By Nicole Dean
So you've started a home business. You went out and purchased a nice desk and comfortable chair, and maybe even a new computer with all of the necessary extras. Now you're ready to earn an income from home! How nice it will be to be your own boss, to work when you feel like it and to answer to no one. At least that's what you think.
If your business involves the internet you're probably going to spend a lot of time at your desk. You think your desk at work was a mess? You have no idea. This past year was one of the most stressful times I've ever experienced; mostly due to the chaos that was my Home Office, conveniently located in my dining room. Here is the type of scenario that played itself out in my home on a daily basis:
'Get up, fix coffee, take cup to desk, move slinky off desk, let the dog out, open email, start making list of tasks to complete, answer the phone, take a message for husband, leave note on desk, let the dog back in, separate screaming siblings, remember to pay phone bill, locate phone bill among the dozen or so envelopes piled up on desk, write check, leave the prepared bill among the remnants of the other bills, three-year-old runs up to give Mommy a hug and spills coffee all over desk, throw out the phone bill with the pile of trash (forgetting it's there in the first place) along with son's school enrollment paperwork that's been lying on desk under home business catalogs and order forms and phone message taken earlier for husband.'
The result of my morning's effort? Enrollment is late, phone bill isn't paid on time, and husband wonders if I'll ever regain sanity. Rewind, repeat tomorrow, next week, next month etc.
Sound familiar? If you're new to home business, then maybe you haven't yet experienced the perils of the Home Office. I think the phrase is an oxymoron for most people. There's very little divide between the stuff for home and the stuff for your business. Even if you're lucky enough to have a separate room for your office, I bet your family (and you too) are guilty of leaving items or taking stuff to and from your desk. I don't know how many times I have looked for the three ring hole punch, only to find it on my daughter's art table along with the kitchen tongs and bathroom plunger.
So you're asking yourself, 'How do I keep my desk organized and my desk contents out of the hands of my family?' Good question. There are dozens of articles and books written to help 'get organized', but if you and your family are not respectful of the Home Office Space, then no number of organizing binders and boxes and tabs and expanding folders will help. I tried. Really I did. I kept finding my lovely wicker In/Out Box in my daughter's room, you guessed it, by the art table with the other items she 'borrowed.'
What finally helped my stressful Home Office situation was to schedule a time every week to throw away old bills, to not even bring the junk mail into the house in the first place, and to use a simple file folder system located in my desk drawer to keep my home business paperwork, and family papers. As far as the littlest sneak thief - I gave my daughter her own desk drawer full of interesting things to look at. Simple plan. Now if I could just find that ringing telephone.!
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