Home office organization, how do you keep it?

home office organization

Are you still working from home? If the answer is yes, then it may be a challenge to keep your home office organized.  I published some tips to create a home office area that maximizes productivity.  Today, I will focus on how to set up equipment and materials to keep them organized.  With them will be easier to keep your home office organization.

Set in order to create and keep the home office organization

Following the second 5S steps, Set in Order, assign the best location for the equipment and materials you need.  The frequency of use and ease of access and return determine the best place.  Most used items go closer to the user.  For example, if you use different color pens or highlights frequently, keep them on top of the desk and not in a drawer.

If you are using the space as your home control center, keep clear boundaries between both worlds. That is to say, do not mix work or home documents in your files. As a general rule, home or personal items should go farther from your work area.

Take advantage of the walls to hang calendars, whiteboards, or task boards.  Also, you can use shelves to keep binders, books, or folder organizers.   Open shelves are always better than cabinets because you see at a glance where your items are.  Similarly, if you need boxes, use them clear to see through.

Use drawer organizers or containers to keep small items in place.  Organize your drawers or shelves into categories.  The following are examples of frequent classifications.  

  • printing and filing supplies – paper, folders, index pages, binders
  • writing – pens, pencils, markers, highlighters, note pads, sticky notes
  • mailing supplies – envelopes, labels, stamps
  • tools – scissors, rulers, staple, staples remover, hole puncher

Use visual management to signal when something needs your attention

To manage your time better, you would like to minimize the searching time.  Therefore, it is a good idea to use labels or color-coding.  If you use cabinets or boxes to file or keep materials, label them to know what is inside.  If it is necessary to keep files at home, classify them.  For example, some divisions are budget, marketing, and inventory.  After that, establish a different color for each category.

The space you use as a home office is prime.  Maximize its use by avoiding excess office supplies inventory.  One way to do that is by creating inventory rules.  First, you set minimum and maximum levels for each item.  Then, mark the inventory limits to make them visible.   For example, use color paper to signal when you need more paper.  When you open the new rem, put a red or orange sheet at the appropriate height.  Once you take a bunch containing your mark, it is time to buy more.

When other family members are at home during your working hours, you need a system to communicate your availability.  To avoid interruptions, create signage to inform your status.  For example, that you are busy in a phone call or video conference.  You can use color-coding here too!  One sign that does not need explanation is the traffic light analogy.  Use green to signal that it is ok to knock on the door and yellow to inform that you are busy.  If it is red, it means that you are on a conference call.  Like with any other signage, communicate the purpose and meaning.

In conclusion, working from home requires the same organization and time management skills as working in the office.  The challenge is that the space is not off-limits to other members of the family. To keep the organization, you need to establish systems to identify at a glance and correct when something is out of place.  

5 Tips to improve your time management

Use a calendar or agenda to make your tasks visible and improve your time management.

In my last blog, I discuss 5 symptoms of poor time management skills.  This time, I want to share 5 tips to improve your time management. This is a critical skill for entrepreneurs and managers.  

Tips to improve your time management

Set SMART Goals, Prioritize, and Focus

One important task for every manager or entrepreneur is to set business goals, or at least participate in the process of setting them.  Likewise, it is a good practice to set personal goals.  Both types need to be SMART, specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based.  Strategies fail because they are either not clear, objectives are unrealistic, or the communication is poor.  To avoid failure, it is key to follow a good strategy deployment and goal setting method.  Having clear goals helps prioritize and makes it easier to stay focused on what is important.  

Schedule your tasks

Break each goal into smaller pieces and schedule them through the year depending on priority.  Create and maintain a to-do list based on the tasks that stem from those pieces.  Make the objectives, plans, list, and tasks visible to ensure follow-up.  For instance, calendars, agendas, Leader Standard Work, and others can help with this purpose.  

While scheduling your daily tasks, allow enough time for completion. Avoid putting too much pressure on yourself. If necessary, track your time for a while for a better estimate of how much time you need. Be realistic about your available time to work on your daily assign tasks. We all know that things happen, so do not schedule activities for the entire day. Also, minimize stress by setting up meetings and events in your calendar 30 minutes earlier.

Checking your schedule should be the first and last thing you do every day.  Check on what you have on the agenda, complete tasks, incomplete, or those you did even start.  Establish a cadence or times throughout the day to check emails and adjust your schedule if necessary.  Above all, always think about the objectives and priorities.   In other words, before you change your itinerary or jump to do something else, ask yourself how that activity will support your goals or priorities.

Stick to your plan

One tip to improve your time management is to create a plan. However, you can have the best plan it can be, but it is no good if you don’t follow it. The top causes for walking out of a good plan are distractions and procrastination. Avoid distractions by turning off notifications. It is very tempting to read that organizational change email or chat with an old colleague, but either of those things will help you to complete your tasks.  Read the post, how do you deal with distractions in the workplace? for more tips.

To overcome procrastination, learn what types of activities you put off. Maybe you are postponing things that you don’t like to do. Another possibility is that they are too complicated or will have a big impact, and you don’t want to fail. Either way, find out what is bothering you and seek a solution. Sometimes, all you need is to ask for help or clarify the purpose or objectives of the task.

While executing your daily plan, focus on one thing at a time.  Multitasking does not help you to be more efficient.  People who multitask decrease their productivity by 20-40% and are less efficient than those who focus on one project at a time.

Choose your tasks wisely

Every day you receive invitations for meetings or assignments thrown your way. Therefore, you are at risk of ending with too many things to do. It is better to say no and be honest about your ability to do something than jeopardizing the quality of your work.

If you feel that the meeting or task is important, you can delegate it to your team. Take the chance to coach and train them to gain more skills. Sometimes, outsourcing is the answer to be able to complete some tasks.

Create healthy habits

One way to overcome some of the symptoms of poor time management is by ensuring you have healthy habits. Sleeping and eating habits influence your energy and focus levels. As a result, if they are poor, they will negatively affect the quality and quantity of your work. For that reason, it is worth the try to change them.

Having an exercise routine is another healthy habit with lots of benefits for our work. Reduces stress, anxiety, improve your mood, give you more energy, and of course, helps your overall health. If you don’t have one, start with small steps, like going for a short walk in your break. You can also set a daily steps goal and measure it throughout the day for motivation.

Conclusion

If you want to improve your productivity, follow these tips to improve your time management. The 5 tips are, set SMART goals and prioritize, schedule your tasks, stick to your plan, choose wisely what to do, and create healthy habits. It takes time and consistency to create new habits, but you can do it. The benefits overcome the inconvenience. In summary, managing your time effectively will help you to accomplish more in less time, giving you the opportunity to enjoy yourself with family and friends.

Is multitasking effective to increase productivity?

Multitasking is a common strategy to try to deliver tasks on time. Do you know what the number one excuse to not complete something on time is? Yes, you guessed it, it’s a lack of time. Time management skills are critical for personal and professional success. Single parents and entrepreneurs are among those who need time management super skills.

The way you handle time determines whether or not you complete all the tasks you have scheduled. Being organized is one of those skills that help to manage your time better. Most people think that multitasking is an ability that helps to increase productivity but is not.

What science says about multitasking

People who multitask decrease their productivity by 20-40% and are less efficient than those who focus on one project at a time. Time lost switching among tasks increases the complexity of the tasks (University of Michigan)

Research in neuroscience tells us that the brain doesn’t do more than one task at a time. Each time we move from one thing to another, there is a start-stop process in the brain. In other words, each time you change tasks, you have to refocus your brain and determine what to do. Multitasking should be called switch-tasking and does not help productivity. For better time management, try the following things.

Skills you need to master time management

  1. Organization
    • Practice 5S in your office or work area
    • Organize your meetings and tasks throughout the day. Meetings are better early during the day because the time leading up to an event is often wasted.
    • Separate your routine, automatic tasks from the strategic ones. Strategic duties usually need a higher level of focus, schedule them for the daytime at which you are more productive.
    • Choose one subject for the day, for example, on Monday I work with everything related to budget and Tuesday is for project updates.
  2. Prioritization
    • Know your priorities and identify how you will measure progress. Assign deadlines for everything.
    • Identify the most important things for you and mark them on your calendar or agenda with a special color. Develop the habit of working with those first.
  3. Goal Setting
    • You have goals for your business, and you also have personal goals. Keep an eye on both, create the habit of reviewing them periodically.   
    • You cannot work with all at the same time, divide your goals for the year into smaller time buckets. 
    • Prioritize your goals while dividing in buckets, your yearly goals into months, month goals into weeks, and weeks into days.
  4. Planning
    • Be realistic while planning your daily activities. Regardless of how well you organize and plan, things happen.
    • Make time for the unexpected, plan for not more than 4-5 hours of work per day.
    • Remember those priorities? Always know the one thing you need to get done during the day and do it as early as possible.
  5. Communication
    • Communicate your priorities, goals, and plans with your team or family. Let others help you to be on track for success!
  6. Delegation
    • “If something can be done 80% as well by someone else, delegate!” – John C. Maxwell

Remember, working more hours does not make you more productive, neither does multitasking. Work smarter, not harder!

Do you need to declutter your desktop?

how to declutter your desktop

Do you have a personal computer? Chances are you do. In 2016, 89.3% of all households in the United States had a computer at home. In a country where 43% of the population categorized themselves as disorganized, it is safe to assume that their computers are cluttered. Keep reading to see how to declutter your desktop.

Cluttered desktop effects

A cluttered desktop slows your computer and you down. Like physical clutter, it negatively affects productivity. Electronic clutter contributes to stress, which affects your quality of life.

How to declutter your desktop

The desktop is not for file storage, it must help to navigate your computer easier and get the information you need faster. Declutter your desktop is easy, the following are ways to do it.

  • Clean up folders and pictures from your desktop. That massive quantity of files and pictures on your desktop are in the incorrect place.
  • Create folders to keep the documents organized by subject.
  • Take advantage of cloud services to keep your pictures. Organize them in a way that is efficient for you: by date, event or place.
  • Do not clutter your desktop with shortcuts, use them for those applications that you use more often only.

Stop wasting time searching for documents or shortcuts on your desktop. Cut the searching time and avoid distractions to improve productivity.

What are the benefits of getting organized?

What are the benefits of getting organized at work
Get organized at work, and relax!

The ultimate goal of every professional is to achieve a work-life balance. I am not an exception. When my career started to grow, I found myself with not enough time to do the things I like. After a while, I realized that organizing myself and my daily work was the only solution. But getting organized have more benefits.

Top 5 benefits of getting organized at work

The top five reasons to get organized are the following.

Improved productivity

Being organized will help you to focus on the important, not the clutter. Therefore it will be easier to focus on what you have ahead of you. As a result, you have more chances to achieve your daily goals. Organizing will also save you the time of looking for things. Also, you will cut distractions because you will not have to ask around where the report is.

Better time management

It is necessary to organize your tasks also. Two familiar tools are calendars and task lists. The efficient use of them will enable you to prioritize those tasks. Besides, set daily and weekly objectives based on the year goals, you want to accomplish. Prioritizing will make you more flexible because you will react better to any changes or unexpected situations.

Reduced stress

No clutter equals less stress. Consequently, your work environment will be pleasant. This type of environment improves morale and motivation. Achieving your goals give you a great sense of accomplishment.

Promotes improvements

A clean and organized work area pinpoints trouble areas, making it easier to identify future improvements.

Better work-life balance

If you do more in less time, you can use the extra time to create balance in your life. Less stress and a reduced sense of being overwhelmed will leave you with more energy at the end of the day. Now you can go to the gym, or take a walk!

Tools for getting organized

Besides calendars and agendas, in continuous improvement, we use the following tools. Use the links to learn about each.

  • 5S – 5S is the five steps program for housekeeping and workplace organization.
  • Visual management – Color coding, signage, and others are simple organizing solutions.
  • Kanban – Although it is known as a material inventory control tool, it can be used for information or document control. This post shows you some kanban examples.

Are you ready to getting organized?

Being organized have a lot of advantages. I listed a few reasons, but there are a lot more. Find your reason, and get organized today!