If you work from home, your days are probably filled with multi-tasking house chores with phone calls, meetings and managing a hundred different things at once. If you’re like me, you probably often find yourself immersed in a pile of “to-do” without much of it moving to “done.”
I recently transitioned from working in an office full-time to working from home full-time and my life became a balancing act between home and work. Dishes were always staring me in the face, laundry was constantly beeping and the neighbors seemed to always “stop by for a chat.”
This never used to happen in the office. When I worked in an office, everyone was working as a team to accomplish a common goal. At home, you are your own team, often trying to communicate with everyone else just to keep up. I knew there had to be a better way.
I had the opportunity to interview organizing expert Donna Smallin Kuper, author of "The Secrets of Professional Organizers". Donna also works from home and loves it because it gives her extra hours in the day and more freedom.
She offered a number of tips to help me begin to organize an effective work-from-home environment:
Have a physical office space
A dedicated space in your home allows you to have all the information you need in one area so you don’t have to go looking for it. Set aside a room or a small space in your home, away from the television, kids, or any other distractions. This will allow you to get your work done more effectively.
Store your items in The Cloud
Did you bring a large stack of papers home from your old office? Don’t know where to put all the things on your desktop? Store it electronically! Technology has come a long way from floppy drives and file folders. If your computer was to ever fail, chances are you would lose all of it. Store it in The Cloud!
According to PCMag.com, The Cloud is a backup and storage service on the Internet. The files can typically be accessed with a username and password and most of the time you can store any type of file. The files stored can also be easily searched by keyword.
To start organizing your folders on The Cloud (or on your hard drive), think about the way you would organize a filing cabinet. Too many sub-folders may be confusing. Make sure you scan the large stack of papers into your computer and organize them with the rest of your files – only keeping what you need.
If you do choose to save online, think about paying for it. It’s sometimes worth spending a few dollars to store confidential information.
Stay on track
Donna said she has been able to stay on track while working from home all these years by prioritizing. By selecting the top three tasks that must get done and scheduling them into your calendar, you allow yourself to focus. When you finish one task, allow yourself to take a break or do a chore around the house.
When you work in an office, you have many breaks without realizing it. So, by scheduling breaks for yourself, you get more done.
After re-arranging the spare room in our house, sorting through the pile of papers on my new desk and re-organizing my computer, I am happy to report that I feel much more organized than my first week working from home.
I asked Donna what her favorite part about working from home was, she said, ”I love the freedom, I love that I can start whenever I’m ready and I can stop whenever I’m done.” I have to agree, the extra hours you gain from not commuting and the fear of someone stealing your lunch is gone.
Donna Smallin Kuper. Phone interview. 18 Jun. 2013.
Definition of:cloud storage. PCMag.com. Web. 13 June. 2013.
Edited by Jody Smith