Easily organize your home office and increase productivity

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How to take control of your office with new and recycled organizational tools

There are several ways to improve the efficiency of a home office, but the best ways involve making it easier and faster to find what you need. The idea is to quickly, effectively, and inexpensively add components to make your life easier. Here are a few things I’ve done in my own home office to make things easier to find, to keep items organized in the long term, and to do it on the cheap:

  • Recycle an old dresser and use the drawers to store extra reams of paper, mailing supplies and other bulk office items. If the dresser fits in a closet, that’s even better.
  • Unsnarl cables and cords and tie them up using twist ties. If you incorporate wall mounted clips and can get the cables off of the floor, you can vacuum the office more easily too.
  • Purchase or make organizers for pens and pencils, scissors, white out, markers, highlighters, and erasers. You can even have your kids make them out of frozen juice containers, unwanted coffee cups, Tupperware, or Legos. Simple wicker silverware and napkin holders for picnics are great for this.
  • Employ stackable trays. Use one for bills and mail you need to respond to, one for printer paper, one for coupons or promotional offers you plan to use, one for magazines you need to read (rotate these before the tray gets full), and one for invoices, faxes, or whatever else you collect in your business that needs to be filed or is waiting on a response or payment.
  • Purchase a hanging canvas shoe caddy. Use a hanging shoe caddy over the door for a see-through holder for staplers, dry erase markers and eraser, office supplies, or even mail.
  • Get a Rolodex. Yes, an old-fashioned Rolodex can hold business cards and store phone numbers and addresses.
  • Install a keyboard tray. Use a keyboard tray to hold your computer keyboard. A tray keeps it off the desk and helps posture.
  • Get and use a label maker. Label your stackable trays, cables, cords, desk organizers, files, shoe caddies, baskets, and stackable bins.
  • Get a day planner. Having a day planner makes a great way to store and recall appointments, meetings, project due dates, and to map out whatever project you’re working on. You can also use the planner to store phone numbers and addresses, and to note birthdays, anniversaries, and things like yearly health exams. With a physical planner, you can store physical things too, like directions to your dentist’s office (just stow it in that week or day’s page), envelopes and bills for quarterly tax payments, and printouts or clippings for trade shows or upcoming events. When you turn the page for the day or week, everything is right in front on you, so you never forget a thing.
  • To keep multiple people organized, consider a whiteboard calendar, a calendar on a shared computer, or a shared day planner.
  • Hang corkboards and whiteboards to keep notes and make notes to yourself. A very inexpensive alternative to a large corkboard if space is an issue are round cork trivets or plant pot “coasters” available at any home improvement or hardware store. They can be attached to a wall with (removable) double-stick adhesive. The round memo dots are a hip way to organize memos and work great in home offices, over a desk in a kid’s room or dorms and apartments where nails can’t be used.