January Challenge – The Home Office

Every home needs an office

Every home needs an office to handle the business of running a household. There are bills to pay, health records to maintain, an assortment of receipts, banks, credit cards and financial statements all with tax implication. There are insurance papers, contracts and frequent flyer accounts along with addresses and telephone numbers. The list goes on and on. It does not matter if you live in an apartment or an old colonial home, there is a need to have a specific organized place to process paperwork.

A home office can be a closet, a foldaway shelf, a corner of the kitchen or an entire room unto itself. The important thing is to establish a specific location where you can pay bills, fill out registration forms, answer invitations, plan weekly menus, schedule appointments, make calls and store instruction manuals. The only qualification is to make the space work for you.

To begin the journey of decluttering, the home office will be the focus this month — including shelves, file cabinets, office supply storage area and excess papers. While cleaning out the file cabinet drawers, this is a good time to assemble and prepare financial information for the accountant. A life management skill that will keep you moving towards a decluttered life.

Over the past few years, my goal has been to continually move closer to a paperless office as I rely more and more on electronic and cloud management. This makes for less paper clutter, less need for file cabinet space, less mess. You, too, can go paperless with digital files, and I will discuss this later this month.

Cat on top of desk cleared of paperwork
The problem with a cleared work space is someone just might move in. 🙂

 

Get Organized Gadgets – Yes or No?

Home office features and accessories need to fit your work style and allow for adequate storage of supplies. As you wander around office supply stores, surf the web or glance through catalogs, you will see an abundance of gadgets that advertise, “Get organized!” Remember, it is not the tool that organizes you, rather the daily habits you develop keep you organized.

Going overboard with too many gadgets and accessories is all too easy especially if you fail to shop with purpose. First, take a look throughout your home and storage areas as you just might find an item that will work perfectly in getting your office in order. Most often, it is better to wait to buy organizing products until you have a clear idea of size and space required.

 

Papers, Paper Everywhere

Papers, papers everywhere and if you are not careful papers will occupy all your work space leaving you searching for an important document or missing a wonderful opportunity. So, today, let’s start decluttering papers on horizontal surfaces – the desk, chairs, cabinets, book shelves, the top of the file cabinet and any other place paper has accumulated.

Getting Started:

Get three boxes and label them as TOSS, FILE, TO-DO. Now start! Each piece of paper needs a quick decision then placed into the appropriate box. Keep up the process until all the horizontal surfaces are cleared.

Next Step:

  1. Cart the TOSS box to the dumpster. Gone; that was easy!
  2. Place the FILE box near the file cabinet for later. Pull out your calendar and set a date and time to work through this box.
  3. Tackle the TO-DO paperwork right now. Just do it!

 

Put your Tickler File to work

Time to sit down at your desk or table and actually tackle the papers in the To-Do box.

  1. If you can do something in two minutes or less, then just do it.
  2. If you need more information or waiting for someone to get back to you, then make a note in your calendar to address this issue on another day. Now file the paperwork in a Tickler File in the appropriate date.
  3. If you can delegate, then pass the papers along to someone else.
  4. If you come across something that is truly not important, then toss.

Click here to learn more about Tickler File System.

Do-it-yourself Tickler File System:

Tickler file system supplies - file folders and labels
Amazon – purple and white file folders with printed monthly and daily labels

1.  Amazon has a package of 2 different color folders combined with printed monthly and daily labels. These are file folders, not hanging folders. You will need a desktop container, basket or cardboard box to hold the folders. Click here to see one offered by Amazon.

2.  Hanging file folders work very well with a tickler file system that is stored in a desk drawer or near by file cabinet. They easily move along the rails allowing for easy access. I prefer to use Pendaflex file folders because they are reinforced at the top and bottom. These folders will last a long time and take a beating as you daily access paperwork stored inside. You will need 30 for the days and 12 for the months.

3.  If space is limited and you have a small amount of paperwork, you might consider using Pendaflex acrylic-coated expandable indexed file.

 

Life Management Skill

Having a means of sorting and a place to store important date-sensitive paperwork is an important life management skill that will keep your desk and other horizontal surfaces cleared. The Tickler File System works quite well if you get into the habit of accessing and reviewing it every day.

 

Questions?  Just fill in the comment section below and I will help you get a tickler file system set up.

That’s it for the first step in clearing the clutter in your home office. I’ll post another step soon.

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