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Home Office Organization 1

Home Office Organization: Solutions to Common Problems

Whether you work from home or use your home office only occasionally, setting up a home office that works for you is not as hard as it might seem.

There are certain problems that most home offices tend to have. The tips in this article will address solutions to the most common home office problems.

If you have a home office organization problem that is not represented in this article, use the Ask an Expert or Contact Me pages and submit your question. I promise I'll respond personally and as quickly as possible.

If you have your own home office organization tip, share it with others in the section below. It's easy and you'll get all the credit!

Home Office Organization 2

Home Office Organization
Files & Receipts

One of the most common home office organization problems is receipts. If you don't keep on top of them regularly, receipts can pile up. Grocery receipts, gas receipts, shoe receipts, clothing receipts, dry cleaning receipts, you get the idea, and the list goes on and on!

While it may be a chore to sort through them, if you take the time to organize them once, set up a system and maintain it on a regular schedule, it won't be as burdensome going forward.

Here's the Steps I recommend:

  • Sort through all of your paper receipts. Throw away anything that you don't need to keep.
  • Separate the remainder into categories that make sense to you. There is no right way to do it. Just ask yourself how you think you would remember it if you had to find it again. What's the first word that comes to mind when you see that receipt or piece of paper? Whatever pops into your head is its category.
  • Store & Label them once you've gone through all of your receipts and papers.  Create the label according to the category you decided on earlier and store it right away.
  • Find a System that works for you.  There are a great many ways to store the receipts you need to keep. Do you hate using traditional file folders? No worries! There are alternatives:

             *Binders with divider tabs work well

             *Expandable folders that have tabs on top to label what is filed                  before or behind the tab

             *Magazine files to store your paperwork. Just be sure to label                   the magazine file so you know what is stored where.

             *Keep everything by year and then by month. It will make                       finding what you're looking for much easier.

  • Consider a Scanner: If you hate keeping paperwork at all, a scanner is the best solution for you. Make sure that the scanning system you choose allows you to file the scanned copies of the paperwork exactly like the actual paper receipts. Be sure to back up your files in the event of a computer drive crash. You can back up your documents onto CD's or USB sticks or you can utilize an online service for a low fee. These services do automatic backups on a regular schedule.  While a scanner like Neat Receipts is great, it is very pricey.  Just make sure you can find what you're looking for.

Home Office Organization 3

Home Office Organization

The second most common home office organization problem is books. Books can pile up. Reference books, cookbooks, casual reading material, magazines, articles and periodicals all contribute to the clutter and make it difficult to find what you're looking for.

I suggest that you start by sorting the books by topic. If, after sorting, you feel some books don't work for your home office, remove them to another book location that makes sense such as the bedroom, living room, etc.  Ask yourself: Where do you think it makes more sense to find the book?  In other words, don't store your gothic romance novels in your office unless you happen to be a romance book writer.

If, however, you do menu planning on your computer, then it would make sense to have your recipe books in the home office. What books you store in your office depends on how you use the space. Also consider how you like to work.

I also recommend that you take the time at least once a year to sort through your books and donate or sell the ones you no longer use. I have a hard time giving up my books, but I've never missed the ones I've given away and it makes more room for more books!

While sorting, you might come across a book you borrowed. Now's a good time to return the book to its actual owner!

Home Office Organization
Office Supplies

Home Office Organization 4

Another common home office organization problem is office supplies. If you're like me, you L-O-V-E office supplies!

I don't know why I like them except, perhaps, it reminds me of my childhood joy of getting new school supplies. Fond memories there!

If there's a sale, it's easy to get carried away. Stocking up isn't a bad thing, just be sure you will actually use what you buy and have a good place to store them.

The best way to organize office supplies is to put like things together:

  • Staples with the stapler
  • Stationary, cardstock, pens and pencils stored together, etc.

Check all of your pens to make sure they work. If they don't throw them out unless they have refillable cartridges.

It's best to keep all your office supplies in one area. You can store them in a closet or on a bookshelf.  If you need things more accessible on your desk, try adding some cute storage bins or containers.

Utilizing baskets will help you keep those like things all in one place. This will also help you from over-buying or purchasing items you already have. You can see at a glance what you have or need by simply pulling out the basket and writing what you need on your shopping list.

If, after sorting through your office supplies you find you have a surplus, consider donating the excess to a school, community center, church or senior citizen center. Put the excess to good use.

Home Office Organization
Electrical Cords

Home Office Organization 5

Now about those electrical cords that seem to be everywhere, let's tame the tangle!

This is a very common home office organization problem. While many things are now cordless, cords continue to be a symptomatic problem of modern society. Many people have random cords, and they have no idea what device they attach to.

The easiest way I've found to keep up with the cords is to label them. You can use a file folder label or masking tape.

For the surplus of cords that you're not sure what device they go to, I would suggest putting them in a box or bag. Fold the cords neatly and put a rubber band around them. Label them with today's date. Next year, check the cords and, if you haven't used it, you can toss it unless you know for certain what device it goes to.

For recharging cords for items such as a cell phone, Kindle, Nook, iPad or other electronic data storage devices, store each set of cords separately in a Ziplock baggie. Use a permanent marker and label it with the name of what device it belongs to. You can store them in a drawer and know at a glance what you need. I would recommend folding the cords neatly and rubber banding them prior to putting them in the Ziplock baggies.

Use zip ties or cable organizers to make those computer cords neater. You can also purchase a charging station to keep your electronics recharged and tidy at the same time.

Home Office Organization
Last Things

I hope these solutions to common home office organization problems has been helpful to you.

Once again, if you have a home office organization problem that is not represented in this article, use the Ask An Expert or Contact Me pages and submit your home office organization question. I promise I'll respond personally and as quickly as possible.

If you want to hire someone in your area to assist you, check out the Directory of Organizers on this website.  

If you have your own home office organizing tip, share it with others in the section below. It's easy! Others can benefit from your wisdom, so don't be shy about submitting our home office organization solution.

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