Are you working from home? Preparing to? It’s completely possible to create and run a successful business from home, in an organized way, so that your work stuff and your home stuff aren’t always getting in the way of each other.
Some of you are lucky enough to have an entire room for your business activities. I sure do envy you! I’ve always had a small section of a room. In the apartment, it was a little nook in the living room where I had placed a desk, and I had a closet to store things in. When I moved into the trailer I didn’t have a nook or a closet, but I had a desk, file cabinet, and shelves. In the room I rent, my desk is set up next to my bed, and I’m always tweaking the way things are set up to use the least amount of space possible. Luckily, the desk has two drawers and shelves to the front, and shelves to either side. It’s a craft desk, that I use as a combination scrapbooking and writing desk. Multi-functional.
It took years for me to learn this, so I’m hoping this list of ideas will help you to get things in order more quickly than I did. (I’ve been so horribly unorganized most of my life that I’m pretty darn excited to be getting my life and writing things in order now.)
- Stop keeping things ‘just in case’. I’ve done this for years. I homeschooled for a lot of years, had a home day care for a number of years, and freelanced for a while. I kept all office stuff, as well as markers, crayons, and other artsy things. When I downsized to fit into the small room I’m renting, I thought I had done a good job of getting rid of unnecessary things. But over the last few years I have realized I could have done so much more. Last year I let go of many more items, and then this spring I did even more. I now have what can fit in and on my desk, in a tote for travel, and in the leftover space in my three file boxes. The only things I stock are pens, highlighters, journals, legal pads, and file folders, and only what I actually have the space for.
- Decide on one area to have as your “office”, if you don’t have an entire room. This might be in a good-size closet, or in front of the window in your bedroom or living room. Or maybe even a small desk in the kitchen.
- Set up a workable file system. Workable for you, not someone else. I’ve been trying to get my filing organized for years, trying out different methods. Here’s what I came up with: Three file boxes – One for past work, one for current work and projects, and one for future projects. It’s the best! for me.
- Have a tote or back pack ready for on-the-go work. Mine always has pens, highlighters, sticky notes and tabs, pencils, and a pencil sharpener. All I have to do is pack my planner and whatever I’ll need to work on when away from home.
- Don’t let your business stuff overflow into the rest of your space. If you decide to work on the sofa or the bed, or the back porch, be sure everything gets put away when you are done. And, don’t let things stay in your work space that don’t belong there. But, do spread out while working for more comfort or space. It’s okay. If you keep your place tidy enough, you will have plenty of space on the coffee or kitchen table to spread out when you need to.
- A cluttered home can interfere with your work, just like a clutter work area can interfere with your ability to relax during your down time – and even cause undo stress. This can be a struggle for those of us who are not naturally organized, but it’s possible to find little ways to cut the clutter. Such as a 5 minute cleanup each morning, afternoon, and evening.
- Do clients visit your home? You’ll want an area that is always kept nice to sit with them and chat. Set aside a drawer or cupboard to hold snacks, coffee, tea, cups, spoons, and other things that you can easily grab when you are rushed and expecting someone.
- Also, keep a pretty scrunchie or other hair tie and a nice blouse or other top at the ready for when you need to look your best. A cute pair of shoes will also be helpful. A hook on the back of the door, or on the wall, will hold the blouse and hair tie, and the shoes can go under the desk. Keeping these things on hand but out-of-the-way will allow you to get ready for a video chat or an in-person meeting quickly. While it’s handy to have your business in your home, you might not always be able to go into your room to grab something from the closet when someone else is ready to start a meeting.
- Having a designated work area means that, when you have company, your work things will not be in the way. But you also can’t let your personal stuff take up residence in your work area. Clear out cups and other things when you’ve finished with them so they are not in the way and adding to a clutter problem.
- As for company, let people know when it is and is not okay to visit. Perhaps you can make a sign for your front door: Working! Please come back later.
- If there is a way you can close up your workspace when you’re done, do so. Otherwise, be sure to put things away so that no one mistakenly uses your important papers to write notes, files don’t get knocked over and messed up, and so that people know better than to go in and use your favorite work pens.
Physical boundaries can be a huge help in keeping your workspace separate from the rest of your home, which is especially helpful if you live with others or have a lot of company. If you are a loner you have more freedom to spread out, but it is still a good idea to keep things separated when possible.
Looking for more ways to organize your stuff. Get my book!
Organize Your Space and Stuff is a compilation of many articles from How to Live the Freelance Life. Each article has been expanded on for this book, with updates on how things have changed, and action steps to guide you in setting up and keeping up with your office or office space.
A bonus section at the back of this eBook gives the reader creative projects that will aid in furthering their career and brightening their day. These projects are not to be missed. They are fun!
Organize Your Space and Stuff provides take-aways such as ideas for organizing projects and record keeping, as well as keeping track of successes. Organizing the way you do business does not have to be difficult. The eBook offers advice from someone who has tried many things, before beginning to get it right. It also offers recommendations for having a ‘greener’ office environment, and advice for keeping what you need on-hand, so it is available when needed.