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Small Business
Organizing your home office
January 12, 1999: 2:51 p.m. ET

A well set-up office bolsters productivity, reduces stress
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NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Working from home can be full of benefits, but you won't be able to reap them if your workspace isn't well organized.
     When setting up your home office, consider your priorities. What is your main objective for setting up the workspace? To improve after-hours productivity in your corporate job? To run your own business? Do you telecommute in order to spend more time with the kids? Or do you simply want to run your household differently?
     Whatever your priorities, don't underestimate the difference organization can make.
     "Whether your workspace is its own separate room or a corner of the kitchen, a well set-up home office can help reduce stress, improve productivity and add more personal time everyday," Lisa Kanarek, author of "Organizing Your Home Office for Success," says.
     Kanarek offers these tips to help stay-at-home moms, entrepreneurs and telecommuters create a home office that helps them get more done with less stress.
Define your home office space. Even if your office is a corner of the family room, keep all office-related items in one place to create an efficient "command central" -- and prevent time-wasting trekking all over the house for things you need. Designate separate family supply storage areas, so family members won't "borrow" your office supplies.
     Desk for success. Buy a desk with ample writing space (even with a computer), a computer with plenty of memory, a high-quality printer (consider the new all-in-one printer, fax, copier and scanner), task lighting to reduce fatigue, an adjustable chair that swivels, a bookcase and a file cabinet.
     Keep essentials in one spot. Keep items you use most -- stamps, envelopes, stationery, file folders and note pads -- within arm's reach on your desk. If possible, place bookshelves and filing cabinets nearby. Create an "In" box for mail and "To File" box. Post a running supply list to refer to when replenishing your stock.
     Seize the day. Start each day (or you can do this the night before) with a major goal. Write and prioritize your to-do list, separating your personal tasks and business tasks. Keep the list in your notebook or planner and as you add to-do's throughout the day, continually evaluate your priorities, especially if your time is limited and you're working around your family's schedule.
     Follow the rule, "Do it or delete it." Before you automatically transfer a task from one daily list to another, determine why you haven't started it or if it even needs to be done. You may find that the task isn't important after all.
     At Your fingertips. To make in-the-car time productive, use a portable organizer with monthly calendar, to-do pages, note pad, phone directory and receipt storage. Keep it manageable by removing accumulated flyers, memos and receipts once a week. Transfer relevant items to the family bulletin board or appropriate file in your permanent file cabinet, creating new files if necessary.
     Balance Work and Family. Many home office workers have are seeking more time with family. To maximize quality time -- and reduce stress -- use a business approach in managing your family. Take a daily inventory of upcoming events and the items needed to prepare. For example, a party may require a card and gift, while a child's school project may require a stop at the craft store. Add to-do's to your list and events to your calendar.
     Communicate your schedule. Post a monthly calendar in a central location like the refrigerator. Schedule business and family commitments using different colored pens. Family members can refer to this when determining if you are available or not, especially if your work schedule requires irregular client meetings or is deadline driven.
     Plan to have fun. The benefit of working at home is more personal time. Create idea files for decorations, recipes, travel destinations and game ideas. When the time comes to plan an event, you will have the information you need. Back to top
    
(Source: Day Runner)

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