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Setting Up Your Home Office

Question: I need help setting up my home office space. I have recently started a home based business after working in corporate environment for years.

Congratulations on becoming your own boss. You now have the perfect opportunity to create an effective work area suited to your tastes. Whether it's a nook, cranny or a separate room, your work area should be conducive to performing your daily work.

A well-equipped workspace will contain all necessary supplies and equipment within arms reach. Larger tools like fax machines and printers should be set up in areas with easy access.

Use a desk caddy. Keep a sufficient supply of pens, pencils, paper clips scissors and other supplies in a desktop holder or a tray inside a desk drawer.

Make sure to keep 2/3 of your desktop cleared at all times. It is easier to function and maintain focus when your desk space is open and free of clutter.

Keep your papers in process vertical instead of horizontal in piles. There are several vertical stepped file holders on the market today. One of the most useful has eight steps to hold eight manilla folders. Ideas for the folder headings would be: Calls To Make, Waiting For Response, Data Entry, Bills To Pay, Projects etc. Projects often become 2-3 working folders. Once a project contains 3-4 sheets of paper, it merits a separate folder. Store all project folders behind each other in the stepped unit. This type of system is called an "Action System". You will need to touch and work at least one of these folders every day or the system will break down and become overcrowded.

Mimic the corporate environment by creating forms for everyday tasks. For example, type up a personalized Fax Transmittal Form that includes your company name, phone number and other pertinent information. Make copies and leave them by your fax machine for quick and efficient fax transmissions. Create standard email signatures for your email correspondence.

Adhere to a daily routine and schedule. Maintain focus on your long-range goals (life and business) as you go about your daily tasks. Consider whether the busy-ness you are involved in is directly related to your long-term goals. Keep your schedule constantly aligned with the specific reason that you began working for yourself and you will go far.

Kathi Burns, founder of AddSPACE to Your Life!, is a Syndicated Newspaper Columnist, Speaker, Professional Organizer and Image Consultant based in San Diego. She can be reached at 760.436.4266 or by email:

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