Guest post written by Denise Childs, Systems for Order
We all want the elusive Work/Life balance and often we largely focus on keeping Work out of Life. But what about keeping Life out of Work? When working from home try and keep all personal work separated from your business work. It is very easy to become distracted with personal matters which need attention and before you know it you have lost your focus and lost time. Establish a dedicated area just for dealing with business matters and ideally a separate area for personal. If space is an issue confine personal documents to separate portable files which only invade your business space at dedicated times when you are ready to address their contents.
Get rid of the In Tray. It can be an unattractive and stress-causing Black Hole of random and neglected correspondence, notes and ‘stuff’. Instead develop a system to deal with each piece of paper that crosses your desk by creating individual files for these items and labelling them clearly. As soon as a document enters your office immediately place it in the relevant file to be dealt with in due course. This saves you time as you can instantly your hands on the wanted document instead of endlessly shuffling through the pile.
How is your business ‘space management’? Can you find immediately any item when you need it? Remember to establish a home for all items, and keep all like items together, e.g. computer cables, batteries and stationery. This not only helps you find things quickly and easily, saving time and frustration, it helps with stock control as you immediately know when quantities are getting low. Label the areas to keep items together and assist others in finding those items without interrupting you! Maintain the tidiness of these areas regularly to maximise storage space.
How is your time management? When you sit down to deal with a task at hand, set yourself a time limit. The pressure involved with a dedicated timeframe may help you concentrate and minimise distractions. Use a timer if that helps. Dividing your day into such blocks highlights your results and keeps you focused. To go one step further, plan your actions for the next day the night before and block out in advance those time periods in which you are absolutely-positively going to complete those tasks. To maintain focus, block out short periods of time through the day to check emails and Facebook and then ‘work offline’ for the rest of the day to eliminate distractions.
Do you like to have all your work directly in front of you? Do you think you are a visual person? If you do, instead of piles of paperwork lying horizontally taking up valuable desk space, work vertically using labelled binders or a desktop suspender filing system. Then use a magnetic or pin board to keep all your frequently accessed reference information clearly visible in front of you. This not only saves space but increases your productivity and saves time.
Denise Childs, Systems for Order
After many years in large corporate environments as an Executive Personal Assistant, I established and managed a successful home-based consulting office while raising three children. I am now able to draw on my combined 25 years’ experience in office and home management in my Professional Organising business to help busy families gain control of their lives and their homes.
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