Saturday, January 14, 2012

On The Job: Make Home Office a Productive Space

For many of us, home isn't just where the heart is; it's where the office is, too.

It's been said that productivity can be achieved when you are relaxed, organized and want to stay in the space. I have worked from a home office for 28 years. The first space was shared with the laundry room. I use to take calls between wash loads.

The second space was shared with the dining room; I used the dining table as a desk and the hutch for files, price lists and reference guides. Now my space is completely on its own. Nothing in this office is designated for anything else but my work, and that has kept me productive, happy and sane.

If you're not feeling good about your home-office space, here are four ways to make it -- and you -- more productive, happy and sane.

Find the order

Take an inventory of your home office. How much of the contents of your space are used frequently? How much of it has been sitting for weeks, months or maybe years? Before taking another step, declutter. Decide what office supplies you need; for everything else, carry it to the car and take it to a charity. This is a first step to a room redo, and you can't do a redo in a cluttered room.


When your environment is clean, your mind is free to be creative and productive. If you have old work, old newspapers or old magazines muddling your desk, clean them up.
This also is the time to put a fresh coat of paint on the walls. A favorite color and one piece of nondistracting art on the wall will do wonders for lifting the mood of your home office.

Set priorities
When your home office is devoted to other activities, it's hard to focus on work. You inevitably will be distracted by the other activity. So, figure out what items in your office are used for work and what items aren't. If you have a television in your office that is not used for work, remove it. I'm not saying that your home office shouldn't be personalized -- it should be, of course -- but if those personal items draw your attention away from your work, they have to go elsewhere. A few pictures and mementos can be used to personalize your space, but don't overdo it.
Now that you've successfully done the first steps, it's time to organize your remaining space. Divide your room into zones. Zone 1, storage, is for items that can go in a closet. This would include office supplies and rarely used reference materials. Zone 2, desk items, is for only the bare necessities -- pens and pencils, computer, stapler and tape. Everything else needs a home inside a desk drawer to prevent a cluttered desk. Zone 3, display, is for books and magazines. Use organizers that go on a bookshelf. These organizers can be grouped together and be reached in a moment. Zone 4 addresses light in your office. If it's too dark, open up windows, remove heavy curtains and replace with sheer shades, or bring in lighting fixtures. When you can see clearly you are more likely to stay in that space. Also make sure there is good ventilation and temperature control. If you are too hot or cold, you will quickly want to leave your office.


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