Archive for Home office organization

How to Overcome the Content Creation Challenge

Creating ongoing content for your blog seems to be a challenge for most online business owners at some time or another.  The easiest way to overcome this challenge is to have a plan.  I have gone through several courses myself to help me get over the content creation challenge myself.  Truly, it was simple, but profound solutions that seemed to help the best.

One common theme was to create a content grid of topics – 50 to 100 topics on your grid just to get started.  I really struggled with this.  It made me feel like I didn’t know my subject matter.  (but I really do) The bottom line was initially the grid didn’t seem to help me.  

I would look over my list of topics, that felt forced and repetitive, and I wouldn’t write a thing.  Or I would write a few sentences and quit.  Yet, many people found these grids helpful, so tried again, and again.   Read More →

Identifying Your Organizing Style

Getting organized is important.  

The first thing you need to do is figure out your general organizational style. Even as a disorganized person you have a general organizational style. Trust me. Knowing your own personal organizational style will help you avoid choosing methods that won’t work for you.

  • Neat Nelly — She puts everything away out of sight, however the term neat can be questioned. She feels neat because it’s all out of sight and out of mind.
  • Piles Polly — She puts everything out where everyone can see it, usually in piles all over the place. She cannot find anything when she needs it.
  • Basket Betty — She puts everything into baskets so that they look neat and out of sight, but they are anything but neat (and maybe not even out of sight).

Understanding your organizational style will help you move forward with creating a system of organization that works for you.

Working with your personality, instead of against it, will make becoming more organized a lot simpler. So, it doesn’t matter whether or not you pile everything up, stuff everything out of sight, or have lots of baskets and bins with all your work in them. You can work with your natural inclinations to create a plan and develop a system that works for you.

If you’re still not sure about your organizational style, think for a moment about what you do when you receive a monthly bill. Do you throw it on a “bill pile”, file it away, or throw it in a basket (or drawer)? Some people just prefer to be able to see everything because they’re afraid they’ll forget something. Other people feel more accomplished if it’s all out of sight (and out of mind), while others do a mixture of the two.

Which one are you?

My personal inclination is to be a Piles Polly.  I like everything where I can see it, so I don’t forget about it.  My husband on the other hand is a Neat Nelly, if it is out of sight it is cleaned up.  So we tend to compromise along the lines of Basket Betty, we have several “junk” drawers, but at least I get to keep the mail in a tabletop basket so I remember to pay the bills.

Now as you move forward with your office organizing plans you can know what works best for you.  Don’t get a desk with lots of drawers and very little desktop if you tend to be a Piles Polly or even a Basket Betty, you want a system that allows you to have items where they can be seen and easily accessed.  On the other hand if you are Neat Nelly, make sure to get a desk or workspace with plenty of drawers or storage, so that you can keep your items out of sight when you are not working with them.

Please let me know what style you most identify with in the comments below.

Draw a Diagram of Your Ideal Home Office

Now if you are artistically challenged like I am the idea of drawing anything strikes fear in your heart, don’t fear, this is very easy.

I want you to dream big here, this should be the home office that allows you to be the most productive version of yourself.  Put down on paper all the elements you want included in your ideal home office.  Don’t limit yourself by money or even by your actual physical space, that will come later.  The reason I want you to put down all everything you want now is so that you don’t start editing yourself before you even get started.  

For example, if you said I have $100 to spend to get my office organized, how should I spend that money to improve my home office.  Now you have a limit to how much you can spend, so your brain is going to think about solutions that are under $100, but if you just let your mind wander without the limits, you will be surprised what you may come up with.  

I will be honest, when we moved last year, my new office space was smaller than in our previous home, so I had to make some compromises and have already had a major rearrangement of furniture, but I made the space work for me.  But I knew in my heart that I really needed a better space to process the books that I sell on Amazon.  Recently, we made some changes in the our home and I now have a space near my office to process my books.  The point is that I figured out how to make due with what I had, but I also knew that I wanted something different, and when the opportunity presented itself, I was ready.  

Having created that ideal plan on paper will give you the ability to see what you need to take care of right away and what can wait.  

So now about that actual diagram.  As I mentioned, I’m not an artist.  When I have a picture in my head and attempt to translate that to paper, I don’t even recognize what it is supposed to be, so I keep my diagrams very simple.  I draw squares and label what the item is supposed to be, and put the square where I want the item.  My squares are not even to proper scale, I have some small items that have squares larger than my actual desk square.  This is not art class and you aren’t being judged on the artistic merit of your drawing.  Another great option here is to use sticky notes.  Write everything down on stickies and then you can easily move them around your “room” as you plan out your space.

Okay, so now you have a good exercise for your mind and you don’t have to become an artist to have a productively laid out home office.  Share your results and/or struggles in the comments below.

Identify Your Home Office Problem Areas

Sounds simple right?  But the truth is we get used to what we get used to.  

I will share an example from my own life.  My last office chair was often used for another seat at the table during family game night.  It ended up being broken, but still usable.  It was like balancing on a top – using the seat of the chair – so I told myself it was like sitting on a Pilates ball, it will work my core.  Haha.  Let just say it was not easy to get comfortable in that chair, so I intended to replace it right away.  I was actually at a Staples store and they didn’t have the chair I wanted, so I just kept using the chair – for almost 9 months.  I had gotten used to the process of finding the “best” spot to balance the seat for maximum comfort, it no longer seemed as uncomfortable, it was just part of my day.  So how many broken chairs are you sitting on?

Take a good, honest look at what you don’t like in your home office and why.  Now, in the example of my broken chair, it was obvious why I didn’t like it – I prefer comfort, but not everything is so crystal clear.  My problem can often be to get started.  Once I get going, I’m good, but if I let myself, I can be an excellent procrastinator.  Instead of writing my blog post, I can clean my bathroom, do a load of laundry, take the dog for a walk, rearrange furniture, you get the idea.  And I tell myself it’s okay because I’m getting stuff done.  

So the problems can be physical or mental struggles as well.  Sadly, our culture has helped to become great identifier of problems, but not very good at solutions.  I want you to be able to get rid of those problem areas for good, so dig a little deeper, don’t just write down the obvious, be  honest with yourself.  You are your own worst critic, so use that critical voice and let it run free, but for every problem there has to be a why or a solution.  Even if you can’t come up with a solution, if you identify the problem with a why, the answer will come, whether from within yourself or from an outside source, and you will know it when you see it. Because you had identified the problem and why it was a problem, the solution will be easier to identify.  

So this is all still part of the planning process, don’t get discouraged, you’re changing your mind just by doing this exercise, and this will have longer term benefits than if you had just bought a new filing system.  Don’t get me wrong, you may need a new filing system, but until you can see the big picture, you can’t create a lasting result.  Try to have fun with all your problems, they can be silly problems too – like I don’t like that my office window allows me to see my dog do his business, but I do love my large window that looks out into my backyard.  This a a problem I have no immediate solution for, but I have identified the problem, so eventually a solution will come.

Oh and by the way, I did get me an awesome new office chair that is so comfortable – I’d love to know if there are any problem areas I can help you with – just leave a comment below.

What Organized Really Means To Me

Too many people I talk to have this idea that to be organized you have to have everything put away in a pristine white space with labels on everything.  This is crap.

This is someone else’s vision.  You need to figure out what organized really looks like for you.  If you love color, this is a good place to start.  If you hate labels, don’t use them.

Use color if you like color.

I believe, and I teach, that being organized is being able to find what you are looking for, when you are looking for it.  If you can’t find the tools you use to run your business, then you won’t keep your customers happy for very long.  And your business is going to feel like such a drag, if you always feel behind.

Now don’t get me wrong some people thrive on stress, or at least believe they do.  If you do then you should organize your business to create productive stress, rather than let stress build up on you unexpectedly.

Personally, I like to have things labeled and so I have a label maker and use it all the time.  I like to have my business books close at hand, so I have a bookcase in my office for specifically for those selected titles.   I keep a spiral notebook next to my computer so that I can jot down ideas or any kind of notes easily.

What I really want for you is to make sure that you aren’t trying to reach someone else’s idea of being organized.  I worked with a woman several years ago that always had piles of paper all over her desk, but she could put her hands on almost anything you asked without hesitation.  Now when people looked at her desk they assumed she wasn’t organized, but I say she was – it just didn’t look “normal.”

So chaos can be okay if you can really find what you are looking for.  Just make sure you aren’t allowing a mess that isn’t productive for you.

There used to be a TV show on HGTV called “Mission: Organization” that had people come in and get people whose houses had become cluttered and get them organized.  Now they weren’t focusing on the home office, but they did sometimes do the office area.  I loved to see the before and after, but I really liked the 3 month follow up to see if they had kept up the clutter free lifestyle.  The people that did the best were the ones that continued to tweak the changes to suit their family, and they had lasting results.

So my best advice is to find what works for you and keep tweaking the areas that aren’t working for you.

I would love for you to share your experience in the comments below.