Many of my clients struggle with organizing their offices (home or otherwise) because they try to fit a “square peg into a round hole.” Meaning, they try to use systems and setup that works for others, but does not match the way that they think and function.
Recognize are you an “innie” or an “outtie”?
Innies are people that function better (are more creative, get more done, etc.) when their space is clear. They can frequently get distracted to other tasks if there are piles laying around. Tools good for innies are systems with drawers and cabinet doors. Only the project currently worked on is out.
Outties are people that would hold the thought “out of site is out of mind.” Frequently outties have sticky notes all over the place to help them remember tasks. Things behind closed doors and drawers would be detrimental for this type of thinker. A better furniture choice would be open shelving and open file cabinets (the wire kind on casters.)
This is good advice. If you aren’t most productive with an immaculate office, then don’t beat yourself up trying to keep everything off of your desk. This isn’t an excuse for being disorganized, but it is very important to recognize who you are as an individual. Just because someone else keeps their office in a certain way doesn’t mean that is best for you.
Don’t save paper you don’t need. I’ve seen lots of people whose file cabinets include nicely-organized utility bills for the last 10 years – and these are people who don’t take a home office deduction and have never once referred to the papers since they filed them.
I’ve also found with my own files that many things I used to keep in paper form I no longer need – I’ve replaced the paper with computer bookmarks in my browser.
Stuffing the file cabinet full of useless paper makes it harder to file the things you truly do need or want to keep.
I usually try to clean out my paper files once each year. This will be even easier now that I’ve implemented my paperless system. I don’t know how much harm it does to keep lots of files if you have a good system and don’t plan to move much, but in my opinion the less stuff you have the better.
Make sure you consider ergonomic standards as you set up your home office. You only have one body — make sure it will be comfortable in your setup! Desk height, chair adjustments, placement of tools, use of a footrest, and so on can all make a huge difference in your comfort and therefore your productivity. In fact, I would say scrimp a bit on the technological tools to have a little money to ensure your comfort.
I know that for me it is easy to get so focused on the technology and systems of my work process that I miss the simple things like positioning my chair correctly or sitting an appropriate distance from the monitor.