space. By creating (and sticking with) daily habits, you can have an organized and efficient office. And ultimately, you will be happier and more successful!

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Susan R Kiley is an author, content creation expert, blogger, podcast host and YouTube host. She provides real-world information on how to build wildly happy and successful businesses using content without overwhelm. The Success YOU podcast is all about empowering today’s content creator, aspiring writer and YOU to finally do the dang thing and start doing today that truly makes you happy! Susan also runs a digital agency, Kiley Media.

One Response

  1. Another great post, Susan. Thank you for all your posts, especially on how to declutter and get organized. My living space is my office, so often I find it challenging to separate the two spaces into a functional and clutter-free space. I spend a day every month or two decluttering my office space. As far as turning off my ‘work’, I make sure my day ends at 5 pm every day, important to my sanity!

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