Only few things could be more blissful than running your own business from home. There’s no boss breathing down your neck. There are no boring meetings to attend. And there are no our-long drives in rush hour traffic.
While working from home can truly be a rewarding a experience, it’s easy to get carried away by the fact that you are on your own and are free to be many things at once. And you can easily forget the basic rules of running a successful business when it’s 10 hours of just you, your computer, and the distractions of your home.
To stay on track while running a home-based business, you need to be organized. How organized your home business is can largely determine the success of your home-based business. This post discusses five proven tips on how to organize your home business and keep it running smoothly.
How to Organize Your Home Business Office Successfully
a. Set up a dedicated home office-: Your first step towards keeping your home business organized is to dedicate a specific space in your home to running your business. This space must be easily assessable (that is, your work time must not be affected by other family member’s schedules).
In addition, your home office must be quiet and free from all forms of distraction. You don’t want your client to hear your little girl crying or giggling in the background when they are discussing serious business with you on phone.
Most importantly, your home office must be comfortable. You will waste a significant part of your day if you have to pause your work once in every ten minutes just to stretch your legs because your chair isn’t comfortable. A quiet and comfortable office will help you start focused and enhance your productivity.
b. Organize your day-: How well organized your home business is depends largely on how well organized you are as the business owner. To keep your home business organized, you must keep yourself organized.
Many home-based business owners abuse the advantage of being their own bosses. Because they no longer have a boss standing over them and supervising them to ensure they get their work done, they carelessly allow time to slip away as they catch a few minutes of TV, fondle their pets for several minutes, or engage in other trivial tasks, neglecting their business.
So, to avoid falling into that trap, create a work structure similar to what you would have if you were working under a boss. Have a start and finish time, and set aside certain hours for specific activities. It is generally recommended that you spend the first hour of your day prospecting for new clients, then move on to other aspects of your business.
c. Avoid paper as much as possible-: A lot of time usually goes into handling volumes of paper. And you would save much of this time by using a computer, instead. So, it’s better to save your business documents electronically. This way, saving and retrieval can be done with seconds, and you will be able to achieve more within your work time.
While there is always the temptation to print out all information for paper “files,” make a pact with yourself to only print out information that really needs to be printed out. If you don’t resist this temptation, then you soon start dealing with huge volumes of paper.
d. Organize your papers (if you must use them)-: There are times when handling paper is inevitable, such as when you need to keep vital business information and clients’ documents in paper files. In that case, create a home office file system that will allow you to find important papers easily. If there is enough space on your desk, use a vertical filing system on top of your desk to keep your important files front and center. Any files or papers that you need to refer to frequently should be kept within arm’s reach.
e. Be a Jack-of-all-trades-: As a home-based business owner, you will play many roles. You are everything to your business including CEO, president, secretary, office manager, tech support, and everything else. What this means is that you must know how each of these individuals play their roles within a company.
Aside the basic skills of running an office, you need to also learn how to troubleshoot rudimentary technical problems. For example, you should be able to fix minor faults with your PC or photocopier, since you have not hired someone else for that. If you don’t learn how to fix such faults, you will waste hours of work time waiting to have someone else do that for you.
Now, you don’t need to become an expert, but make sure you have a basic understanding of tech support issues, bookkeeping, and so on. Aside wasting a lot of time, hiring someone to do everything for you will be too expensive.
10 Cool Ways to Organize your Home Office Space and Files
If you are running a home-based business or controlling your business from your home, one of the keys to being efficient and productive is to separate your business from your personal life. How? You can achieve this by having an organized home office for your business. This is where you will keep your files, communicate with your employees and clients, keep track of your bookkeeping, monitoring your marketing efforts and the results of each, and handling other tasks related to your business.
How organized your home office is could largely determine how productive and successful you will be as an entrepreneur. So, this is one aspect you shouldn’t treat with levity. Here are five tips on how to transform your home office into a conducive, pleasant, efficient, and organized workspace.
1. Find the perfect space-: Your first step towards having an organized home office is to ensure that you have a place set aside to serve solely as your home office. Your home office won’t be effective if you keep shifting it from your closet to your store, and to your guestroom. Instead of migrating about the house in search of the perfect space, select one spot and make it the permanent location of your home business office.
Your ideal space is out of the way of pedestrian traffic. You don’t want to be distracted by everyone that walks by. And the space must be unaffected by noise. You sure don’t want clients to hear your baby’s cry in the background when they are speaking with you on phone.
2. Make it comfortable-: Your ideal home office is one that is ergonomically comfortable for you. You’ll become less productive if your working arrangements make you feel uncomfortable. If your chair deadens your legs or your table doesn’t have the space needed, you will spend a lot of time wandering around the house trying out other parts for comfort levels.
Get a cushioned chair that you will remain comfortable sitting on for several hours. Get a table that’s not too high or low, else you’ll complain of backache after each working day. And leave enough space for stretching your legs and walking around.
You can ask a professional person to come to your house to assess your workspace for ergonomics and then make appropriate changes. Better yet, you can do this yourself using online resources that reach how to set up an ergonomically perfect home business office.
3. Clear all clutter-: Having clutter in your home business office will make it hard for you to remain organized. If you have on your table things that are not related to your business, such as your kids’ toys or books, eliminate those first. All you should have in your home office are those things that are relevant to your business. Nothing more!
After eliminating irrelevant items from your home office, you still need to organize the relevant ones. Have a cabinet for arranging your files and papers. None of those should be lying on your table, except what you’re working on at a given moment.
Apart from papers, cables also contribute to home office clutter. They trap dust, snag your feet, and make your office look disorganized. So, manage your cables by neatly tying them together using cable ties or raise them completely off the floor by sticking them to the underside of your desk with adhesive cord clips. To reduce your cables, consider using wireless devices such as a wireless keyboard and wireless mouse.
4. Eliminate useless stuff-: Keeping useless stuff in your home office can actually reduce your productivity. For example, you spend more time to find the paper or file you need because it’s hidden underneath several others that you no longer need. The solution? Simply trash all those useless files and papers, so you’ll quickly find your files and papers next time you need them.
5. Go paperless where possible-: Paper is one of the reasons why your home office gets disorganized quickly. The less paper you have, the less work you’ll have to do each time you arrange your office. So, try to replace the use of paper with your computer. Those files can simply be replaced with computer files. And those documents can be replaced either with Microsoft Word documents or scanned copies.
By developing a less paper-intensive system in your home office, you will not only have a more organized office, but you will also be able to quickly find your files and documents when you need them. Just use your computer’s search box, and the file you need will pop out of where you saved it!
How to Organize Your Home Business Desk
Workplace organization one of the commonly downplayed factors that could contribute to the success of your home-based business. Though keeping your home business desk organized and free from clutter might sound easy, many home-based business owners find it as one of their biggest challenges. Yet, you need to keep your desk organized because it is your home office where you will be spending most of your time as a home-based entrepreneur.
Now, you may be wondering why you should keep your home business desk organized. And you may think there’s no more to it aside that common sense dictates it. But there’s much more to it. And here are some of the benefits:
- You will be able to find specific items quickly. For example, you won’t have to waste a lot of time digging through piles of paperwork just to find one document you need at the moment.
- You will be more productive. The easier you can find whatever you need, the faster you will complete your tasks, and the more you will achieve within limited time.
- You will make a good impression on the people who get to see your work area. Though your office might be within your home, there are times when you may need to host customers or employees at your home office desk.
- You will benefit psychologically by facing a neat and attractive desk at the start of each workday, and by being able to focus more on your work due to the absence of too many visual distractions.
I hope you are now convinced that having a well-organized home business desk is to your own advantage. So, I will now move on to revealing some proven tips on how to keep your home business desk organized.
i. Separate personal and business items-: Many times, you do personal things at your workspace, such as paying utility bills and organizing personal finances. This might not be totally avoidable, but always try as much as possible to keep your personal items separate from business items. In fact, it’s recommended that you designate a separate desk within your home office for personal files—provided there’s enough space for that.
Keeping personal and business items separate will reduce clutter on your home business desk, avoid mixing things up, and save you from the temptation to work on personal and business projects at the same time.
ii. Keep your computer off desk-: Unless you have a desk that is large enough, it is recommended that you put your computer on a separate table, and place it at a 90-degree angle to your main work desk. This will allow more space on your main desk for your current project items and any office supplies you use regularly. To maneuver easily between your desk and computer, purchase a swiveling chair.
iii. Remove unnecessary items-: Your home office desk can easily become the dumping ground for many items that are not relevant to your business, such as your kids’ toys, photographs, books, mugs, and CDs. If they are usually being placed there by other people, always remove them and put them in their proper place. But if you are the usual culprit, then stop the habit; always place them at the right place after using them. If there is no current home for such items, place a large box or container in your office where you can put them for the time being.
iv. Always use your drawers-: Though most office desks have two to three drawers, most people leave items on the desk, rather than keep them in the drawer. Office supplies and papers are another source of clutter, so you need to keep them in a drawer where you can assess them easily whenever you need them. If your desk has more than one drawer, use the topmost drawer (which is easiest to reach) for items that you use regularly.
v. Create additional filing space-: Your desk has limited filing space. Even if you decide to keep all your files in the drawers, it won’t be long until you are looking for more room for files. Instead of piling files on your desk or the floor, simply purchase cheap filing cabinets or crates at an office store. Better yet, you can find an empty computer paper box and use it for keeping inactive files. Be sure to place these “dormant” files in a particular order, so you can find them easily when you need them in the future.
vi. Trash useless items immediately-: If you don’t already have a trash bin in your home business office, get one as soon as possible. One of the reasons why your office desk can get cluttered quickly is leaving useless items on it. When you trash those treated letters, old bills, dead files, and other items, you will be able to keep your desk clutter-free and organized.
How to Organize Your Home Business Files
According to some experts, how well you organize your home business office can have a direct effect on how efficiently you run it and how productive you will be. In particular, office files and folders can quickly become a disorganized mess if you don’t put an appropriate filing system in place.
Though you have the option of hiring a professional organizer to help you organize your home business files, this will be way too costly, considering that you will need to organize your files at frequent intervals. Most businesses cannot just do without paper, and this explains why business creates more than 30 billion documents per year.
So, you have no other choice but to learn how to organize your home business files yourself. When this becomes part of you, you will be able to keep your home business office organized and neat, and you will easily find any file or document you need at any time. Here are guidelines for organizing you home business files.
a. File new documents, don’t pile them-: To maintain an organized filing system in your home business office, you need to find a single place to store incoming documents. This can be a letter tray, a file folder, a basket, or a box. Most of the time, incoming documents are the culprits behind having your files disorganized again after you have arranged them earlier.
If you have all your incoming documents in one spot rather than spread out all over your office desk, you will find it much easier to deal with them whenever you are ready. And you will find it easier to maintain an organized filing system, since you can easily place them where they belong after attending to them.
b. Act quickly-: When you receive a new letter or other document, you have only two things to do with it: act on it or trash it. It is recommended that you have a special file folder labeled “ACTION”. This folder will contain all papers, documents, or files that you need to act on without delay. Any documents that require action on your part will go into the folder.
If your action file gets too bulky, you may want to break it down into categories, with each category going into separate folders. You can have folder labeled “Bills to pay”, “Articles to read”, and “Phone calls to make”. This will help you get your action folder even more organized.
For promotional mails and other documents that you deem useless, trash them immediately. Don’t be tempted to keep them, thinking that you might still need them. This thought is one of the commonest reasons why people pile up junk in their offices. Even after acting on any document, you might want to keep it for future referencing or discard it. Once you are sure you will no longer need it in the future, trash it immediately. But if you are sure you will need it later, file it appropriately.
c. File appropriately-: As for documents that you will need in the future, you need to file them appropriately, so you won’t waste several minutes of your precious time trying to find them whenever you need them. There are many ways to file your documents, but the two commonest ways are the basic alphabetic organization and category organization. You will make your choice based on the type of information you’re handling.
- Basic alphabetic organization-: Use this method to organize your office file folders if you have a large group of customers that you need to maintain. Simply write each customer’s last name, a comma, and then the first name on a label. Then place the label on the lip of the folder containing the customer’s information. Next, sort all of your folders by last name (and first name where you have two customers sharing the same surname). Then insert the alphabetized folders into each drawer of your file cabinet from top to bottom. Finally, label outside of each draw by the first letter of the last names contained in that drawer for easy reference. For instance, “A to E,” “G to K,” “L to O,” and so on.
- Category organization-: This method preferable if you are handling many different types of documents. For example, you can have a different folder for employee files, customer files, supplier files, signed contracts, marketing plans, and so on. Write the name of each category you’re organizing on a label and place it on each file. Then simply write the name of the folder to which a file belongs in small lettering at the top of the file. This will help you sort files easily into their respective folders.