What do you think about when spring is here? Spring cleaning – aargh!! And how about having to spring clean your home office and all those piles of papers you’ve been meaning to get to? I know, I know . . . believe me, I know! I hate cleaning of any sort, especially sorting through mounds of paperwork. So I try to avoid it by preventing the pile-ups as much as I can. I’d like to share some tips that have worked for me – the procrastinator extraordinaire:
Put really inspiring music in your CD player
Really. It helps. Or, if that’s not your style, do whatever gets you in the mood and keeps you going.
Give yourself a time window
Block out two hours – OK, 30 mins if that’s all you can bear at the start – whatever it takes to kid yourself into starting. That’s the most important thing!
Collect your piles of papers
Move all paper on the various surfaces in your office into a large box or other non-working-space area to keep them in one place while you deal them. This will give you a feeling of instant accomplishment, as you gaze at your cleared desktop. And when it’s clear, keep as little on your desk as you can. I know that’s not easy – I find it’s an ongoing challenge.
Review your filing system
I’ve changed my system a few times through the two successful home- based businesses I’ve run. As every creative soul knows, home-based businesses are notorious for taking over your life, if you’re not careful. Currently, I use separate filing cabinets to store different types of documents.
Keep your filing up to date
I’ve recently re-adopted my desktop lateral filing system that makes it easy to shove documents into instantly accessible slots, instead of letting them grow into another pile on top of my desk. That’s where I keep all my bills and action mail. You may prefer to use a 12 section concertina folder where you can file and find your documents fast. File weekly to keep up with the paperwork. Make it a habit and it won’t nag at you every time you come into the office.
Place three plastic stackable organizer trays on your desk:
2. To be Read
Use the round file
If it really doesn’t fit into your filing system or your current priorities, introduce it to the round file – the one on the floor next to your feet. Throw out or give away magazines, audio books and CDs that are no longer useful.
Consider a red action book
This can be a diary, or anything in which you can jot down all your actions and to do lists, to keep it all in one place.
Free up your mind
Catalog all your books and expenses on an excel spreadsheet, to free up your mind and make tax season a breeze.
Give your computer (and yourself) a break
Delete old or redundant files and articles from your computer to free up space and to refresh your mind as to what you’ve got. And back up your data regularly. Monthly would be good, but weekly would be better. I back up my projects weekly onto CDs.
Develop your own approach
I have two huge white pin boards where I tack all my “need to see” information. I also like notepads and index cards; I use them to write my ideas, action plans and goals. That works for me, but you may have a different work style. Try things and discover what meets your particular needs.
Make it a habit
Update your filing system regularly, about every 6 months. I know it can be frustrating and it takes time, but it’s more frustrating and time-consuming to search through mounds of paper to find important documents. Wouldn’t you rather spend 15-30 minutes a week instead of having to tackle mountains of paperwork? A little bit of effort every day or week will be much less painful and you’ll probably gain at least an extra three or four hours a month! Isn’t that a great incentive to spring into action and spring clean your home office?