modernizeblogphoto.pngWhether you use your home office as a regular work space for telecommuting or running a business from home, or just as a place to pay bills, it needs to be organized so you don’t lose important documents or waste time hunting for essential objects or information. Here are 9 tips to keep your home office organized and decluttered so you can get your work done in record time with less stress.

Don’t Mix Business and Pleasure
A home office is a work space. If you’re running a home-based business, the first step in organizing a home office is removing everything not work-related from your office area. According to the Internal Revenue Service, a home office is only deductible if it is used exclusively for business purposes. Of course, if you’re not planning to take the home office deduction, your office can double as a craft room or guest room. But do yourself a big favor – create separate zones for those separate purposes.

Ergonomics Matter
If you spend several hours a day working in your home office, proper selection and organization of your work space will result in more personal comfort as well as less fatigue. Choose an office chair with good back support, a desk that raises your computer screen to eye level, and a keyboard tray to position your hands naturally without hunching your shoulders.

Create Stations
Divide your space into stations, with objects you use together grouped together. For example, create a printer area with spare paper and printer cartridges and a mailing area with address labels, stamps, and envelopes. You might also consider creating a home office supply center to store extra paper clips, notepads, pens and pencils, and other items.

Filing Systems
How much filing space do you need? When buying a desk, choose a model with one or more built-in file drawers where you can store the folders you access most often. Or add one or more standard or rolling file cabinets. Sort your files into major categories and place papers in clearly labeled hanging file folders. (You can skip the interior file folders.)

Pruning Files
In many business, you are legally required to keep files for many years. For example, the IRS suggests that you keep certain tax records for a full six years along with documentation for the current tax year. At least once a year, go through your files and divide them into three categories – current files, archival files, and obsolete files. Shred the obsolete files and move the archival files that you need to keep into clearly labeled file storage boxes that can be stored separately from your current files.

Invest in a Shredder
Any paper that includes your name and at least one personally identifiable bit information such as an account number should be shredded before being discarded to reduce the risk of identity theft. Keep a shredder and wastebasket in easy reach of your desk chair to make it easier to get rid of paper clutter.

Scan When You Can
Reduce paper clutter by scanning documents and storing them electronically when possible. Organize your electronic files into clearly labeled directories on your computer hard drive and get in the habit of backing up all your files to an external hard drive at least once a week. You might also consider automatic backup to Cloud storage.

Use Containers
Organize the contents of your drawers with separate containers for pens and pencils, paperclips, staplers and staples, and stamps. Invest in a desktop organizer to keep frequently used items handy, including folders, your favorite pen, and a notepad.

Label Your Cables
Nothing is quite as frustrating as searching through dozens of cables and not being able to find one that actually works with the device you intend to use. Buy cable labels to clearly identify every cable and power cord in your office. Or simply label and use plastic bread tags.

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