When winter gives way to spring, many people feel the need to partake in the ritual known as “spring cleaning.” A flurry of activity begins, both inside and outside the home, as homeowners spruce up landscaping, declutter garages, wash windows, and clean rugs. If you own a home business, don’t overlook this opportunity to freshen up your office and re-organize.
What are the benefits of spring cleaning your home-based office?
1. Increased productivity
Spending a minute or two trying to find your stapler may not seem like a big deal, but these occurrences can add up over time. The bigger loss, though, according to researchers, is the mental time wasted.
Each interruption can affect your mental processes and train of thought, causing three times as many errors when you return to your task. These interruptions don’t have to be long—even a pause of four seconds can have a detrimental effect on your work productivity.
By organizing your desk and workspace, you reduce the number of interruptions caused by having to search for that needed file or supply. This will gain you extra minutes that you can use to increase your output and your accuracy.
2. Better health
Businesses lose over 111 million workdays each year due to employees coming down with the flu. While most work-at-home employees may not be concerned about catching the virus from coworkers, they can still catch it from family members and other visitors. Keeping work areas clean from dust, dirt, and germs can help prevent colds, viruses, asthma, and other illnesses from wreaking havoc in your home office.
3. More accurate inventory control
A home office typically has limited storage for office supplies and extra equipment. In most cases, the budget for supplies is small and can be stretched to capacity with unnecessary spending. Therefore, it’s a good idea to keep supplies in a centrally located, organized area. This will prevent you from buying unnecessary items simply because you cannot find what you need.
4. More efficient filing
Receipts, work orders, tax documentation, and other paperwork can pile up quickly, leading to an organizational nightmare. In addition to preventing frustration, being able to find important documents quickly will help you avert lost sales and missed business opportunities. Avoid these problems by setting up a filing system and then using it. Want to eliminate paperwork? Invest in a scanner and create digital copies of important papers.
Ready to tackle spring cleaning in your office?
1. Set a timer.
Give yourself 30 minutes to clean up your workspace. Stay focused—even when you come across things that are “unfinished” during your cleaning. Put them in your “To Do” file and keep organizing.
2. Make a pile.
Gather all your paperwork and other unfiled items in one location. Sort through the pile, discarding junk mail and trash, and quickly put other items away where they belong. Collect office supplies into one group, things that belong elsewhere in another, and any miscellaneous items into their own stack.
3. Start filing.
File paperwork quickly. Don’t worry if your file drawers begin to fill up. You can always plan another cleaning day to weed through your paperwork to make more room. For today, simply file the papers you have out.
4. Put things away.
Put office supplies in a closet or storage drawer, return non-work items to other rooms, and take any dishes back to the kitchen. Be sure to check in your drawers and under your desk for any hidden items.
5. Clean everything.
Wipe down surfaces, clean chairs, empty trash cans, and sweep the floor.
By doing a few daily cleaning tasks, it’s easier to keep your office clean. It also prevents the need for a cleaning overhaul when things get out of control. Try to spend the last 10 minutes of every day putting the office back in order so you can start the next day off on the right foot. Maintaining a clean, organized office is as simple as 1-2-3.
- Set up a system for organization. Label file folders and set up bookshelves and filing cabinets to simplify keeping track of paperwork. At the end of every day, file completed paperwork, clean out your “in box” and move any work that needs attention to your “in progress” file.
- Be ruthless. Abide by the principle of handling papers as little as possible. Keep a trash can or scanner within arm’s reach and throw out any unnecessary papers. Shred any paperwork containing confidential information.
- Keep your workspace clear. Remember that your desk is a place to work, not a storage surface. A cluttered desk can be distracting and inhibit productivity.
This spring, focus your spring-cleaning urge on your in-home office. Like a breath of fresh air, a clean office will give you a renewed sense of purpose and increase your productivity and efficiency. For those just starting out in a home-based business, establishing a clear method of organization will help you get your business off to the right start.