The home office environment has become a growing reality for Canadian parents, which means that work documents, household paperwork and kids certificates and forms tend to be mixed into the same space.
1. Snap a picture
Taking a fresh look at your office with new eyes could be a catalyst for positive change. So take a picture of your office and study it objectively:
• Does it reflect the image you want to project to clients, colleagues and employees?
• Does it stimulate your creativity, motivate you and provide a haven where you can settle in comfortably to do your best work?
• Do you have a place to work comfortably and efficiently on your projects, or are you cramped into a corner of your space?
• While you’re thinking about energy, is there a logical flow (think of an assembly line) of work through the office?
3. Keep up with school work
When faced with backpacks crammed with paperwork, announcements and art, create an easy system to deal with it:
• Separate the permission forms and things that you have to deal with into your To Do folder.
• Drop any school work and art you would like to keep as a memento into a bin labeled with the child’s name and grade. At the end of the school year it’s ready to be stored.
4. Manage the extracurricular milestones
Kids in several types of activities can mean certificates, badges and dates to keep track of:
• Put any registration forms etc. into your To Do folder and take a few minutes to enter the important dates into the family calendar at the beginning of the season.
• Save bulkier items like badges (by activity in a Ziploc bag) and level certificates clipped together in a box-bottom hanging file folder to avoid headaches in a few years when you need documentation to sign them up for the lifeguard or instructor course.
Read more: Home Organization: Ready for a revamp?>
5. Avoid the documentation scramble
Keep copies of ID plus government issued documents handy:
• Passports, SIN cards, photocopies of driver’s licences, health cards and student ID for the entire family can be stored in a single go-to “Important ID” file.
• You might want to store several photocopies of some documents in this file to save a delay when filling out camp applications, etc. that require a copy of a health card, for instance.
6. Organize it your way
You know your style better than anyone—don’t get pushed into an alphabetical supply cupboard if you function best with visual cues. Choose the products, efficiency tips and time management tools that appeal to you:
• Implement a few ideas that make sense to you and the way you like to work, you’ll be much more likely to use them if you’re not forcing yourself to use an uncomfortable process.
• If you like things visible, use products to make them accessible while keeping them neat, such as vertical sorter for files you want handy.
7. Embrace your brand
Whether you have an office at home or you work in a small boutique office, it’s important to brand your space while you get organized—you never know what clients might be stopping by!
• Buy binders, bins or baskets in your company colours.
• Display your media coverage, testimonials and products attractively.
8. To shred or not to shred?
It’s important to understand your document retention obligations and avoid a build-up of obsolete documents because everyone is afraid to throw anything out.
• Start by asking your lawyer and accountant for a list of the documents you are legally obligated to keep.
• Have a clear retention policy so you can edit with confidence.
Read more: Are moms really more organized than others?>
Peg Bradshaw is a Trained Professional Organizer and Silver Leaf member of Professional Organizers in Canada, where she holds the Director of Finance portfolio on the National Board. Peg is passionate about the life-enhancing benefits personalized organization affords to all types of offices.