You don’t have to be a Fortune 500 CEO to need a functional office that lets your creativity spark and productivity rise. Every human being has at least a few administrative responsibilities to stay on top of it – filing, finances, e-mail, communicating with different companies, friends, business partners, that sort of thing.
Wouldn’t it be amazing to have an actual place to sit while taking care of business, ideally with no unsorted paper piles around, on an actual desk or table that allows for some writing space? Maybe having a hanging system on the wall for all the ongoing projects or incoming mail? A drawer for supplies? Possibly even (God forbid) a folder or binder for your paperwork?
Whether you are paying household bills from your master bedroom, running a rising online business or the next Forbes 500 company, you have to have an appropriate space in which to work!
There are four main points to take into account when creating your ideal workspace – no matter where.
Lay-out of your working haven
Very important, yet often neglected is something called “Ergonomics”. What the bloomers is that you ask? Well, it is the science of creating a biomechanically-pleasing environment – in other words making sure that your neck, your back, or carpal tunnel are no longer in pain and bothering you. What will accomplish this honorable goal?
- How about a monitor positioned at eye level?
- A desk height that encourages flat wrists?
- Perpendicular torso/thigh alignment while sitting?
Also placing everything you need regularly within arm’s reach. No more bending, stretching or even hiking across the room to get at your equipment.
TIP 1: Don’t waste active storage hoarding ridiculous quantities of supplies. Only keep what you need nearby. The rest (if need be) put in a closet or cabinet, even a pretty storage box – but organized!
Lastly with an “L” or “U” shaped workstations you gain the most efficient set-up with plenty of room to comfortably manoeuvre on all sides.
Unrevealed or Forgotten To-Do’s
The best productive, creative system in a beautiful ergonomically designed office are useless when your desk is covered in unopened mail and various undone to-dos.
If it is like in my house, mail comes flooding in every day, and so are so little papers and lists my husband writes our little to-do’s on. Do you know the feeling, when you are looking for that paper where you wrote down quickly the phone number of the new client or friend and just can’t find it? Do those papers suddenly got legs and ran away?
More likely is that there is simply no system for the incoming paperwork and you need one!
TIP 2: Use your walls for a vertical visible system that is easy to understand for everybody involved. I love the organizers from Pottery Barn. A more cost-effective solution is offered by IKEA or just DIY. For that, all you need is a crafty person, tools, some paint and a tutorial that you can find easily on Pinterest for example.
So, whatever you receive daily – be it mail via postal service, letters from your kids’ school, notes from business meetings – sort them in categories. A first step can be to just weed out the crap (sorry, junk mail and advertisement) and decide what needs to be done with the remaining mail, notes and papers.
I recommend having those categories as a basic, you can rename them to your liking tailoring them to your needs:
- To Read
- To Pay
- To File
- To Respond
Then set aside time in your calendar (that’s right – schedule an appointment with your papers) each week to tackle each of those tasks.
A Home for the Papers
Congratulations! You’ve done the first 2 steps to win the war with your papers and integrate them lovingly into your family.
The papers that are tackled and the to-do’s are finished now need a home to live in. Here it is up to your liking, the country you live in (aka what is culturally preferred and available) if you use boxes, files or binders.
The important part is that the home for your papers is structured – logical, orderly, well-maintained, easy and simple to find and keep up.
TIP 3: Do not jam a bunch of (un-)related papers into bags, folders or binders – it is not a system, just a cramped, cluttered and neglected hut.
Start with broad categories, then divide each of those into logical subcategories. You can arrange your main topics alphabetically, you can color-code them. You can do the same with the subcategories. You can file your papers within each subcategory chronologically – some like the latest paper on top, some like it the other way around. It is really up to you, your likings, your needs.
IMPORTANT: You should never have to guess where to put (or find) a piece of paper again.
Papers and Time Management
You may wonder what papers and time management have to do with one another – they have a very important relationship actually and are the reason why many of my clients (and me at one point as well) are not succeeding in tackling their papers long-term.
Get a calendar, I don’t care which one. It can be paper, electronic,…
It needs a place to track upcoming appointments and to-dos. Note them down important details whenever possible and have it handy:
- office hours (when interacting with businesses)
- phone number (for will-call)
- addresses (for out-and-about activities)
- shoppings lists (for running errands)
It makes life sooo much easier.
TIP 4: Avoid multiple calendars – chances are much higher you forget a meeting or double-book yourself. Super embarrassing. I have been there when I had a private calendar and a business calendar. Now I love and use the life-planner.
Was that information helpful to you?
What are you struggling with?
Just drop me a line via email, connect with me via my website, simply comment on the blog or join me for my guided and FREE day to “Conquer Your Paper Mountains”.
For my “Conquer Your Paper Mountains” Day reserve Monday, March 20th, 2017 from 10 am CET (or 9 GMT) until 7 pm CET (or 6pm GMT). Don’t forget to send me your name and email until the link to join is up and running, which should be in the next couple of days.
I’m looking forward hearing back from you – whatever way you choose and share your paper-experiences with me. I love to cheer you on.