H is for Home Office

Yes, it is true that 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, bank and financial statements all with tax implications. Then you have the long-term paperwork to keep, such as: tax returns, insurance papers, contracts and frequent flyer accounts along with addresses and telephone numbers. The list goes on and on.

Taking care of business

It does not matter if you live in an apartment or a house on a hill, there is a need to process paperwork and a place to do it effectively and efficiently. 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, respond to invitations, plan weekly menus, schedule appointments, make calls and store instruction manuals. The only qualification is to have a workspace and filing system that works for you. The features of a home office need to fit your work style and allow for adequate storage of supplies and files.

Papers, papers everywhere and if you are not careful they will flood your home leaving you searching for an important document or missing a wonderful opportunity. Establishing some type of filing system that makes sense to you will alleviate the PHD syndrome – piles high and deep. Forget what all the organizing books have to say about the right way to file; your system needs to be right for you! No doubt, you will need a tickler file, an active file, a reference file and a record of addresses and telephone numbers. These files need not be complex or cumbersome. Keeping it simple and versatile is the best policy.

Being organized is about saving time, money and energy. Make a place to efficiently run your household along with the necessary systems to maintain the influx of paper.

The objective of an organized home office is to be able to find what you want when you want it.

Label, Label, Label

A Professional Organizer’s Secret: “If you want to find something again, then label, label, label!”

File drawers, cubbies, boxes and baskets are a means of containing items and information until needed. Yet, if you want to find that important document you need to label — the key to any storage system. Labeling accelerates the retrieval process, and filing or storage system is about retrieval. Ask yourself what you would be thinking about when looking for a particular item. Throw away those preprinted labels and create your own wording. You can use verbs, nouns or full sentences — whatever works for you.

Julie Morgenstern, the author of Organizing from the Inside Out, states that “A label produced on a label maker, word processor or typewriter speaks with more authority than a quickly scribbled handwritten label in pencil.” So, take the time to make clear, bold, black, neatly made letters when labeling and see if that doesn’t make a difference. While helping my mother set up a filing system, we came across a pile of totally unrelated papers. I asked her why she was keeping them. Her response was, “Just because!” Thus, a new category was born: Just Because I Want Them.

So go ahead and make labels that mean something to you. By labeling you increase the possibility that you will find what you want in just a couple of seconds.