A Checklist for an Efficient Home Office Work Area
By Joe Farcht

Have you ever felt that your work area
was cluttered with so many unorganized
papers, items, and gadgets that you just
didn’t know what to do next?  Have you ever felt completely overwhelmed and out of

Here is a simple check list to use in creating a work environment that is effective,
efficient and distraction free!  Check off each item as you complete the instruction and
see what a difference organization can make in your home office.

 Locate your desk facing in a direction where when sitting at the ready work position
you are not distracted by people passing outside your home office door or window to
the outside.

 Remove distracting objects from your field of view when sitting at your desk in the
ready work position.  Place personal items, pictures, and executive toys behind you
out of sight when working.  Remove and store out of sight excess pen or pencil
holders, tape dispensers, staplers, or other tools that are not used daily.

 Place your telephone(s) on weak side of desk (if right handed, then on your left

 Place your Rolodex, phone directory, or BlackBerry next to the telephone.

 Remove desk calendar blotters, note pads, and post-it note pads.

 Use one calendar commitment system such as a day planner, MS Outlook &
Blackberry, or a hybrid paper electronic system.  Keep your day planner open and
ready to use on the desk strong side (right side if you are right handed).  Write all
notes, commitments, voice mails, and other items of interest in your day planner or
MS Outlook task organization system.

 Write down and group communications for individuals.  Share those
communication lists at one or two planned times during the day.

 Establish an In-Basket outside the door to your office.  Process mail and other
paperwork once or twice each day at planned times.

 Create a Must-Do-Now-Basket, Important-To-Do-Basket, and Pending-Basket.  Place
those baskets out of eyesight to avoid eye jumping.  Prioritize all the items in each
basket placing the highest priority item on top.  Create and place your Finished-Work-
Basket where it may be seen.

 Establish a Tickler-File in your desk drawer and for e-mail organization in MS
Outlook.  A Tickler-File consists of folders labeled 1 to 31 and January through
December.  Paperwork or email tasks are entered into the proper day or month the
work is to be started and perhaps completed.  

 Establish Talk-To-Files for each associate or subordinates to store notes and
communications that will be shared a one or two planned times.  Establish Read-File
for magazine articles or other materials you would like to read.  Establish Reference
and Historical files out of sight in filing cabinets.

 Computer files should be organized in file folders just like your paper or e-mail
filing system for simplicity and ease of retrieval.

 At scheduled times during the day, process e-mails that arrive in your inbox.  If the
e-mail can be done in two minutes or less, take action and complete it.  Others may be
dragged to the appropriate computer folder such a Tickler-File-Folders, Must-Do-
Now-Folder, Important-To-Do-Folder, or Pending-Folder.  Alternately, e-mails may be
printed out and taped into the day planner on the day that the task will be started (a
form of the Tickler-File).  When finished processing e-mails, your inbox should be
totally empty.

 Use color-coded folders for easy visual identification of files (red - projects, blue -
people, green - read, etc.).  File alphabetically with titles you are familiar with.  Use
the folder tab labels spaced for easy reading.

 Clean out and remove all unnecessary, closed, or unused files every six months.

 Scan magazines or other reading materials table of contents, locate interesting
articles, rip it out of the magazine, staple, and place in the "must read" areas (Must-Do-
Now-Basket, Important-To-Do-Basket, Tickler-File) or "want to read" Read-File.  After
reading articles or materials, file in Reference-File organized alphabetically by subject
for easy retrieval.

 Plan any meetings by identifying a purpose and prepare a detailed minute by
minute agenda to be effective and efficient.

Completing the items in this check list will help you exercise more control over your
work, get more done, reduce the clutter and distractions, and reduce the desk stress in
your home business.  Just a reminder that after you do get organize, don’t allow
yourself to fall into the habits you might have exercised in the past.  If you aren’t
really the organized type of person but someone who is more creative and flexible,
then hire someone who is naturally organized.  Allow them to organize and run the
office while you use one drawer that you can keep “messed up.”  An organized and
efficient home office work area will serve you well.  Try it, you’ll like it!

About the author: Joe Farcht is the founder and president of
Leadership Advantage,
Inc.  He is an author, speaker, and develops leadership skills with individuals and
groups.  His book, Building Personal Leadership: Inspirational Tools & Techniques
for Work & Life contain hundreds of other ideas to help you in your work and life.  He
has developed a complete organization system for MS Outlook.  You may learn more
about him and his services at
Leadership Advantage, Inc.  You can contact Joe at
joefarcht@cox.net or at 602-996-1802.
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