Of all the places where taking time for organization can PAY for itself, the OFFICE is it. Bills that are paid late because they were hidden in piles of paper waste money as a result of added services fees. Drawers and desktops filled with scattered office supplies cost you unnecessary dollars when you purchase new items that you already own but can't find. Invoices stacked in piles of paper on or around your desk make it hard to ensure timely collection. Poor lighting and uncomfortable work space will cause INEFFICIENCY in your work day, and may even lead to physical injury. And if all of this weren't enough, think of the impact to your mood and the added FRUSTRATION and irritation of your work day as a result of all this. Miserable!
YOUR DREAM OFFICE
Take a moment and imagine your dream office -- the IDEAL work environment. What do you see? What first comes to mind might be some fancy computer equipment, beautiful furnishings, maybe some plants, soft music, perhaps even an indoor water fountain to provide soothing ambiance. Where did those stacks of paper go? Pens, paper clips, file folders? None to be seen in this picture -- your dream office is likely a MODEL of organization with everything in its place and a place for everything.
MAKING IT COME TRUE
Imagine yourself in your comfortable chair looking around this space. How do you feel? Calm, relaxed, at peace? Confident that you are in control of your space, your business and your finances? Smiling yet? Can that dream become a reality? Of course it can! It may take some EFFORT to sort through the current situation, but the REWARDS will pay for themselves. Let's start by looking at the different aspects of your work space that can impact the efficiency and effectiveness of the work you do in your office.
WHERE WILL YOU WORK?
When setting up a home office, consider carefully the LOCATION. Do you need to be in earshot or eyesight of little ones? Or is privacy and concentration more important? Will this be a shared workspace, or is it solely yours? Answers to questions like these will help you determine the best spot to situate your office.
HOW WILL YOU SET UP YOUR SPACE?
Today there are thousands of OPTIONS for creating a workstation for virtually any size or shape of space you have to work with. To build in FLEXIBILITY for small spaces, look for mobile desks, file cabinets, and other big furniture. If your office space is part of a room of your house in which you'll be doing other activities, such as your living room or bedroom, you might consider a "stow-away" workstation so that you can close up shop at the end of the workday. This helps keep personal time separate from work time.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR EQUIPMENT?
Position frequently used equipment and supplies close at hand. Spend time making a list of these items ahead of time so you can plan the organization of your desktop to MAXIMIZE work space. If you print documents frequently, you'll want to be sure your printer is close to your computer. If your phone is ringing off the hook, have that on or beside your desk (better yet, consider purchasing a headset so you can keep both hands free for typing and writing). Install an electrical OUTLET at the back of your workstation for easy access to all the plugs and wires that modern office life demands.
WHERE WILL YOU STORE EVERYTHING?
On your desktop or in a nearby drawer, you will want to keep a smaller supply of paper clips, pens, tape, scissors, white out, envelopes, and paper. Keep the RESERVE supply in a storage area such as a supply cabinet. Frequently used files and documents should be quick to grab. Again, there are many options from desktop stacked holders to hanging wall racks. Choose the one that works best for you and allows for the SURFACE area you need to work on. Less frequently used files should be stored in a filing cabinet, either within your office if there is space or in another room designated for this purpose.
WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH THE PAPER?
This is one of the most often-stated problem areas for many people. You can spend hours getting yourself organized, setting up your workspace, and making it a comfortable environment for yourself -- only to find two weeks later the PILES of paper have returned and you are amidst chaos all over again. Paper is constantly coming in and going out of our work days. It is vital to develop a SYSTEM for managing your paper and files to avoid the build up of clutter and garbage. Think of paper management as a circulation system -- stagnation slows you down by creating added physical and mental sluggishness. When a document comes into your office, do one of three things:
HOW WILL YOU MAKE YOUR OFFICE COMFORTABLE?
Don't ADAPT yourself to your work space, adapt it to you! Consider your height, the length of your reach, your dominant hand. There are many ways to ADJUST the height of your computer monitor, your chair, and (for those of us who are perhaps a little "height challenged") there are angled foot steps to put on the floor under your desk. Pay attention when you use the phone -- do you typically use a certain ear more than the other? If so, position the phone on that side of your desk. Make sure your keyboard is positioned so that your elbows and hands are at a right angle to each other to avoid wrist injuries.
HOW WILL YOU MAKE YOUR OFFICE ENJOYABLE?
This is often an overlooked influence on the productivity and QUALITY of your work day. If you find your workspace boring, dull (or even worse - objectionable), how MOTIVATED are you going to feel to get down to work? The aesthetics of your work area can make the time you spend there more enjoyable, even when you're working on those dreaded tasks. Use plants, photos, music, scent, art, and pleasant fabrics and colors to create an environment you'll enjoy spending time in. Put your mission statement or inspiring quotes in frames within eyesight to keep you motivated and remind you of what you are working toward. LIGHTING is especially important, since it can make the difference between helping you stay focused or causing you to fall asleep! Use directed task lighting to illuminate your work, and computer screens and window treatments to reduce glare and protect your eyes. Consider using scented oils and sprays that energize you, inspire alertness, and create clarity of thought.
BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER
If you take the time to plan your work space for your own needs and preferences, you can create that dream office and reap the rewards that improved organization will bring with greater ease, comfort, and enjoyment every day.
Audrey Hood is the founder of Audís ní Ends Organizing. You may contact her at or 416-484-8122.
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