March 8th is “Organize Your Home Office Day.” Who knew it had its own day? Well, I knew, because it’s my jam! And the truth is, if a productivity specialist comes across a day designation on the National Day Calendar with “organize” and “office” in the title, she’s gonna make special note of it. March 8th is also, in fact, International Women’s Day, which is a day set aside to “celebrate the social, economic, and political achievements of women around the world.” It occurred to me that having both of these categories on the same day made 100% sense, whether their slotting was intentional or not. No doubt, everyone needs a clean and organized place to work, but the home office holds special significance for the modern woman.
Snapshot of the Modern Women
Let me start by saying, I’m all for discarding outdated gender roles. I am about finding unique systems that work for the individual, independent of gender or family status. Know that what I’m covering below is applicable to both men and women. Gender designation isn’t really necessary, but it is International Women’s Day. And the fact is, if you take a peek behind the proverbial curtain, you’re likely to find a woman back there ensuring the show runs as planned. And this show is a grand production, a beautiful one with far-reaching impacts. Though in reality, there’s usually no grand stage. And said woman is actually making it all happen from her home office.
For illustration purposes, let’s consider the modern mother. Naturally there will be exceptions and differences in degree, but the modern mother is often the one that:
- schedules the doctor’s appointments
- maintains the family calendar
- processes and pays the bills
- organizes the birthday parties and the family’s social engagements
- maintains the holiday gifting lists and corresponding notes of acknowledgement
- processes the schoolwork/homework/field trip paperwork
- plans meals and develops shopping lists
- facilitates the family’s involvement in neighborhood and charity events
And this is all independent of work she might engage in professionally outside her home. I’ve written in the past about the specific nuances the working mother faces. And you can find suggestions for her time management here. But know that the mother designation isn’t needed to make my point. Kids or no kids, career or no active career, women take on important and impactful home and social responsibilities. So now, let’s talk about where this work gets done.
Elements of an Optimized Home Office
Having a clean and organized space to work in is a prerequisite for increasing personal productivity. So, first and foremost, everyone needs an established space to conduct work optimally. This doesn’t have to be a formal office. A properly planned dual-use space can accommodate productive endeavors. For example, a hideaway rolling cart, stocked with a laptop and needed supplies can satisfy the needs of a home office. It can be stored in the pantry and brought out for use adjacent to the dining room table. And certainly an organized desk tucked away in the corner of any room of the home can meet the criteria when set up right.
Set Yourself Up for Success
Regardless of location or type, to optimize your home office workspace:
- Commit to keeping it clean and tidy. Clutter causes anxiety and diminishes productivity. Take a few minutes at the end of your work day to put away what you’ve taken out. Clean up any spills, wash used beverage cups and mugs and prepare the space for the following day.
- Ensure you have the supplies you need readily available, i..e. pens, paper, paper clips, chargers, etc. You don’t want to spend your productive time searching for something you need to work.
- Set up a smart system for your workspace. Everything should have a designated spot in the office where it belongs when not in use. This system will be unique to the way you work, but might include cubbies for pens, a filing cabinet for important paperwork, bins for processing incoming paperwork, etc.
- If you process items for several people in the home, make certain each individual, or each category, has a designated inbox.
- Establish a “to be read” file or bin, and a system for maintaining it. Necessary and efficient, the TBR file can quickly grow into clutter if not managed properly.
- Consider going paperless where you can, by creating a digital storage filing system and capitalizing on smart digital tools and platforms.
- Set up your workspace with items and images that bring you joy and foster inspiration. Maybe, for you, this includes pictures of those you love or framed quotes of special significance. Maybe it’s a special paint color for the walls or a favorite lamp or vase. The idea here is to make the space your own.
A Space to Make the Magic Happen
When you consider all that the home office enables an individual to do, it’s easy to see why “Organize Your Home Office” makes the cut for the National Day Calendar. It underscores the importance of developing and maintaining a space in the home that enables efficient productivity. Setting aside time to organize and clean your work space is a worthy use of your time. It’s an effort that delivers dividends throughout the calendar year.
Finally, in closing, if you’re a woman reading this, know that you are seen and so appreciated for all that you do. You not only need, but you deserve, an optimized workspace to create all that magic. Happy International Women’s Day!
Sara Genrich is a Productivity Consultant, an Evernote Certified Consultant and the creator of the Organizing@Work for Success Workshop. She’s committed to providing real-life solutions so her clients have time to focus on the things that really matter.