Working from home is a lot of people's idea of heaven. No more commuting in hot traffic jams. No more office politics. Spending all day in your pyjamas. But the realities working in a home office soon make themselves known. It can be isolating. Decisions often rest on your own shoulders, especially if you're your own boss. Motivating yourself to knuckle down when there are plenty of distractions is a challenge. And finally, the environment itself can be a less than stimulating space. Unless you follow our suggestions for making the best use of storage and create an inspirational home office, that is!
Once you've found a dedicated office nook, make it work for you. A sterile office space may look great in a catalogue, but it's a far cry from most people's reality. There will be folders, caddies, printer paper, cables, phones and memos. So, whether it's a kitchen table, a desk in the living room or a spare bedroom, a vital aspect of the home office is how you store all your equipment and documents. These have a tendency to creep and spread throughout the entire house unless you get control early on and strive to contain it.
The paperless office is a laughable dream, even with so many digital solutions available. So how can you store the endless rounds of bills, invoices, letters from the tax office? Spending a fortune on paper storage boxes from IKEA is a satisfying splurge, but then what? Are they piled up in stacks? Do you have them sitting in the corner of a room? Or under your desk, preventing you from getting your feet in? The easiest way to organise is to start to think about immediacy - what do you need to access most frequently? What will be accessed less often? What is just for the records? With this in mind, you can choose a filing system that meets your needs. Daily files should be in an open, easy-to-see filing system, like in-trays. Ones that are accessed weekly or monthly can use box files that stand neatly on a shelf. For the least accessed information, storage crates and boxes (clearly labelled, of course), can be taken out of view entirely, either on a shelf above your eye-line or tucked away in a cupboard. Box files can be found in most stationery stores and from Australia Post, but for those on display, choose a stylish set as raw cardboard feels depressing after a while. Or cover affordable boxes with wallpaper or gift-wrap for a quick lift.
The everlasting archives
Of course, for some business information, it is a legal requirement to archive for some years, but the length of time that a bundle of A4 folders and crates of receipts might need to linger in the cupboard can become a space-stealing nightmare - and it will only grow. Putting them in the attic is a nice "out of sight, out of mind" strategy, but what about leaky roofs, pests and mould? And what about smaller homes that don't have that extra safe storage space? It might be worth considering a service like Spacer, a marketplace for local storage. This service allows people to rent out spare bedrooms, garages and so on to earn themselves a little cash, so you can think of it as helping the local economy too.
It's a marathon not a sprint
To get fit, one marathon session of exercise per year would not be enough to do any good. So why should one organisation session be enough for your office? To get your home office fit, regular sorting is not only necessary but can become incredibly satisfying. Unless you enjoy watching piles of scribbled notes, computer cables, and document files colonise your workspace, you've got to schedule a weekly session or clean-as-you-go. Get over the "I might need this later" mindset when it is something that is just making your office oppressive. Get real, and get rid. If you're concerned some information might be lost, take time to create a new, preferably electronic, list for all bits and pieces. But most of all, create a system and stick to it for true home office happiness.