Let It Go…Six Ways For Keeping What’s in Your Office From Owning You

Organized OfficeWho’s in charge…you or the equipment and supplies in your home office? Take a few minutes to figure out how much time, money and emotion you waste on equipment, reference materials and information you no longer use. When you’re finished doing this quick analysis, it should be easier for you to throw out, recycle or better yet, donate anything you don’t need.

  1. Remove all dinosaurs. Are you using out-of-date equipment or old versions of computer programs? Determine how much time you’re wasting using slow and inadequate equipment, and programs with limited capabilities. Computer prices drop daily, so determine if your time is worth investing in a new desktop or laptop. The money you’re saving by not buying new equipment may be costing you in lost time and productivity.
  2. Control incoming information. It’s difficult (and time-consuming) to read everything, yet it’s easy to get caught up in information overload-the need to keep every publication you receive. You may keep this information because you think that one day you’ll read it. But does that day ever come? If you know that you’ll never read something, get rid of it. If you ever need an article from a past issue, search for it online.
  3. Develop the urge to purge. Some people keep information “just in case” they need it one day. They fear that the minute they throw or give something away, they may need it again. The first symptom of the need to purge is stacks of magazines, newspapers and paperwork scattered throughout your office. Keep in mind that when you need something, you may not be able to find it amidst the clutter you’ve accumulated. Something is worth keeping only if you’re able to find it within minutes instead of hours.
  4. Combine technology. An All-in-One machine (printer/scanner/copier/fax) can help you save space in your home office. Instead of using four different machines, you can put one machine to work.
  5. Know What to Toss and What to Keep. Take the “Toss or Keep” test to determine whether or not you should keep something.
    1. Have you used this item within the past year?
    2. Is the item serving a specific purpose?
    3. Do you have a place to store the item where you will find it again?
    • If you answered no to any of these questions, consider giving the item away. If you decide to keep the item, make sure you have a specific place to store it.
  6. Say “no” to hand-me-downs. Well-meaning friends and family may want to give you an old desk, chair or bookcase while clearing out their own office, think twice before you say yes. Before you add one more piece of furniture to your home office, make sure you need it and you have a place to store it. Something for nothing is a bad deal if you don’t need it.

Without technology, files and resource materials, you would have a difficult time handling daily tasks. When all of these tools, however, threaten to hamper your productivity, it’s time to take back your office. You’re responsible for managing your home office, so why manage the contents within it too?

About Lisa Kanarek

Lisa Kanarek is one of the nation’s leading home office experts and the author of five books, including Working Naked: A guide to the bare essentials of home office life. She has been featured—as an author and in interviews—in hundreds of publications including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Newsweek and Entrepreneur, and has shared her expertise on several national programs, including Good Morning America, CNN Financial News, and CNBC, among others. Lisa is also the founder of HomeOfficeLife, a consulting firm that advises home-based business owners on all aspects of working from home and is founder of http://www.WorkingNaked.com.

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