When you run a business out of your home or frequently work from your home office, personal and professional paperwork tends to merge. This can make for a confusing, chaotic workspace and living space. Home office organization often needs to start with tackling paperwork. In a recent More Good Day Oregon segment, Vicki Norris helped a couple transition their physical therapy practice from a brick-and-mortar business to a mobile clinic. Through the process, she shared invaluable organization tips anyone could apply to their own home office organization project.
- Gather the tools you’ll need. Before you dive in, set yourself up for success by collecting the necessary “tools of the trade” for your project. Vicki recommends having these everyday office supplies on-hand:
- Hanging folders – Make sure you have enough! Depending on the amount of paperwork you have, your system might require more than one box.
- Third-cut file folders – You’ll have plenty of room to write easy-to-read labels. Again, make sure you have enough of these!
- Post-it notes – These allow you to make temporary notes and labels.
- Sharpies – Writing labels with clear handwriting that’s big enough to easily read and find will make your new filing system far more usable.
- Bankers Boxes – You can use any box, but this size specifically fits 8 ½” x 11” paper. Use these boxes as temporary holding bins for each category of paper, fitting the hanging folders and file folders inside to be transferred to your filing cabinet once you’re done.
- Macro-sort your paperwork. This involves deciding what major categories you need to have in your filing system. For example, Vicki separated the business owners’ paperwork into Business Financials, Personal Filing, and Business filing.
- Micro-sort paperwork. During this stage, you’ll decide where the most strategic place is for each type of paper and break each of the macro categories down into micro categories. For example, Personal Filing might have categories of Financial, Home, and Medical. Within those you will further break down the organization. A few more tips on the micro-sorting process are:
- Use this stage to whittle down what you keep. Ask hard questions and only keep what you have to.
- Realize some paperwork might be better off being organized in a binder (especially documents you need frequently for quick reference) rather than being stored in a file folder.
- Establish priorities and needs. While it’s great having everything neatly stored away, reality is for many business owners, there are certain documents and files they need to reference on a frequent basis. Adapt to your needs, and create systems for keeping those frequently used files close at hand.
- Be committed to the process. As Vicki’s client realized, sorting and filing paperwork is a laborious, time-intensive process that takes longer than many people realize. You probably won’t finish it all in one day, and that’s OK! Put intentional time into the project as you can, and you’ll reach your goal.
Do you need home office organization? Watch the More Good Day Oregon segment for further inspiration and visual examples of how Vicki went through this process and established a system for her business-owner clients!
- Read Stephanie and Henry’s testimonial about working with Restoring Order
- Visit our Reclaim Your Work page
- Learn more about our Reclaim Your Work consulting services
- Read how Vicki’s workplace trainings could benefit your business
- Check out our DIY training videos to Reclaim Your Paper
- Find inspiration and ideas on our Reclaim Your Work Pinterest board