Tips for organising your home office

Tips for organising your home office

The Importance of Home Office Organization

When you are working from home it is just as important to keep your office space organised as if you were working elsewhere.  By being organised you will increase your productivity.  The trap we fall into when working from home is getting too relaxed and things start to slip.  Piles of paperwork start to appear that you will ‘deal with later’.

Too many personal items start to appear and make themselves at home on your desk such as birthday cards to send, household bills and shopping lists.  This then starts to blur the lines between working on your business and completing personal errands.

It takes great discipline to organise a home office but it is such an important part of your business that you should not let slip and neglect to take control of.


Getting Started

Start off with having a good declutter.  The same principle applies as in having a declutter of your home.  Get rid of anything that is:

  • Broken
  • No longer used
  • Dated and/or obsolete
  • Doesn’t work (pens fall neatly into this category!)
  • You wouldn’t miss if you never saw it again

Now make sure you have the correct furniture and/or accessories for keeping paperwork tidy and to avoid creating piles of clutter on your desk which needs to be kept clear for you to work.

Get a filing cabinet and split into sections for each area of your business.  This could be for finances, client files, marketing ideas etc.  Now take all that paperwork that has been building over time and put into its correct place.  Remember the saying ‘A place for everything and everything in its place’.

Any documents or paperwork that you have been meaning to read for 12 months or more is likely not to be that important, or relevant, any more so be ruthless and bin it.  Obviously be aware of data protection and legal requirements but for general paperwork, get rid of it and stop it clogging up your valuable office space.

Get a bookcase and neatly arrange files, folders and books.  Is there space to put your printer on top of the bookcase or filing cabinet to keep as much space free as possible on your desk?

Arrange your desktop so that you have everything you need regularly immediately to hand.  This could be items such as pen pot, stapler, hole punch, calculator and diary.  Having these items immediately to hand is much more convenient than having to scrabble around looking for them and wasting precious time.

Get yourself a desktop standing file for documents or files that you will be using regularly such as current projects.



Daily Organisation

During the day, use the one touch rule for any incoming paperwork.  Touch a piece of paper just once and deal with it there and then.  Don’t add it to a pile to deal with later.  Pay bills immediately and file away.  Answer that letter and file or shred with complete.  It will have to be dealt with at some point and will take the same amount of time so that time might as well be now.  This will help keep your mind clear by knowing you are on top of things and will keep your pile of clutter to a bare minimum.

At the end of each day, double check to make sure your office space is tidy.  File away any paperwork and check you have completed everything on your daily to-do list.  Write down the top three things you need to complete the next day.  This will help organise your mind and put you in a feeling of control allowing you to relax for the evening and recharge your batteries.


Follow these tips for organising your home office and see just how much more productive you become.

Is it time to call it a day in your business

Is it time to call it a day in your business

Starting your own home business can be exciting, exhilarating and full of hope.  But what happens if the enthusiasm starts to wane when the money does not come rolling in as expected?

All too often, women who start their own home business find them under stress from not knowing when the money is going to start coming in and finding they are having to scrabble around to find funds to pay the household bills.  On top of this comes the added pressure from spouses or partners who may start to ask when you are going to get a proper job and start to contribute to the household expenses.

The initial passion and enthusiasm has been lost and you spend many sleepless nights worrying about the future.

Sound familiar?  If this is happening to you, then I truly am sorry.  I wish I could tell you to hang on in there and not give up but at some point, you will ultimately have to find a way to earn some immediate cash if customers are just not coming forward as expected.

I see this all too often and the pressure starts to build causing excess strain both on your mind-set for the future running of your business and also on that of your personal relationships.

So is it time to call it a day, or is there an alternative?

Firstly, a bit of soul searching may be required.  Do you remember why you started your own business?  Do you still have the underlying passion for it and believe in it long-term, or has it become an all too heavy burden that you are seriously regretting having started?

If you think you can regain the passion and truly believe (and have done the research to prove it) that long term the business can be a success, maybe it is just time to have a rethink.  Is there any way of generating immediate income by offering a complementary product or service alongside your existing business?  Do you need to adapt your offering in some way?

Offer complementary services

Perhaps if you offer one to one services you could adapt these to group sessions whereby it becomes more affordable to your clients but you still earn an income.  A make-up artist or beautician could offer classes in how to apply makeup or look after their skin.  A photographer could offer group session on how to use a smartphone camera to best effect.  If you sell handmade soft furnishings, how about running a basic sewing class?

Find other ways to generate income

Do you have things that you could sell on Ebay or do you know of someone who is looking for a cleaner or ironing service?  Is there a local business that is looking for some ad hoc help whilst they have staff on holiday or off sick?  These are things that can easily be run alongside a home business and can create some much needed income in the short term.

Take part time work

Or if necessary, could you continue to run the business on a part-time basis whilst taking part-time employed work?

There is nothing wrong about taking on other work whilst you continue to build your business in the background.  It will take longer than you may have hoped but the extra income will help take the pressure off and may just give you renewed vigour to keep going.

One thing that I hear when I present this option to women I work with is that they will lose face and be seen to be failing at their business.  They worry so much as to what others will think of them.  But there is a saying:

“If you’re worried about what people will think, you’ll be surprised at how little they care”

It is far better to face up to reality that things are not working as you expected and take action than to try and save face and end up losing both your business and possibly your relationship.

If you feel you are between a rock and a hard place at the moment and are struggling to know if it is time to give or not, take 24 hours out.  Go talk to a friend you trust and throw some ideas around.  Think long and hard about whether you want to, and should, continue with your business, or whether there is a work around in the short term.

And if the decision is made to close your business, just remember, you haven’t failed.  You have just learnt a valuable lesson for the future in what not to do.

Do you need to be a graduate to succeed?

Do you need to be a graduate to succeed?

I have just read an article in The Guardian by Michelle Mone, the co-founder of Ultimo.

In this article she writes:

I can’t stand people who say you must be a graduate to succeed. I think it’s fantastic if you are a graduate because it gives you the ability to learn, but it doesn’t give you common sense. In business it doesn’t matter whether or not you’re from a wealthy background or how good your education was. I just love it that if you’ve got drive, determination and a can-do attitude you can achieve anything you want as an entrepreneur.

These words were joy to my ears.  All too often I come across both men and women who think they can’t compete in the world of business because they don’t have a degree or equivalent.  And I always say to them that a degree is not what will make them successful.

In my opinion, and what I have seen proven time after time over the years, is that life experience and a can do attitude wins over higher education every time.  Personally, I would far rather deal with someone who has been out there and learnt from the grass roots up than sat in a university and studied books but never actually put their learning into practice.

I have had people come to me and when I ask why they think they will be successful they tell me because they have a diploma in business studies.  This always rings alarms bells with me because no amount of book reading and attending lectures will give you the same knowledge as being out there and doing it.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I am not putting anyone down who has taken time to further their education.  And this is critical to do in certain industries such as medicine and law.  But not having this level of education should not be a barrier to being a successful entrepreneur.  Just look at the likes of Henry Ford, Richard Branson and Walt Disney amongst many others – there is a list of 100 degreeless entrepreneurs on Business Insider.  They learnt from the bottom up and it did not take letters after their name for them to be successful.

So believe in yourself.  Have a passion and a determined, can do attitude and you have all the pre-requisites of being able to start and run your own business.

How reading can help reduce stress

How reading can help reduce stress

Did you know that when you are feeling stressed, one of the best ways to help you relax is to read?  Even just six minutes can be enough to reduce the stress levels by more than two thirds.

Surprisingly, in my view, research from Mindlab International at the University of Sussex has shown that reading works better and faster to calm nerves than other methods such as listening to music or going for a walk.

The reason for this psychologists believe is because the human mind has to concentrate on reading and with the mind being taken into a literary world, tensions in muscles and the heart are eased.

We all know that feeling of being transported to a faraway world with full of excitement and interesting people with no limitations on our dreams when reading a book.  This is another reason why reading fiction can be good for us in addition to all the non-fiction that small business owners tend to try to soak up.

However, by reading non-fiction such as motivational books, or those that deal with specific problems you are having such as losing weight, getting fit or organising a home, you can realise that you are not alone with your problem or frustration as other people understand how you are feeling. This can give you a sense of hope in solving your problem and provide encouragement to put plans in place a better future.

Reading biographies of successful people that illustrate how they overcame difficult situations against all the odds can inspire you and give you the inspiration to take on a new challenge that had previously seemed unobtainable.

Humorous books can make you laugh out loud – a great stress reliever in itself.

The research from Mindlab has shown that to reduce stress levels by up to 68% subjects only needed to read, silently, for six minutes. This was shown to slow down the heart rate and ease tension in the muscles and in fact, it got subjects to stress levels lower than before they started.

So choose your reading material carefully and always carry a book with you (or your Kindle/iPad). When you feel you are in a moment of stress, take a few minutes out and go read. Transport yourself somewhere else that no one else can enter and enjoy the experience.