One of the hardest parts of starting a new remote career is finding your organizational grove. With so much flexibility and no hard limit on office supplies in your own space, Virtual Vocations offers 20 organization hacks to help you be your best self while you work.
20 Organization Hacks for Remote Professionals
When you first set out to work virtually, the excitement can make it easy to stick to a strict schedule. However, as the months progress and you get more relaxed, your once tidy desk can start to pile with paperwork. As the volume of contracts, invoices, files, and emails grow, your anxiety level can rise along with it.
Here are 20 organization hacks to help you escape the clutter cycle and stay on top of your game.
1. Get a Personal Assistant App
There are a variety of no-cost apps you can use to help free up the mental clutter of remembering tasks, events and more. Making your hectic day much less stressful, personal assistant apps help collect your daily information as well as other information stored on your phone, email, and within documents.
Related: 14 Free and Low-Cost Software Tools for Remote Teams
Prepare ahead of time for a meeting by getting a reminder to start working on your presentation or be aware of the weather in case you usually work outside and need to work from a different location. Some assistant apps even use your habits to adapt how they respond to requests and what information is collected. Regardless if you are team Android or iOS, you can find a helpful assistant to help keep organized.
2. Create Your Own Desk Calendar
Technology isn’t the only way to stay organized on a daily basis. If you like to express your DIY side, you can create a simple desk calendar for major events and deadlines so that you never miss an important date.
Use an extra large sticky note and draw a calendar using a ruler to create the lines. You can mark each day or simply indicate the start of the week. Incorporate stickers and markers to highlight what matters most you. If you want to take your calendar creation to the next level, consider creating a bullet journal.
3. Use Google Calendar
If digital solutions are more your style, you can use Google Calendar to create a comprehensive planner. Not only does Google Calendar come with notifications and reminders, you can use different colors to indicate various event types to further add to your organizational strategy.
4. Re-Organize Your Files
If you’ve had a home office for more than a year, you probably have an array of files spread across different folders. There may even be a document or two hiding under a notebook on your desk. It is easy to misplace an important document if you don’t review your files at regular interviews.
At least every three months, take some time to go through your paper document files and be sure that your current system is still working for you.
Cut down on confusion by creating a new filing system to keep your documents secure. You can move your file cabinet to a new location or re-label your file categories to better fit how they are being used at the current stage of your career.
5. Create a Digital Filing System
Along with a physical filing system, the documents stored on your computer should also be organized in a logical manner. Often multiple versions of the same document can add disorder to your digital system.
Cleanse your Word documents, PDFs, and Excel sheets by creating easy to understand categories and pathways to get access to your frequently used documents. For more technology perfect for your home office, we outlined a list of the best tools to help you stay productive once you get organized.
6. Organize Cables and Wires
When working remotely, the sheer number of wires, cords, and devices at and around your desk can add a level of chaos to any home office. A simple way to reduce wire clutter is to use a cable organizer and hide your cables under your desk. If you find your current cords are too short, invest in a surge protector with a good amount of space to plug in all your necessities.
7. Invest in a Rolling Cart
If you are short on space, utilize the area you do have to its best ability. Consider purchasing a rolling cart for your files and supplies. You can organize this cart as you would a stationary filing cabinet and move it out of the way after your workday.
An additional benefit of the mobile filing cabinet is that you can easily access the items you need during the day by moving it quickly, saving you the need to travel back and forth to retrieve individual files.
8. Get a Monitor Stand
As you work during the day, it is easy to begin to slump, putting pressure on your back and neck. This stress on your physical body can reduce your productivity and make any quest for organization obsolete. Additionally, having your monitor up higher leaves more room on your desk. Clear space is a great way to promote calm while you work.
9. Get a Keyboard and Wrist Rest
Along the same comfort lines, a keyboard and wrist rest can help prevent strain on your hands and wrists so you can work longer.
Organization is as much a mental strategy as it is a physical practice.
Invest in items for your home office that assist you in feeling positive about your work. Having pain-free wrists and hands is a great start to overall comfort when telecommuting.
10. Create a Privacy Curtain
Just because you have a small office area doesn’t mean you can’t create the perfect space. If you cannot entirely rid yourself of clutter, you can mask it to help your space look and feel more spacious, open, and organized.
Privacy curtains can be hung from your ceiling and drawn down while you work to cover a bookshelf or other items that share your live-in office space. You can also use a folding screen divider or make your own divider using sheer paper or fabric.
11.Try Woven Baskets
If the idea of too many boxes and bins is not your idea of a peaceful work environment, try out assorted baskets you can place under your desk to hide clutter and keep essentials such as pens, staples, tabs, and rubberbands neatly stored. Baskets also add a nice design aspect to any plain office space, displaying your unique personality and sense of style while keeping you organized.
12. Color Code
Color is a powerful tool for organization. It can assist you in remembering important tasks and form associations that create pathways in your brain for long-term memory storage.
Studies show that color coding can enhance memory recall and increase performance. Complementary colors help us differentiate things, whereas monochromatic colors help form categories. In your office space, use color coding to better assemble your workstation. Tabs in particular colors can help you easily find subcategories.
13. Use a Physical Inbox
Do you receive both professional and personal mail at your home address? You’ll want to be sure to separate the packages, labels, and mail you receive for work from the mail associated with your home life.
Use a small inbox to keep track of what items you need to mail and what items you need to review. Be sure to create a limit for the amount of time an item can sit in the inbox. Clearing the box at least once a week is a great way to keep it clear of too much excess.
14. Utilize Email Filters
Your physical mailbox is not the only mail home that can use an organizational boost. As email pours in throughout your day, an important message could be buried in minutes. Never miss a vital message by applying labels and filters to your inbox.
You can automatically place mail from particular people or with specific subjects in an appropriate folder to be reviewed. Junk mail and nonessential emails can be placed in their own folder to be deleted regularly. Email is a powerful tool when used to its full potential. Review your email settings to find a way to optimize its use.
15. Invest in a Scanner
One way to reduce clutter in your home office is to reduce the number of paper files you use. Aside from legal and financial documents of which you may need physical copies, files can be digitized and stored on your computer or within cloud software.
You use your scanner to create PDFs of documents and assign them to folders. You can also scan notes to get rid of old notebooks.
16. Get a Shredder
Once you’ve made use of your scanner, you can shred the unneeded documents and recycle the paper. It is a great practice to shred documents you don’t need each week, not only for organization, but also for security. The paper can be reused and your office space can maintain its shine.
17. Use a Time Mapping App
Free productivity apps can assist you with organizing your day, keeping track of how much time you spend on daily activities, and encouraging you to focus on a single task.
Apps such as Focus Booster help you block out distractions and get down to work, while Toggl helps you track your speed and productivity over time and delivers weekly reports to help you continue to improve.
18. Rely on a Digital Budget Sheet
As a work from home employee or contractor, it is up to you to track your expenses. Many mobile banking apps include a feature that maps your monthly spending. If your bank doesn’t support this feature, you can download an app that assists in tracking weekly, monthly, and quarterly spending so you can better organize your finances for tax season.
19. Use a Milage Counter
If you travel for your job, you should keep track of the miles you are racking up on your car. You can use an app or an in-car device to measure each work-related trip and log miles, distance and the nature of the trip. This will save you the hassle of weeding through receipts to attempt to put all the data together when you need it.
20. Consider a Meal Planner or Meal Delivery Service
Health should still be a major priority even when working remotely. At times when you work from home, going grocery shopping after a long day can seem impossible. Reduce the stress of healthy eating by planning out your meals by the week or by month. You can purchase unperishable items to last the entire month and then shop for fruits, veggies, and other fresh items each week.
Related: Meal Delivery Services: 10 Options for Busy Telecommuters
There are also a variety of food prep services that will deliver fully prepared meals or ingredients for meals right to your door. If you have mobility issues or struggle with finding time or inspiration to cook, these options will allow you to still get your recommended daily nutrients without becoming exhausted.
Get Organized Today
Remote work is a lifestyle. The more you invest in finding the organization hacks that work for you, the better your work from home life will be. Every organization tip, trick or strategy won’t be perfect for you, so experiment with suggestions until you define a strategy that helps you feel empowered and in control of your time.
Photo Credits: 1. iStock.com/Oko_SwanOmurphy; 2. iStock.com/XiXinXing; 3. iStock.com/jfairone; 4. iStock.com/baona
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