home office productivity

This is a guest post by Keri Lunt Stevens.

It’s hard to justify allotting several hours to a home office deep clean when you have projects that are due and clients who are waiting. But, what you may not have considered is that your productivity is likely suffering due to the mess you won’t address. Disorganization can cost you in multiple ways including late fees, wasted time and unnecessary purchases (because you—ahem—can’t find anything). To make more time and save more money, use these tips to get stuff done:

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Barrier No. 1: Time

To break the barrier of too-little time, assess how you spend your days. Working out of a home office likely means you have other responsibilities you tend to during the day, whether they’re as big as caring for your kids or as little as changing a load of laundry. While it might seem convenient to be able to have the dishwasher running while you’re on hold with a client, jumping back and forth between the two could actually be costing you in time and focus.

Instead, schedule uninterrupted time for each. When you’re at your computer, be at your computer. If you struggle with online distractions, use a web time-wasting tracker that limits your use of them. Depending on your operating system, try MacFreedom or StayFocused. When you’re managing the house, manage the house. To stick to a schedule, consider an app that categorizes your house cleaning routine such as Home Routines. If you find yourself regularly interrupted by family matters, consider setting clear office hours so everyone knows when you are and aren’t available.

Barrier No. 2: Space and Resources

As an entrepreneur, you’re faced with unique challenges that established businesses don’t have to worry about. Tasks like coworker communication, data filing and invoice tracking aren’t distributed to different departments, but fall squarely on your shoulders. Look around the room. The emails crowding your inbox and papers scattered about are practically screaming “Help me!”

First, you’ve got to adopt a system you can stick to. Begin by purging the office of items you rarely or never use. Then, gather everything else into a pile and push it aside. Using larger items and furniture, create separate work zones such as your main workspace (desk and computer), reference area (filing cabinets and binders) and storage spaces (closet). Once you’re situated, reorganize like this:

  • Daily use: Keep on the desk
  • Weekly use: File it away
  • Bi-monthly: Stow it in the closet
  • Everything else: Toss it or find it another home

Once everything has it’s place, it will be easier to establish a workflow, file projects when they’re completed and address mail when it’s first received.

Feel better?

Now, do the same with your computer. Clean up your desktop by organizing shortcuts into folders and deleting old files. Decide on a consistent way to name files for easier finding in the future. For easier file collaboration, safer storage and clearer hard drives, consider switching to the cloud. Many services offer quick download speeds and customer service, and all protect against external home hazards like fire or computer theft. Unsure about the cloud’s advantages and disadvantages? Spend some time researching on a storage comparison site like Top10CloudStorage before making a decision.

Keri Lunt Stevens is a trained journalist who dabbles in editing, blogging and content marketing. Her experience ranges from entertainment and community news to personal money management and budget travel. She has unabashed dreams to inform and inspire, but she secretly just aims to help readers stop being stupid with their money. Keri spends her free time planning future trip itineraries, biking, reading and trying to figure out how to earn more air miles.

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