Organize Your Home Office Work Space

home desk

One of the issues that I deal with daily is keeping myself organized. I admit that this is a big struggle for me. If I don’t stay on top of it, I quickly fall into a mess of clutter. Working from home makes it tempting to turn your work area into a dumping spot, especially if it is in an out-in-the-open area. For example, my desk is in the dining room and you pass it on the way to the kitchen. It is easy for me set things down on it when I am picking up and moving from room to room. Before long, I can’t find my work items buried beneath the folded laundry and piles of magazines.

When you work from home, you are in charge of keeping yourself organized and motivated. Don’t fall victim to the idea that because you don’t have a boss breathing down your neck you can keep your area as messy as you want.

So how do you get your home office/work area organized?

First and foremost, de-clutter the spot. You can’t be well organized if you are having to sort through your kids homework and permission slips or old to-do lists. Step back from your work spot and take a good look at it. Often, we get so used to the unnecessary stuff being there that we don’t even realize it is there anymore. So look at it with a critical eye. Open your drawers. Bring the trash can over and start pitching anything that doesn’t need to be kept. And if it isn’t work related, put it somewhere else. Not only do those things cut into your work space, they serve as potential distractions when you sit down to work.

Once you have your space de-cluttered and cleared off, place your notepad in an open spot for writing out your to-do list. Even if you use your smartphone as your organizer and calendar, a notepad is indispensible for quickly writing down anything that comes to mind. If you are working and remember you need to add cream of tartar to the grocery list, write it down right then on that pad and move on with your work. Potential distraction diverted.

Purchase a couple of brightly colored file folders and use those to place important papers in. This will at least create a barrier between them and anything else you set on top of them, allowing you to still quickly locate what you are working on.

Continuing on with the file folders: as much as I love technology, I still find that the best way for me to stay organized is to print out paper copies of anything that I need to be working on. I am a tactile person, so holding the paper and writing directly on it helps me to internalize what I am doing and need to do. That is not to say that I don’t use my online calendar and reminder program to assist me, but having a paper copy also allows me to step away from my computer and still be able to keep my finger on what I am working on.

At the end of the day, straighten your desk. Don’t leave it a mess. When you sit down and face it the next morning, chances are you won’t remember whether those random papers are important or not. Don’t waste valuable time sorting and trying to recall something that wouldn’t have even been an issue had you just put it away the night before.

All of these suggestions are important, regardless of the size of your workspace. Having a large office space doesn’t mean you don’t have to be so stringent. It just means that you can create even more clutter.

There are plenty of ways to organize yourself. What works for you, may not work for the next person, so it is important to consider your work habits and styles as you get yourself set up. Keep these basics in mind and continue from there.

photo source: Stillframe

Sound off: How do you keep your home office space tidy and organized?

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DON’T FORGET to enter to win a FranklinCovey Planning System and free online session with LiveClick. Read more information and find out how to enter here.

Work at Home Profile: Janice and Susan/5 Minutes for Mom

janice-susan-blogher08 Name and type of Business:
Winter Marketing Inc. (DBA 5 Minutes for Mom)
Winter Marketing USA Corp. (DBA Pedal Cars and Retro Collectibles and A Rocking Horse To Love)
We have two corporations: a Canadian corporation that owns our 5 Minutes for Mom blog network and a US Corporation that owns our ecommerce stores, Pedal Cars and Retro Collectibles and A Rocking Horse To Love.

How long have you been in this business:
We started our stores early 2005 and 5 Minutes for Mom in early 2006.

What is the biggest challenge about having your business and family under the same roof?
Screaming kids while you’re on the phone! LOL
But no, seriously, it’s just as you’d imagine… work never ends and your family experiences you constantly running to your computer to do one more thing.

How have you managed child care (if applicable):
Until 2007, when Janice and I both had babies within 2 weeks of each other, we juggled our business and our kids with only a few teenage babysitters helping us. One of us would work while the other looked after Julia and Jackson.

Once Olivia and Sophia arrived, we knew we needed full time help. Now, we both have nannies that help with our children during work hours.

What is your favorite part about being in business for yourself? Least favorite?
For me the best part of being in business for myself is being able to think up an idea, decide to execute it, and then go for it! I’ve never considered myself creative in an artistic sense — I can barely draw a stickman. But I’ve discovered that I am creative after all.

The least favorite part of running my own business is the accounting. We have a bookkeeper, but still, the details of the financial side of the business bore me.

What is the biggest mistake you’ve made as a work at home business owner/employee?
My biggest mistake is one that, unfortunately, I am still making every day — not outsourcing effectively. It is a constant struggle to try to grow your business. You need people to help, but you need the cash flow to pay them. And not only is the cash flow tricky, trying to find the right new employees and contractors and manage their tasks is a full time job in itself. There are no easy answers to this challenge and we’re constantly struggling with it.

What is the best decision you’ve made as a work at home business owner/employee?
To team up with my sister and my mother and create our Corporate structure right from the beginning.

What advice do you have for anyone considering starting a work at home business or job?
Decide up front if you are going to be in business for yourself or if you want partners. If you are considering a partnership, be very careful who you choose. Even if you are confident your relationship will never turn sour, set out the partnership details in writing and determine how you would proceed if one of you chooses to leave the business.

In 2006, identical twin sisters, Janice and Susan, created 5 Minutes for Mom and it quickly became an essential, go-to site for moms that entertains and informs, while promoting the online mom community.
Janice and Susan’s backgrounds in writing, software development, business consulting, and ecommerce store management, along with their experience as mothers of young children, help them deliver their high traffic mom blog.
The twin sisters work at home managing 5 Minutes for Mom and the network of sister blogs as well as their two online stores: Pedal Cars and Retro Collectibles and A Rocking Horse To Love.

DONT’T FORGET to enter to win a FranklinCovey Planning System and free online session with LiveClick. Read more information and find out how to enter here.

Giveaway: Get Organized with FranklinCovey

It is always important to be organized on the job. However, for some reason, especially when starting out, when someone works from home, they are likely fall victim to the “winging-it” way of doing things. Nothing will get you started out on the wrong foot more than being disorganized.

This week we will be focusing on getting organized when working from home. And what’s a better way to kick that off than to give away some goodies from one of the leading daily planner companies?

There are lots of daily planners out there. But FranklinCovey has some of the most comprehensive planners on the market. Additionally, they offer webinar classes on organizing and planning.

I am so excited to be able to offer a planning system and online session to one lucky winner.

The winner of this giveaway will receive a FranklinCovey Complete Planning Kit and a session of LiveClicks of their choice.

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The Kit includes includes all of the tools that the Focus Seminar Attendees receive when they go through the training course. It will has dated daily planning pages, tabs in the back to keep track of your goals, roles, values and finances, a storage piece to keep your extra pages and accessories and some other accessories as well as a vinyl binder.

About LiveClicks:

Now anyone can experience the world-renowned benefits of FranklinCovey training, no matter where they live or work around the globe. LiveClicks webinar workshops by FranklinCovey are one-to-two-hour online training sessions that offer compelling content award winning videos, and live engagement with expert consultants.

FOR YOURSELF

Are you trying to improve your abilities but can’t afford to take too much time away from your home or office? With our weekly schedule of LiveClicks webinars you’ll experience highly engaging training right from your desk on a wide variety of topics. Award winning videos, exciting activities and live communication with the instructor will help you learn better and retain the knowledge you’ve received.

  • Save time and money
  • Get trained without the obstacles or cost of traveling
  • Increase your effectiveness and impact in your current roles
  • Decrease time away from your office and your family

To enter to win:

Leave a comment on this post.

You can also receive additional entries for each of the following that you do:

1) Twitter about the contest and link to the actual twitter (not just your twitter account) Receive an additional entry for each day you twitter about it, as well.

2) Write about the contest and/or Modern Media Mom on your blog and link to it in comments.

3) Link to it on Facebook

Contest will run until Saturday, May 30th. I will announce the winner at 5pm.

Many thanks to FranklinCovey for this fantastic giveaway.

Work at Home Profile: Jo-Lynne/DCRmom, blogger and blog designer

AVATAR Name and type of Business:
Musings of a Housewife, DCR Design, Chic Critique, Reviewsings

How long have you been in this business:
I’ve been blogging for 3 years and designing blogs for 1.

What is the biggest challenge about having your business and family under the same roof?
Balance. :-)  I fear I work too much.  Let me rephrase that.  I’m quite sure that I work too much!  But I love it.  I’m just not sure that my family loves it as much as I do.

How have you managed child care (if applicable):
I’m the childcare.  We don’t feel that at this point I’m making enough to allow for regular childcare, although that would be lovely.  My children are aged 9, 6, and 3.  My 9-year-old is in full day school, and my 6-year-old is in half-day school.  My 3-year-old attends preschool 2 mornings a week.  I try to use that time to work.  I would rather run errands in the afternoons with my girls; that way at least I’m interacting with them, even if we’re not doing activities that are FOR them.  I work at night after they go to bed.  And I do a lot of work when they are around, playing, watching TV, entertaining themselves.  They do that very well.

What is your favorite part about being in business for yourself? Least favorite?
I just love making my own hours and making my own rules.

What is the biggest mistake you’ve made as a work at home business owner/employee?
I don’t feel like I’ve made any grand mistakes yet.  I’m pleased with how things are going.  The only thing I could do better would be to have set working hours, but that’s very hard to do because our days are not highly structured so I just try to grab work time whenever I can.

What is the best decision you’ve made as a work at home business owner/employee?
I keep meticulous records.  Come tax time, it’s complicated because I have so many different revenue streams, but I have good records so my accountant (i.e. my husband *grin*) can figure everything out.

What advice do you have for anyone considering starting a work at home business or job?
Have a plan.  Keep good records.  Love what you do.  And don’t let your work run your life!

Work at Home Profile: Jenna McCarthy, freelance writer and author

jenna_headshot

Name and type of Business: Jenna McCarthy, freelance writer and author.

How long have you been in this business: I have been writing professionally for eighteen years, the last eleven of which have been from home as a freelance writer/author.

What is the biggest challenge about having your business and family under the same roof?
It is a daily challenge to try to separate the two. When you never “leave” your office, it’s hard to shut down your computer and turn off your Blackberry and just be present with your family.

How have you managed child care: When my kids were younger and not in school, I had help with the kids at home. At first I tried to schedule their hours selectively, but not much actual work was transpiring that way. I finally graduated to 35 hours a week of help—8 to 3, Monday through Friday, and carefully selected babysitters who were eager and willing to help with anything that needed to be done. If I had a light work day, I might play with the girls and the sitter would run errands—go to the grocery store, stand in line at the post office, whatever was necessary. It worked out great, and now that my girls are in school I actually miss having someone to help with those things!

What is your favorite part about being in business for yourself? Least favorite? I have absolutely no tolerance for long, laborious meetings and other office BS. I feel so blessed to be able to travel when I want, and not to have to worry about taking a “personal day” if one of my kids is sick or there’s a great sale at Nordstrom. I love not having to commute or frankly, even get dressed! (I work in my bathrobe most days. I am sure the neighbors think I’m some lush when they see me padding out to get the mail at noon in my robe!) The only thing I don’t like about working for myself is having to track payments. It can get uncomfortable when you develop this wonderful relationship with an editor, and then you have to call her and go, “So, any idea when I might get paid?”

What is your favorite part of working from home? Least favorite? I’m a total insomniac, so it’s nice to be able to get some work done during an otherwise frustrating midnight stint. Conversely, I’m also a bit of a neat-freak, so I can’t really sit down to work until the house is spotless. It’s a blessing and a curse.

What is the biggest mistake you’ve made as a work at home business owner/employee? Trying to do it without help. I mean, I work, and what I do is a job. You wouldn’t be expected to tote your kids to an office everyday and try to get anything done, would you?

What is the best decision you’ve made as a work at home business owner/employee? It may sound ridiculous, but I finally switched from a laptop to a desktop computer, and it was the best thing I ever did. Now my computer lives in my office (what a concept!), and I can actually shut the door and walk away. It’s so liberating not having that laptop staring at me from the kitchen table or the corner of the living room!

What advice do you have for anyone considering starting a work at home business or job? Get help. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Make sure friends and family understand that while you may be doing it from home, you are still working. When I first started writing from home, I would get daily calls to go play tennis or have lunch or drive someone to the airport. I kept having to say, “Sorry, gotta work!” People eventually got it, but it took some time.

Jenna McCarthy is the internationally published author of The Parent Trip: From High Heels and Parties to Highchairs and Potties and Cheers to the New Mom/Dad! Her work has appeared in more than fifty national and international magazines, on dozens of web sites and several anthologies including the popular Chicken Soup series. She writes from her home in Santa Barbara, CA, where she enjoys sculpting Play-Doh and scrubbing crayon from her walls. In her spare time, she wonders what she used to do with all of her spare time. Visit her online at www.jennamccarthy.com.