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    Jul 11th, 2013

    Setting up a maintenance plan to keep your new office space clutter free

    Week 8.

    So the one thing I noticed so far is that over the last few weeks I have organized areas and then a few days later they look terrible again. I will admit that I still haven’t finished all the areas of the room and that is part of the problem. Until I have a place for everything and create a system to maintain it this will continue to happen. So if you’re having that problem then stay on top of it and continue to get each section organized. There will be a point when everything has a home and it will be easier to keep your office space clutter free.

    Creating new habits
    BUT…you will need to set up a system to keep it neat. Create new daily habits to maintain your space. Get a timer and for 15 minutes each day file away your papers and clear your desk. If everything in the room has a home then you shouldn’t need more than that. Once a week you will need to really clean the room, dust the shelves, wipe down the counters and desk areas, vacuum, etc. If you work all day in your home office then you are spending a lot of hours in this room. Your days will be happier if you are in a pleasant space.

    Make a task list
    In addition to your daily to-do’s create a task list that you will use daily for routine tasks, all the little things that will help you maintain your new home office. Check off each thing as you do them and keep track of the things you did. This will help you create the new habits. I’m doing this for the whole house. I broke it up into morning, afternoon and evening tasks. Morning tasks help keep the house orderly. The afternoon tasks are all home office related: filing and clearing off the desk. My evenings are mostly related to dinner and preparing for the following day.

    Dress it up
    Add some flowers and personal photos to make it your happy place. Bring in things from other parts of the house that you love. Artwork is a must. Choose something peaceful. Maybe with a positive quote. I have an inspiration board where I post things that either make me smile or remind me why I’m working so hard. I post goals, press clippings and family photos as well.

    If you’re working at home then you have the discipline to do this and probably have time management skills as well. So you just need to learn new habits to keep your office space clutter free. I’m not completely finished but here is a photo of my improved, mostly organized office.

    office space clutter free

    Posted in Get organized | leave a comment » | Posted by Susan

    Apr 30th, 2013

    6 things to consider when setting up your desk

    Week 7.

    Your desk is where you spend most of your time, so it’s important to make it functional and pleasant. Before setting up your desk, ask yourself the following questions.
    1. Is it ergonomic?
    2. Is the computer monitor at a good height?
    3. Is my chair comfortable, and is it supporting my back?
    4. Is the phone close by?
    5. What hand do I use to answer the phone?
    6. What things do I use the most?

    So what is ergonomic?
    The word “Ergonomic” comes from two Greek words “ergon,” meaning work, and “nomos” meaning “laws.” Today, however, the word is used to describe the science of “designing the job to fit the worker, not forcing the worker to fit the job.” If your desk was ergonomic your keyboard and mouse position will allow for a natural position of your wrists and arms. Your monitor will be eye level or below. The chair should have good lumbar support. If you use a laptop then prop it up with an adjustable laptop stand. With a proper desk and chair you can prevent repetitive stress injuries. Learn more on how to ergonomically optimize your workspace.
    Ergonomics in the Home Office
    It’s all about convenience!
    I answer the phone with my left hand so I positioned the phone on the left. I sometimes have to type while talking to a client so I use a headset. No more neck problems from using my head to hold the phone. Do you do that? Keep things you use frequently within arms reach. I don’t like the typical in/out box concept. It may work for you but I do have a to-do box and then a file box. All papers pertaining to what I’m working on go in the to-do box. Then when they need to be filed I either file them or put them in the file box to file later. Think about working from left to right. Another handy item is a small box to corral the miscellaneous items so they don’t litter your desk. You will need the essentials near by: stapler, paper clips, tape dispenser, calculator, pencil/pen cup, notebook and a small box to store recently acquired business cards.

    Desk AccessoriesMake a list of things you use daily and plan-out the desk. If your desk doesn’t allow for ergonomics, invest in one that does. It may be a simple fix like installing a keyboard tray under the desk to drop it down to the right height.

    Final thoughts, keep it clean and healthy. Practice new habits to keep it that way. That is the subject of the next and last week of the organizing challenge, Maintenance! Creating a daily system to keep your home office organized, functional and beautiful.

    Posted in Get organized | leave a comment » | Posted by Susan

    Apr 18th, 2013

    How to get rid of the paper pile-up, or some of it. Go Electronic!

    Week 6.

    smartphones and tabletsAre you one of those people that uses a smart phone but doesn’t use most of it’s great features? If you learn nothing else, at least learn to use the calendar and contacts properly. And sync regularly. It is such freedom to not have a big organizer anymore. It all fits in my iPhone and syncs with my computer and iPad. I never forget appointments and always have my entire contact list with me. How did we do business before the smart phone?

    So after you learn those basics try some other apps that will make life easier and save you from using paper. There are apps for making todo lists, grocery lists, calorie counting, and one of my favorites, Simplenote. With Simplenote you can make notes from your computer or app and they sync automatically. There are also other third party computer applications that will sync with Simplenote.com. I use Notational Velocity for all my writing and notes. I can access those notes from my phone or iPad anytime. Add to them and the updates are on my computer when I get back to the office. Did I mention both are free?

    Another app I love is Instapaper. I do a lot of browsing on the web and do most of my research online. Instead of reading at my computer, I hit a button in my toolbar called “Read Later”. This adds the content from that page to my Instapaper.com account and then I can read the content anytime on my iPhone or iPad. This helps with time management. Instead of wasting time reading when I should be working, I read these articles at my leisure, in waiting rooms or on the treadmill. Instapaper syncs with Android, Kindle Fire and Nook devices as well.

    Magazines, a major source of clutter.
    I love magazines and have trouble parting with them. They clutter every room. Last year I let the print subscriptions lapse and now have electronic subscriptions. Unfortunately not all my trade magazines have electronic versions but this has helped cut down on the amount of paper coming into the house. Plus I can now take all my magazines with me on vacation. I like that. Of course this also applies to books but I think many people have already made the change to electronic reading. Last year I donated 8 boxes of books to the library.

    Business Receipts, aaugh!
    Try Neat, the digital filing system. Neat transforms your digital and paper documents into useful, organized information. They also have a cloud service and mobile app that makes it easy to search, share and access your important information. I don’t have one yet but planning to get one soon.

    If you think you can’t do this, think again. With a little effort this is achievable. Here are some books to help with the learning curve. Good luck with taming your paper pile-up electronically.

    Posted in Get organized | leave a comment » | Posted by Susan

    Apr 16th, 2013

    Organizing your office supplies in a snap

    Week 5.

    This should be an easy week.  My biggest problem is that my computer desk doesn’t have drawers. Do you have that problem.  Our office closet is filled with art supplies, camera supplies, cameras, lighting, tripods…no room for office supplies.  So I bought some nice attractive containers I can label and place on shelves. Organizing your office supplies can be easy and attractive.

    Storage Boxes from West ElmFirst start by sorting all your supplies, putting like with like.  Use boxes designed for storing paper, stationery, and letterhead; deep boxes for staples, push pins, rubber bands, label maker supplies, etc.  Pens and pencils can go in cups on your desk.  Throw out all pens that no longer work.  This is a great time to weed out the junk.  I discovered I had 3 boxes of staples.  I consolidated them into one.  It is also nice to have small containers handy for frequently used supplies like paper clips and push pins.

    If you’re like me you use a lot of media like DVDs and CDs.   If you use them a lot then don’t hide them in a box or drawer.  Find a unit that fits on your desk and leave room for more DVD’s in the future.

    DVD-CD storageTry to pick items that look attractive.  Look around your home first and try to find boxes or baskets that will fit the bill.  Shoe boxes are great. Cover with your favorite paper and they will look great too.

    Easy week, right!  Next week we will have tips on going electronic to save on paper pile up.

    Posted in Get organized | leave a comment » | Posted by Susan

    Apr 12th, 2013

    Easiest way to financial paper organization, guaranteed.

    Week 4.

    I’ve been in business for 32 years and I rely heavily on my accountant at tax time.  I’m not a bookeeper but I found that if I’m organized with my paperwork then that is half the battle.  Of course I use Quickbooks but when my accountant asks a question and I need to find a receipt I don’t want to spend a day looking for it.

    So even when I’m totally un-organized in every other part of my business I have always kept my financial paperwork in order.  A few years ago I changed the way I keep my papers together.  I used to use pocket folders in a file cabinet, one for each month but that was a hassel.  So now I use a three ring binder with tabs to divide the 12 months and a clear pocket for each month’s receipts.

    Here’s what you’ll need:
    1. 3-hole Binder  ( a nice big fat one )
    2. 3-hole punch
    3. 12 clear page protectors that open on the top. The type made for 3-hole binders.
    4. 12 Tab dividers or sticky tabs to label each month

    How it works:
    At the beginning of each year put together your new binder with clear page protectors and dividers all labeled by month.  The receipts go into the clear pockets each month.  Your bank statements, or merchant statements are punched and place behind the receipts for that month.   this way you have both receipts and statements all in the same place.  It will be very easy to add new receipts.  Never having to look for lost receipts again.  A very simple, very easy system for keeping those important papers organized.

    It can’t get any easier.  Keep the binder at arms reach and make it easy to stay organized with your receipts. And your accountant will never complain about your financial paper organization again.

    Posted in Get organized | leave a comment » | Posted by Susan

    Jan 25th, 2013

    5 Bins that will Effortlessly Clear the Paper Pileup.

    Week 3.

    So by now your paper is all sorted and put away but wait more paper arrived every day this week. What did you do with it? Let’s set-up a system before we recreate the problem. Clear the paper pileup once and for all.

    2 Incoming Mail Bins: The biggest problem most people have is the mail. It’s comes daily and includes a lot of junk. For me the biggest problem is the junk. It has my address on it so I can’t just throw it out. Right? So now I open the mail by the trash can, toss the junk after tearing off the address, then put the things I need into the incoming box that needs to be filed, and another for the things I need to take action on. On Friday afternoon I will file the papers into my new file system.

    Receipts Bin: My other big problem is receipts. First they clog up my purse then when I clean out my purse on the run I dump them on my desk. Not anymore! I’m much more pro-active on removing them from my purse and putting them in the file box. Most of my receipts are for business and need to be filed in my monthly bookkeeping folders. I’ll share that system with you next week.

    Shred Bin: I finally gave up on those cheap shredders for home use. They are useless and time-consuming. I now put all the stuff that needs to be shredded in a bin. Last week after I purged my files I had “a lot” of shedding. 21 pounds of it. I brought it to the UPS store and paid them to shred. How easy is that? So now as soon as my bin is full I’ll deal with it.

    Tax related: In the beginning of January I set up a file for 2012 taxes. As the paperwork arrives in the mail I put it in this folder. That way when I’m preparing my taxes it’s all in one place. I keep it in the cabinet close to my desk and after filing the taxes I then transfer it to the permanent tax folder in the cabinet that is further away.

    So maybe my system doesn’t work for you. Maybe your paper is different but if you make an easy plan and stick to it then you will be successful at maintaining order. Come back next week to learn how I organize my business receipts. A friend that is a professional organizer loved this idea so much she uses it with her clients.

    Posted in Get organized | leave a comment » | Posted by Susan

    Jan 18th, 2013

    Create a File system for your Home Office.

    Week 2.

    Last week you did your visualizing and started your plan for the fabulous home office soon to come. So hopefully you did just that and have a list of things that you need to do. Let’s create a file system for your papers since that is what the majority of people complain about it in any office. Why is there so much paper in our lives? And it keeps increasing everyday. So take a few minutes and think about the type of paper you accumulate. What do you need to keep and what can you toss? What are the categories? How can you color-code your files to make it easier to maintain in future? Is one file cabilnet enough? I have two. One for files I need everyday and the other stores paper like taxes, 7 years of receipts, etc.

    Start by getting rid of anything that doesn’t belong in the office. Put it all in a box and move it to another room to deal with later, not too much later, deliver each item to it’s new home.

    The worse part of the process is purging and sorting the paper. So maybe break it up a little each day. Get some wire baskets to help you sort and set up a sorting station for this week only. Label your baskets and don’t forget you’ll need a trash can. Hopefully that will be full by the end of the week. I’ve read many organizing books and they all say to touch each piece of paper only once. Either sort it or toss it. Do NOT put it in a pile for things you don’t know what to do with. If you have too many of those then you didn’t plan well. Think it through and then revise the plan. Everything needs to have a place.

    Once you’ve sorted all the paper by category then you can start filing them all away. It’s not as big a job as you think. And when you chunk it down into smaller tasks you will be finished before you know it. If you’re having trouble staying focused then enlist a friend to help. Especially when purging. We tend to want to keep everything. A friend will not be attached to the sentimental things you are keeping.

    A tip: You may want to have a file for sentimental paper. I started a “smile” file for all those papers that I can’t part with for sentimental reasons. I pull it out a few times a year and trust me … I smile.

    Posted in Get organized | leave a comment » | Posted by Susan

    Jan 9th, 2013

    Organizing the Home Office 8 week Challenge.

    Week 1.

    organizing the home officeFor two years I’ve been planning to get the office in order and I start the process and then business gets in the way and I never finish. Worse yet, in no time at all the mess is back. So today I analyzed the problem and I see that I always do a temporary fix so things look better right away but I never get to the part where I install a system to keep it that way. A few months ago I set up a plan then got too busy to implement it. So maybe I should start backwards, first visualize and plan.

    So today I decided to make this a challenge. I challenge you to join me in decluttering and organizing the home office. I was going to make it a 10 day challenge but let’s get serious. That is overachiever talk and I don’t think it will ever happen. How about 8 weeks? We can do that. Right!

    Week 1. Visualize.
    Write a few sentences that describe how you want the room to look and feel. What specific challenges do you have in the space? Are there enough shelves, a file cabinet, storage? Is your chair comfortable? Get it all in there.

    Now….work out a rough plan that you can refer to while we work each week. Sleep on it and write down things all week as you think of them. Don’t dig right in and make the mistake I kept making. Let’s take it step-by-step and get it all done in a way that will allow us to stay organized.

    Facelift in 15: Set a timer for 15 minutes and clear off your desk. Don’t get caught up in it…just do it. Click these photos to see what I accomplished. Not perfect but not bad for 15 minutes.

    See you next week. We will create a file system that will give everything a place.

    Posted in Get organized | leave a comment » | Posted by Susan

    Oct 11th, 2010

    Get organized without spending a dime.

    closetStop! Don’t go and buy more STUFF so you can get organized. You probably have things that can do double-duty as containers, storage units, etc. Most likely the problem is not organization. You have TOO much STUFF.

    Am I right? But where do you start?? Start with the smaller cluttered areas. Should some of the things be in another part of the house? When was the last time you used it? Purge, purge, purge.

    shoeboxesAfter you purge need to sort your things and put them into zones. If it’s a room then divide the room into zones and put things away. But even if it’s just a closet or a drawer the zone concept still applies. I use small boxes in drawers to keep things in their place, or shoe boxes in the closet (but not for shoes). For shoes I use shelves, easy to put away, easy to find.

    Use a labeler to make it easy to find things later. Ask yourself, will this be easy to put away each time I use it? If the answer is no then find another place. This is especially true of things you use frequently.

    So analyze what you have before your start and see what can be repurposed to hold the beautiful things your decide to keep.

    Posted in Get organized | leave a comment » | Posted by Susan