Working from a home office comes with many advantages, but it also has its fair share of challenges. One such challenge is organizing paperwork. Juggling both business documents and personal documents can be a struggle, especially in a shared space. Having a system in place to deal with the business and personal documents is a must! Follow my 4-step process to organizing paperwork in your home office – and never misplace an important financial or legal document ever again!
Step 1: Create an incoming paper system. This is the first step every time you begin to organize paperwork – whether at work or in your home office. To avoid the piles that become paper clutter, you should tackle the papers head on as they enter your space. Designate separate spaces for all the incoming personal and business paperwork. This includes the mail, school paperwork, etc. Having a specific space for your personal paperwork means it’s less likely to get tangled up in your business files. Whether you work at home occasionally or run your business from home full-time, create a system where all business paperwork never leaves your office. This will prevent it from getting misplaced and landing up elsewhere in your home!
Step 2: Location is important. The key is to store your files in an easily accessible location. If you can’t quickly access your files whether to retrieve documents or to file them, the more likely they will end up in piles throughout your home. You can store archived files on the top of a closet or in your home’s storage area as they aren’t often needed. Keep the action files you use regularly within arm’s reach of your desk.
Step 3: Organize the filing cabinet. Depending on the size of your home office, it might not be feasible to have separate filing cabinets for personal and business information. That’s okay! As long as your files are clearly labeled, you can easily keep them separate. You’ll need to label your folders with words or phrases that will enable you to quickly locate the information when searching for it. You can use colored file folders to distinguish between business and personal files. You can even use a simple two drawer filing cabinet, using the top file drawer for business files and the bottom for home and personal files.
Step 4: Don’t save everything. Especially in a home office it is important to discard all the extraneous papers upon receipt, so your office space remains clear and can be used for your current projects. Items like junk mail, catalogs, and magazines you are not currently reading have no place in your home. Get rid of them immediately before they turn into clutter! Shred documents with identifying information and recycle everything else.
Once you create a home office filing system, you’ll be able to easily work from home without feeling overwhelmed by paper clutter. This is even more important if you are working from a shared living space and trying to juggle paperwork for multiple people. Stay productive with an organized system. For more hands-on strategies for organizing paperwork, reach out to your NYC Professional Office Organizer.