Working from Home is not a new topic – we all have been using home offices of sorts for quite a while: To pay the phone bills, to read emails, to research.
It might not look like an office – but even just a mobile phone can be a home office. Then there is a pile of filing at the end of the kitchen bench or school notes and homework at one end of the dining table.
With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic some of us needed to act quickly and had to create a set up that was and looked a little bit more professional.
With another round of changes, some are going back to their office, but others might have gotten used to the home office idea and will want to hang on to it, possibly for good or for parts of the week. It’s all in motion and everything seems possible.
A lot of us will have to separate their office desk, the surface we put our laptop onto, and the storage where we keep our files and stationery separate. This is likely due to us sharing the space with others in the family: a child conducting school via Google Classroom and ZOOM or a partner who also needs a soundproof space to conduct business meetings.
To accommodate these needs many of us a currently creating what the corporate world has been calling ‘hot-desking’ for a while – where you take your essentials from one desk to the other.
Be realistic about how much of the stationery you may have accumulated is actually used. If you do not use it now, chances are you never will.
Our Less Mess Tip: Use the time you would normally need to commute at the beginning of your workday and set it aside to declutter: EVERY DAY
Filing is about retrieving – if you just want to put something away, consider the bin.
Just reflect on this: how many pieces of printed paper do you have that you never ever looked at again – after filing or after piling it?
All the cover letters, instruction manuals, paid bills, shopping dockets, and junk mail flyers… The list is endless; whole categories that just don’t need filing – ever!
When filing a piece of paper, ask yourself: Will I ever look for this information? If the answer is no (because it is much easier to find online, it is outdated or you just don’t read the small print) put it into recycling
Where would I look for things and what name would that file/folder/box have?
Try this next time you look for something:
Once you found the item/piece of paper, put it in the place you looked for first. This technique applies even more to your electronic files: highlight the file, and cut and paste it in the folder you looked in ½ an hour ago.
… and subcategories and subcategories of subcategories:
Most people I know have far too many files and file them far too detailed.
There is nothing wrong with piling all your manuals in two boxes, labelled ‘manuals before kids’ and ‘manuals since kids’. If you really need one it will take a little while to find something, but you didn’t have to put much time into filing it away – and chances are high you will never need to find it or search for it online anyway!
Filing infrastructure is the containers and gadgets that keep together the pieces of paper we call files.
Most of my customers inherit a filing cabinet from somewhere and start using it, never asking themselves whether it’s the right system for their personality and their type of files.
Glenda, an Organising colleague of mine aptly asks whether you are a “chucker” or a “tucker”
Be very aware of the difference between what you want to be and what you really are!
Some files are better contained in binders; some are easier accessible in manila folders. Ask yourself and make a conscious decision.
Don’t put the benchmark too high. Just because you like the look of lever arch folders on a shelf, all nicely labelled and colour coded doesn’t mean you can maintain them.
Did you know its 12 separate steps to file something in a lever arch folder compared to 4 for suspension filing or just 2 for a shoe box?
Choose a system that you can keep up with. There is no point in rows of beautiful folders from Kiki-K that sit empty on a shelf whilst piles of paper the size of our oldest son (1.89m in my case) are ‘stored’ on your desk.
It’s much quicker and easier to file something away in a “car” folder, than in a “car” folder with a mechanic receipts subcategory.
It’s much easier to have a “health” folder per person where everything gets filed chronological (just the newest on top) than one for the whole family with tabs for all the illnesses and alignments! Here again, be aware of the rule that the more you access something the more detailed the filing structure and substructure should be.
I hope these tips help you with your new work from home set-up and you can make the most of it and turn your home into a work environment you truly enjoy.