• You’re running a household, so the first thing you need is a desk. Sorry, but you can no longer use the dining room table to stack papers and then push them aside when it’s time to set the table for dinner. Be creative when choosing a desk. It doesn’t have to be a traditional desk. You can buy an ornate one, or if space is tight, consider a desk that folds up or can be rolled out of the room. Your “command centre” needs to be stocked with the following items: paper, sticky notes, ruler, scissors, crayons, glue or glue stick, pencils, coloured pencils, pencil sharper, stapler, staple remover, tape, calculator, Wite-Out, and any other items you use daily.
  • An office area in some form needs to be near where the action happens in your home, usually the kitchen. You may have a home office on the second floor or in the basement, but there is no way you can run there all the time. To make life easy you need a mini office near the kitchen. And if you don’t have a room to designate as the home office then one of these mini-office solutions will work well for you.
  • Use a closet. Take out the contents of the closet and take off the door. Slide in a desk or install a shelf as the desktop. You can add shelving that will give you more storage options. You can slide in a rolling cart under the shelf and roll it out when in use. Don’t forget to add a light. To finish it off, hang a tension shower curtain rod and slip on a tabbed curtain so the office can be disguised when not in use.
  • Another option if you lack a convenient home office is to use a computer armoire. These pieces have doors that open and offer lots of storage inside. Even if you do not plan to put a computer inside it still functions as a workspace.
  • If you have no space for an armoire and cannot afford to lose a closet, then consider a simple rolling desk. You can wheel the desk out of sight when not in use, but as needed you can roll it up to the kitchen or dining room table as your workspace.
  • Another option for a small kitchen area is to use a cabinet. Place cork tiles on the back wall behind the shelf for a bulletin board.
  • As a last resort, the inside of a cabinet door will work as a makeshift office. Simply paint an area with chalkboard paint, or hang a few cork tiles or a whiteboard. Then hang a few tiered file holders that you can use to store different categories of papers.
  • Keep your desktop clear of clutter. Pens and notepaper can go in the top drawer along with the stapler and other essentials. Use the space as a workspace instead of a storage area.
  • To maximize your desk space and minimize distractions, keep the inbox off your desk. The inbox is meant for incoming items, and they come in by the door. So place your inbox closer to the door; that way as you walk by you can toss something in the box.
  • If the inbox consistently becomes a dumping ground of unfinished and “to do” projects then consider not having an inbox at all. Instead, deal with incoming papers as they arrive and put them in their home immediately.
  • Get to know your prime real estate. Keep items you use daily within arms reach. Then work outward from there. The items you use weekly should be stored where you can get them without getting up from your chair. The items you use less often can be stored where you’d have to get up to get them.
  • Designate one area as the supply zone. One bin, shelf, or large basket will work. This is where you should store all the extra office supplies. When you need something you can shop at home first, and when you are placing an order or writing a shopping list, you can easily check what you need to replace.
  • Make reordering a breeze by writing a simple list of the items and storing it by the supplies. Then, when you need to place an order, you can simply check off what you are running low on.
  • Using a hands-free headset allows you to multitask while on the phone. It is also keeps you from straining your neck.
  • Rolling file trolleys are a good solution if you need a bunch of files for a project. The files will be close at hand when needed, but not all over your desk.
  • To manage all the business cards you receive, you can either staple them into a Rolodex or slip them into a business card holder.
  • Get in the habit of writing the date on the back of business cards when they are given to you. Then, when you look at it later on, you’ll know when you picked it up and how outdated it is.
  • Remember that leaving things to the last minute can be costly. Shipping packages overnight and buying supplies and having them rush shipped are two examples. Check your supplies weekly and reorder before it becomes an emergency and you spend money on a rush shipment on a printer ink cartridge. To avoid last minute shipments, try using online shipping. Simply log onto www.usps.gov or one of the other major shipping companies. Follow the directions to select your preferences and pay for shipment. A shipping label will print, and a company representative will come to pick up the package. In many cases you can leave the package for pick up if you will not be home at the designated time.
  • A lateral filing cabinet can double as an additional work surface. Just use caution so it does not become a catchall.
  • Clip groups of paper together using a binder clip. Label the clip with the action you need to take—file, pay, sign, do, and so on.
  • Create a reference library for all the instruction manuals you want to keep. If they are oddly shaped, store them in magazine holders by category—games, software, and so on. Placing them by category in sheet protectors in a three ring binder is another option.
  • Professional journals can quickly go from enjoyable to overwhelming. To avoid unread stacks of them sitting around, try asking your local library to put them in circulation. That way you can read them if you choose to and in the meantime others can be enjoying them as well. On the other hand, you can choose to scan the table of contents and pull out any articles of interest. Lastly, you can opt to purchase two magazine holders, then place one years worth per holder, label the holders, and keep only that many for reference. Remember that 97 percent of what is filed is never referenced again, so truthfully, if you needed that information in the future, wouldn’t you just research to find the most up-to-date information at that time?
  • Give everyone in the house a tray for papers, including kids, as soon as they are old enough to take on the responsibly of checking their own trays.
  • Silverware trays, typically used in the kitchen, work well in office desk drawers as dividers and organizers.
  • To make more room on your desk, remove photo frames. Instead, tuck the photos behind the ribbon on a French bulletin board.
  • Shy away from using bulletin boards, magnetic boards, or whiteboards, unless they are for a specific purpose. Hanging one up without a specific purpose leads to them becoming a cluttered storage area for outdated items when they are not kept current.
  • A task board is an all right choice, as long as it has a purpose and is maintained often to keep it up to date.
  • Keep the reference sheets and phone lists you use most often at your fingertips by storing them by the phone. Place them in a sheet protector and hang them up by the phone and keep one in your car so you’ll never have to search for a phone number.
  • Have an oversized garbage can, without a lid nearby, and use it often.
  • Keep two smaller garbage cans next to the trash can to collect items to be shredded and recycled.
  • To take papers and files with you when you leave the house use a clear envelope with a tie closure or a clear zippered pouch. You can then grab it and go. The key is to empty the envelope or pouch when you are done so you can use it again.
  • Keep a can of keyboard cleaner handy. The nozzle allows you to spray pressurized air around the keys to blow out all the dust and crumbs.
  • As a safety measure, store backup copies of software and irreplaceable files on backup CDs in a disaster-proof box.
  • Screw a magnetized piece of metal sheeting to the wall near your desk. Then store miscellaneous items in metal tins with magnets on the back. Paper clips, push pins, and stamps all work well in the tins.
  • Keep important documents that you refer to often or personal items such as photographs up and off the desk by stringing a clothesline near your desk and clipping the items you need to the line.
  • Minimize horizontal surfaces, they tend to just be catchalls for clutter.
  • The floor is not an option. Period.
  • Make it a habit to clear your caller ID box. This can even be one of the chores delegated to a family member.
  • Since people’s contact information can change, write their names in your address book in pen. But fill in their address, phone number, and email address in pencil. That way if information changes you can erase it instead of crossing it out.
  • Another option for an address book is to store it on the computer. It would allow you to use the search function to find someone within the database, and make changes easily.
  • Keep track of things you want to do, like trips you’d like to take, movies you’d like to see, books you’d like to read, restaurants you’d like to eat at, and so on. You can make a list and clip it to your calendar or have one file per category.
  • Write a list of the friends your child likes to schedule play dates with. Then post the list near the phone so it is handy.
  • When you print a copy of directions stop holding onto directions printed off the Internet. Instead store them on the computer and print as needed.
  • When sending someone directions to your home, include a picture of your house so they can spot it easily.
  • Register your phone numbers, including your cell phone number, on the do not call registry at www.donotcall.gov to stop telemarketers from soliciting you.
  • All-in-one or multifunction office machines save space.
  • Control all the wires and cords by wrapping them in a cord bundler. In addition, clip on a cord labeler so you know what cord belongs to what item.
  • Keep track of the websites you want to visit in a folder labeled “websites to visit.” Whenever you have a spare moment to surf online you can pull out the file.
  • Once you have visited a website and you want to remember it, store the site in your favorites. Create a new folder for the category and then place the site in the folder.
  • Store books in your office by category. You can use a bookshelf and keep like with like, all the reference books together, and so on. If you are short on storage space for books remember to think vertical, use the floor to ceiling space. Another option is to install shelves around the perimeter of the office about eighteen inches from the ceiling.
  • Have office supplies delivered by ordering online. No more lugging home heavy cases of paper, and for orders over a certain dollar amount shipping is usually free.
  • If you like to save the boxes from expensive purchases that may need to be returned, you can do so without taking up a lot of space. Discard the packing material and fold down the box, then put a date on it when you’d feel comfortable throwing it away if you have not needed to return the item. Keep all these boxes on one shelf so you’ll always know where they are in the event you need one.
  • To avoid spending hours on the computer or working in the office, set a timer. Hours can slip away without you realizing it. The buzz of the timer will keep you on track and make you more aware of how much time has passed.
  • Schedule time to deal with office tasks like filing, making and returning calls, responding to emails, and so on. Doing these tasks consistently will avoid the pile up when it takes hours to get through the backlog

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