Are you spending more time in your home office these days? Has it been weeks since you’ve seen your desktop? Are stacks of file folders piled up on the floor and papers falling off your desk? With tax season upon us, this is as good a time as any to organize your office.
But maybe you’re feeling productive, and you’re wondering why you should bother because you can be even more productive. Workplace studies show that those with well organized offices spend 30 percent less time looking for what they need. In fact, we waste about an average of six weeks every year just looking for things. Wouldn’t you rather be using that time to do something other than pulling your hair out?
Here are some ideas you can implement now to get your office organized:
- Color code your files. For example, put financial papers in green folders, house-related papers in orange folders, medical papers in blue folders, insurance papers in red folders, car-related papers in white folders, and so on. And while you’re at it, use a label maker so you can clearly see what’s in each folder.
- Take advantage of wall space. Mount shelves, white boards, cork boards and calendars. If you have the space, consider using bins and cubbies.
- Store things in containers and drawer dividers. One for pens, one for sticky notes, one for paper clips, and so on.
- Put printing supplies in one place, preferably near your printer. That includes paper, ink cartridges, staples and paper clips.
- Take inventory of your documents and put them in one of three piles: shred, toss or file. Not sure whether to shred or toss? If the paperwork has any identifiable information, shred it. Still not sure? Don’t take any chances, shred it.
- Upgrade the lighting in your office or look for ways to enhance it. Again, studies show that workers are more productive in well lit workstations.
- Consider investing in a small safe that can be hidden in a cabinet if you have important papers that should be under lock and key. This makes sense for those who find themselves making frequent trips to bank safe deposit boxes.
For those of you looking for specific tax-related organization tips, consider color coding folders. Assign a color to each folder, and here are some folders you should create:
- Tax receipts
- Tax forms, such as 1040, W-2, 1099-MISC and 1098.
- Business expenses
- Charitable contributions
- Credit card bills
- Bank statements
- Investment statements
- Property taxes
- Insurance policies and bills
- Estate plan documents