One effect of COVID-19 has been the shuttering of office spaces to help slow the spread of the virus — meaning that many of us found ourselves spending a great deal more time in our home offices. If you struggle with staying productive and focused in your home office space, you’re not alone!
Luckily, putting in the time to make a few simple changes around your office space can go a long way in creating an environment that’s more conducive to getting work done.
Begin by removing EVERYTHING from your desk. Give it a good dusting and clean off your area to get a fresh start. Toss the pens that are out of ink, the bent paper clips, and anything else that may have accumulated.
Then, slowly begin to add your things back to the desk, one item at a time, as you go through the motions of a workday. Be mindful of what items you really need. If you’re constantly reaching for a pen or pad of paper, set these up within easy reach. But if you realize you haven’t touched that dusty pad of Post-Its in months, toss them.
Consider whether you’re able to sit comfortably and look at your monitor and use your keyboard and mouse, or if you need to elevate it, lower your chair, or even invest in some new office furniture. Think beyond your practical work needs, too. What could you add to your space to brighten it, make you feel happy, and get your creative juices flowing? Adjust your lighting, add photos or pieces of art, and set up some plants to create a calm space that will help you focus.
Remember that most home offices don’t need to be high tech. If you have a fax machine, printer, scanner, or shredder that’s just gathering dust and creating a messy appearance with its tangles of cords, don’t be afraid to get rid of it. On the occasions that you need these devices, you can access them at your local PostNet!
We’re all guilty of letting papers pile up. Especially if you’re not used to using your home office on a regular basis for work, your desk may have become a receptacle for those “important” papers — you know, the ones you’ll definitely get around to filing later. But having loose papers laying around doesn’t just hurt your organization and make it difficult to locate important items. It can also have a major effect on your mental state! Being surrounded by clutter creates anxiety and derails focus.
Take some time to clean up your papers. Throw away whatever you can, then make a pile of important documents to scan and shred (tip: your local PostNet center can help you with this!). In addition to clearing out clutter, digitizing documents is the best way to preserve important information and makes it easier to access files by running a simple search on your computer.
After you’ve shredded and digitally archived everything you can, design a system of organization for the rest of the items that live in your office. For the documents you need to keep hard copies of, organize them in binders by topic (ie, House, Medical, Warranties). Print labels and color code your files to help you find things at a glance. This will help you prevent clutter from building up again — when everything has a designated place, it’s easy to put it away immediately instead of leaving it lying around.
Try to avoid letting items become “out of sight, out of mind.” While you should keep your workspace as clean and bare as possible, you don’t want to get in the habit of shoving items into drawers, never to be seen again. Use open shelves and drawer dividers to keep items organized yet still visible. You might use a tray system on your desk to keep “to-dos” and help you establish a workflow, but remember that this should only be a temporary holding place, and your notes should move along when you’re finished with them — to the recycling bin, the shredder, or the proper spot in your binder or filing cabinet.
Whether you’re working from home temporarily or long term, take advantage of this opportunity to check in with your space and make sure it’s working for you. Even if you only use it occasionally, it’s essential to have an area in your home where you can focus and get things done. Need help scanning, shredding, and creating labels to get organized? Stop by your local PostNet center today to get started!