Erica Christoffer is a multimedia journalist and contributing writer and editor for REALTOR® Magazine. She can be reached at email@example.com.
5 Steps to an Organized Home Office
With the help of a professional organizer, Coldwell Banker sales associate Bridget Gricus organized her home office in five easy steps. Here's how you can, too.
July 1, 2012
As more REALTORS® go mobile or work from home, many find they need a well-thought-out home office to boost their productivity, eliminate distractions, and stay organized.
Coldwell Banker sales associate Bridget Gricus of Evergreen Park, Ill., hired professional organizer Colleen Klimczak to help create a clutter-free, professional space where she could focus on her job.
Klimczak has modeled her organizing method after Julie Morgenstern’s SPACE system. SPACE is an acronym that stands for sort, purge, assign a home, containerize, and equalize.
“These steps really are effective and have a nice follow-through,” says Gricus.
For REALTORS® seeking a system to rid their home office of clutter and distraction, here is how SPACE can be put to use:
1. Sort: Begin your home office organization by sorting your items into categories such as supplies, electronics, contacts’ information and business cards, clients’ information, financial statements, forms, personal treasures, etc. From there, sort the categories into level of importance, timeliness and date, purpose, how and when it’s used, and so on.
2. Purge: Just as you’ve sorted home office items you want to keep, sort what you want to get rid of into categories of garbage, shred, recycle, or donate. “You can’t be overly sentimental, because this is a workspace,” Klimczak says. Her advice is to ask yourself, “Do you need it? Do you love it? Do you use it?” If you can’t answer yes to one of those three questions, then the item must go.
3. Assign a home: Drawers, closets, file cabinets, folders, shelf space, boxes, etc. are “homes” for your office items. When it comes to the most common type of office item – documents – it can be helpful to divide them into current “open” files (or “to-do” work) and past “closed” files. Klimczak recommends keeping your most important or “open” files most accessible. Some people find it helpful to create “to-do” folders by month, week, or day.
4. Containerize: It’s important to be able to find your items once you’ve put them away, and labeling can help with that. Klimczak brings a label maker, a box of hanging folders, a small set of tools, storage boxes, Sharpies, and garbage bags to all her appointments.
5. Equalize: Another word for maintenance, equalize is the system you establish to keep your home office in order. Klimczak suggests adding an action item on your to-do list, whether it’s in your calendar or on your phone, as a reminder to take 10 minutes for a pared-down version of SPACE. Utilize the homes you’ve assigned and containers you’ve created, while updating files and disposing of clutter.
If you are setting up a home office for the first time, it’s critical to establish the workspace in a location of your home where business can be conducted without interruptions.
“Create a space and allow that space to become yours,” says Gricus, who is a fan of professional organizers. “Having a support system is nice, especially if it’s not a personal friend who can get you organized and do a follow-up call once a month — it will keep you on your toes.”