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Managing Your Work Area – Keeping a Clean Home Office

written by: Joli Ballew•edited by: Ronda Bowen•updated: 7/5/2011

An unorganized work area can hinder productivity. There are lots of ways to get organized though, and the first thing is to get rid of all of your gunk!

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    There are a million reasons why your work area is unorganized. Your monitor takes up your entire desk, speakers are not hidden and cables are everywhere, the tower is either taking up space on the desk or unattainable under it, or you have multiple hubs (a patchworked network) when one larger one would do. You might also have mice and keyboard cords on the desk, or peripherals and their cords everywhere.

    There are lots of ways to overcome a gunked up work area. Going with a flat screen monitor will free up a lot of space if you can afford it, and wireless hardware is always a plus. Wireless mice and keyboards are inexpensive, and wireless printers are coming around in price too.

    Of course, purchasing a small storage bin for all of your electronic equipment like digital cameras, PDAs, Pocket PCs, iPods, and smart displays is also a smart idea. There’s no reason for these things to be under or on your desk if you rarely use them. Storage bins also make a good place to keep extra cables, power supplies, and cords used to connect devices.

    Managing Cords and Cables

    Managing your cords and cables isn’t just cosmetic; it’s a necessary and required part of getting organized. Overloaded power strips can cause a fire, while overloaded computers can perform sluggishly. Being unable to vacuum or clean under the desk and around the cables can cause dust and dirt to build up in the computer case, as well in the keyboard and mouse. And last but not least, if you want to plug in a device but don’t know which cord goes to it, you’re just not going to be able to use it.

    Getting a handle on the countless number of cables under your desk is a multi-step process. First, you’ll need to choose the right power strips, ones that will actually protect you if lighting strikes or there’s a power surge. Chances are good that the one you purchased for $9.99 isn’t going to do the trick. You also need to take inventory of just how many power strips you have in a single room. There is such a thing as overload!

    Next, you’ll need to label all of the cables and cords you have, even the ones that are stored. There’s nothing worse than looking for the power charger when the battery goes dead on the PDA, or when you need to charge up your DV camera.

    Finally, you’ll need to learn the right ways to handle and hide network cables and run wires around or under doors. You’ll also want to optimize how you use cable ties and split conduit for managing what you have. It’s all part of the degunking process, and one you must do before you begin other degunking tasks.

    Managing Peripherals (and Computer Components)

    Managing and degunking peripherals (and computer components) are two different things. Managing peripherals can mean labeling cords and hiding or storing unused items, while degunking components can mean setting the correct resolution for your monitor or using the software with your wireless keyboard to create shortcuts to documents or Internet Web sites. Managing and degunking peripherals and components can also include getting rid of unnecessary software; many people have four or five CD burning software programs, or four or five printer applications. You’ll have to take inventory to see just what you need to manage.

    Additionally, managing and degunking here can mean optimizing USB ports, hubs and routers, or perhaps even switches. To get the most out of your USB devices, you have to understand how connecting them to USB hubs affects performance. To get the most out of hubs, routers, and switches, you have to understand the difference between them all first. These are more advanced degunking tasks, and are thus take more time.

    Whatever you do, you can be sure of one thing. Getting organized will go a long way to enhancing productivity!