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     A Functional Home Office

More and more people are working from home these days as small business owners, entrepreneurs, and telecommuters -- so many people have had to CONVERT living space to office space in their homes. The way your home office is laid out and organized can have a great impact on your PRODUCTIVITY. If the space is not well designed, is inconvenient, noisy, poorly lit, or has a number of other problems, you’ll find yourself frustrated, stressed, and getting little work done. Here are some easy pointers to help you make your home office work for you.

You must locate your office in a space that is COMFORTABLE for you. If the basement is too damp and dark, the kitchen is too distracting and noisy, or the guestroom is too cramped for your needs, your ability to work there will be compromised. Most of the time, we don’t have the PERFECT space in our homes, and must make the best use of the space we have. However, there are methods of improving current spaces to help them work for you. In the basement, you could install a dehumidifier and bright lighting. In the kitchen you could use a folding screen to lessen distraction and create a boundary, and shut the kitchen door to reduce noise from elsewhere in the house. If you don’t frequently have guests, you could store the guest room bed elsewhere, and use vertical shelf systems and units to house your supplies, files, and office machines. With some inexpensive ADJUSTMENTS, you should be able to find a location in your home that will work for you.

One of the easiest ways to improve efficiency and effectiveness in your office is by designing the layout of your office to ensure the most comfort and CONVENIENCE, while producing least amount of extra effort. Some people like to face the door and are uncomfortable with their back to it, while others find facing the door is too much of a distraction -- know your tendencies before you set up your office. And pay attention to where you store supplies and equipment. If your files aren’t easy to reach or your telephone is too far away, your work will suffer and so will your attitude. The things you use frequently should be within easy REACH, and the items you use less often should not be clogging up your work area. Give yourself plenty of room to spread out as you work, while still keeping supplies nearby. Workspace layouts that provide the most ease are usually U-, J-, or L- shaped.

Sometimes we are lucky enough to already have furniture we can use in our home offices, but we need to make sure that those pieces will WORK for us. Today, many companies offer a vast array of home office furnishings at reasonable prices. If you are starting from scratch, you might want to visit some office stores and sit at the desks and workspaces they offer, imagining yourself PERFORMING some of the usual tasks at work. You can even keep a log of how you spend your days -- and a list of the equipment and supplies you need to store -- and take that with you when you shop. This can help you decide which pieces might work better for you than others. Using furniture that doesn’t provide the features you need will leave you more irritated than productive. And of course, don't forget the many items you ALREADY have around your home -- many pieces of personal furniture can be easily modified to create a functional "home made" workstation.

Creating and maintaining an orderly filing system will help keep your workspace UNCLUTTERED and your business running fluidly. While piles of papers and unread mail all over your area will bog you down, having too many files in poorly organized arrangements will cause the same problem. One useful method is to keep different categories of files in different DRAWERS. For instance, client files might go in the top drawer. Administrative files (paid bills, receipts, insurance, bank statements, invoices, etc.) could go in the next drawer down. Historical files (previous years’ records) can go in the bottom drawer, etc. Be sure to take a few minutes at the same time every day to file away anything that has piled up, or it might quickly get out of hand. Alternatively, file something as soon as it comes into your office, even if it’s into the “to read” or “pending” files; this will keep your work surface CLEAR as well as help you deal with issues in a timely manner.


Kerul Kassel provides coaching, workshops, and presentations to cultivate success, enhance satisfaction, improve productivity, and foster potential. She is certified by the International Coach Federation, and a member of the International Coach Federation. And her "Power Decluttering" course is available directly through www.OnlineOrganizing.com. You may visit her website at www.newleafsystems.com or contact her at 407-957-1494.

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