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Published on April 29, 2020

20 Easy Home Office Organization Ideas to Boost Your Productivity

20 Easy Home Office Organization Ideas to Boost Your Productivity

Working from home at first sounds glamorous. Making your own hours, being your own boss (in some cases), amongst other things. But when you get to work, you can find plenty of issues. One of the big challenges is productivity.

As someone who’s been working from home for a pretty long time, I’ve come to understand how important an organization is. For a time when I was so focused on work, my office would become a mess as I prioritized work over keeping things clean. It wasn’t the brightest of ideas once I reorganized my life and my workspace.

So to help you not fall into the same trap, here are some tools and home office organization ideas to get you organised.

Before Anything, Do These Things…

But before I get to the suggested items, there are some important things to go over. These tips will help you in determining what to buy and what’s worth the investment. Even though many have gotten stimulus cheques, it’s key that you spread them out and make them last.

With this in mind, here are some ideas:

  • Take inventory – Before buying, figure out what you have and what you need. Remove items that don’t make you productive or are in the way and assess after that.
  • Stretch the tools – Look for items that go above and beyond organizing. For example, bins are great for piling up paper, but getting dividers can save you office space and give you the same results.
  • Make sure everything is visible and accessible – Organized means many things for people. To me, all that matters is you organize in a way where you can get easy access and that it’s visible.

With these in mind, here are 20 suggestions:

1. For Better Posture, Get A Monitor Stand

When sitting at a desk, posture matters. Speaking from my own experiences, poor posture did leave me to be unproductive as I suffered from back pain. It was unbearable especially when I was working long hours.

One simple way to improve your posture is through monitor stands. These elevate your monitor so that it’s on eye level. This means you can sit in your chair properly without having to look down or up and strain your neck or back.

From boxes to books, you can improvise a monitor stand if need be. Though I’d recommend getting a proper monitor stand like AmazonBasics Wood Monitor Stand with a Computer Riser.

    2. For Extra Space, Get Some Shelves

    Your desk is where work happens and it can build up with clutter when you least expect it. Clutter curbs productivity so anything that can expand your space is good. One such option is through shelving.

    The amount of shelving space differs, of course, though extra space is still extra space. If you can, some simple shelving space works. If you’re in an apartment or aren’t able to nail shelves, there are several nailless options too.

      3. For Desks Without Shelves, There Are Undershelf Baskets

      Storage is most important but there are some things that you want to be keeping close. Furthermore, you want to have some items off your desk and within arms-reach.

      While you could use the assistance of drawers, drawers can be used to store larger things. Or if your desk doesn’t have any, this particular item will help in this scenario. Enter undershelf baskets.

      So long as your desk is built to have the basket slide in, you can create extra shelving that’s compact and not intrusive. I recommend going to metal under shelf baskets as they are sturdier.

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        4. Use Drawer Dividers to Divide Supplies

        Depending on what you are working on and how you use your desk, drawers are extra space for more than just files. Sometimes you’ve got office supplies that are thrown in drawers or maybe other tools you use for work.

        Regardless, having drawer dividers is one way to keep everything organized in one place. At least in terms of the smaller items that you want off your desk. My suggestion for a drawer divider is to get the Amazon Basics brand version as it’s cheap, versatile, and simple.

          5. Use Binder Clips to Keep Wires Tidy

          Depending on the structure of your desk, this idea could work for you in staying more organized. What binder clips have to do with this is that binder clips can be very good at keeping wires off your desk space and out of sight.

          Since there are so many devices these days that use wires, a desk can quickly get cluttered and can cause undue stress to you. Binder clips – especially ones with different shapes and sizes – are a good alternative to keeping various wires and cords out of sight.

            6. Use Labels to Name Important Cords

            Another way to organize office space is by labelling them. For those who have a lot of cords, putting cord labels on them can help remove stress in several ways.

            For example, if you’re someone who uses a lot of plugs, a labelling system can ensure that you know what is plugged in at the time. It also helps when swapping out plugs from other sockets. If all the wires and plugs look similar you could pull the wrong one.

            By labelling cords, you’re removing the guesswork and saving time by not pulling out the wrong plug. Labels make it quick and easy to identify which is which.

              7. Have Thoughts, Ideas, or Tasks? Jot Them Down

              Going paperless is ideal, but not everyone is willing to take that leap. Some people, myself included, enjoy the feel of writing down in a notebook to some capacity.

              My recommendation is the Productivity Planner as it can serve as a daily planner. Compared to an ordinary notebook, this provides specific space for you to write out what you want to get done. While a typical notebook works too, it can get cluttered, unlike this notebook.

                Notebooks are essential pieces to productivity as it organizes your thoughts. Similar to a cluttered desk, if your mind is scattered, it’ll be distracting.

                8. Want to Move Things Around? Try Casters

                Casters can be an unusual organizational tool on the surface however they are very good at a specific task. That task being when you need to move your desk for whatever reason. I’ve also found many start-up companies using this trick as well.

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                These casters are sturdy and make moving a desk around easy. This boosts productivity because you’re spending less time reorganizing your home office rather than working.

                  This idea has done wonders for startups since casters have made it easier to move desks together for collaboration efforts. While we’re still in isolation, casters can make it easy to move your desk to avoid distractions. Maybe you work near a window where the sun gets in your eyes. Moving your desk to a better location is a solution and it’s a lot easier when the desk is on wheels.

                  9. Need a Designated Spot for Items? A Landing Pad

                  There is some flexibility with this item as there are many ways to create “a landing pad”. What this basically means is a place on your desk where things are permitted to be on your desk.

                  This spot is small, but how you make it is up to you. You can dedicate the desk tray to this spot, or you can use duck tape to mark a spot on top of your desk.

                  By having a dedicated spot to place items and having it loom over you serves as a reminder to keep your space clean. While cleaning does break up your flow, if you’re someone who uses things once and doesn’t place them away, the pile of stuff can become more distracting and disruptive.

                  By having a specific spot for items after they’re used, you can quickly retrieve those items or put them away in little time.

                    10. Some Greens in the Office Boost Productivity

                    While plants should remain off your desk, they do boost productivity. Research has found that having a plant in the workplace improves memory retention amongst other things[1].

                    The biggest reason to have plants is they add more color to the office atmosphere without being too distracting. Paired up with some of the other benefits plants bring, it makes sense to have something small and easy to take care of. My suggestion is these succulent plants along with any other leafy green plant.

                      11. A Compact Storage Space on Your Desk

                      I’ve mentioned various iterations of this through a landing pad or even a drawer divider. That said, a desk organizer is more compact than a drawer divider and a good place to store smaller items – like office supplies – while saving your landing pad for larger items.

                      Amazon Basics has a solid option for desk organizers since they are cheap and a good alternative for the aforementioned methods.

                        12. A Photo to Remind You Why You Work

                        In the 80s, people thought the less personal you are the more productive you’ll be. That, however, isn’t the truth as pictures represent who we are and play a significant role in how well you can work [2].

                        One picture should be enough so long as you make it meaningful to you. The reason this works is that pictures invoke emotions and when you have a picture reminding you why you work, it means you’re working for a purpose. In other words, a picture can remind you of your goals and give you direction. All that matters after that is getting it in a nice picture frame. Here are some cheap and appealing options.

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                          13. Stay Hydrated with a Nearby Water Bottle

                          Staying hydrated is essential since our body does need water to survive. Researchers have also found that by drinking water, you are boosting your mental performance as well [3].

                          At the same time, dehydration can lead to fatigue and getting less done. So drink up! One way to help with that is to invest in a water bottle with time marker and keep it around your desk.

                          The marker on the bottle indicates how much water you should’ve had at various points throughout the day. There are other more sophisticated water bottles that do the same thing, but this is one of the cheaper options.

                            14. A 60 Minute Timer to Practice an Effective Productivity Hack

                            A common productivity hack is the Pomodoro technique. It’s a technique where you spend 20 minutes focusing on a task and then spending 20 minutes on something else. It’s an effective productivity technique, though I often find 20 minutes to not be enough during certain tasks.

                            To properly use this technique, you’ll want a kitchen timer rather than using your phone. While your phone does the same thing, it can be distracting. By having the Zyyini Kitchen Timer, you can set it up to 60 minutes if need be.

                              15. Accessorize and Make Shelving With Pegboards

                              While getting some strong and sturdy shelves is a viable option, you may find pegboards to be a better option. Especially if you are someone who wants to add more flair to your environment.

                              Pegboards are easy to put up, though require additional costs since you’ll need to get hooks and extra bins too. This pegboard though is cheap and offers a respectable size for the price.

                              Pegboards serve as a more customizable shelving unit. It’s customizable since you can decorate it as well and have it pop out more compared to stacking items on shelves. Of course, this also frees up space on your desk, though significantly more than what a single shelf can do if you’re smart about that space too.

                                16. Shed Some Light With an Adjustable Lamp

                                Proper lighting to see what you are doing makes sense. The only drawback is having a desk lamp takes up space and can often be intrusive too. To keep up with the policy of having a clean desk, my suggestion is an adjustable floor lamp.

                                They are at a higher pricing point overall, but this option is well worth the investment. Furthermore, the fact you can adjust lighting is good for how you are working as well. The more you able to adjust and customize, the more of a benefit an item can bring.

                                  17. Have Reminders With Bulletin Boards

                                  While this provides the same benefits as both shelves and pegboards, a bulletin board is still a wise investment. They are cheaper alternatives to shelves and pegboards while providing similar functions.

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                                  And even if you do have shelves or a pegboard, a bulletin board can serve as reminders for daily tasks or a source of motivation. Similar to vision boards, these can be a collection of pictures and quotes to get you excited and motivated.

                                    18. Have Comfort With an Office Chair

                                    One of the most expensive items on this list for good reason. A chair is everything if you are someone who works at a desk. If you are going cheap on a chair, you’re losing a lot in both comfort and productivity. If you’re not comfortable, it means your body is hurting and if your body is hurting, the pain will distract you from work.

                                    While sitting in a chair for several hours is going to affect anyone, you still want comfort to be in mind. And that means being comfortable paying at least a few hundred dollars for a good chair that’ll last you for years to come.

                                    My suggestion is one of Realspace’s chairs. They are on the cheaper end for high valued chairs and provide great comfort.

                                      19. Headphones to Block out Noises and Distractions

                                      Even when working in a home office, there are sounds that can be distracting. These things can break your concentration and momentum if you are deep in thought and focus.

                                      One way to mitigate these distractions is by getting some headphones. Ideally, those that cancel out noises since they will muffle your hearing and thus the odds of getting distracted. I’d recommend Sony MDRZX110NC Noise Cancelling Headphones.

                                        Also, just because you have headphones doesn’t mean you have to listen to music. Actually, it’s better if you don’t listen to music at all. According to Daniel Levitin, listening to music doesn’t help while wearing headphones as is will.[4]

                                        20. Add a Little Personality With a Mouse Pad

                                        Everyone knows that color has a psychological impact on both our mood and productivity. While every item mentioned thus far has customization, let’s not forget about the mouse pad.

                                        Mouses on wood aren’t the best. You can scratch the wood and sometimes moving the mouse can be a pain due to the surface. A mousepad makes it smoother and doesn’t damage the desk.

                                        But you can go one step farther by making the mousepad customizable. You can make it a color of your choice, or it could be used as an extra picture, boosting your motivation by serving as a reminder as well.

                                          The Bottom Line

                                          With more people working out of their homes, organization and productivity are key aspects. With the various supplies, hacks, and resources provided, you can be sure that you’ll have a clean and professional space to get work done.

                                          Featured photo credit: Domenico Loia via unsplash.com

                                          Reference

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                                          Leon Ho

                                          Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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                                          Last Updated on January 6, 2021

                                          14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

                                          14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

                                          Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

                                          In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

                                          For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

                                          For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

                                          Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

                                          Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

                                          Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

                                          How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

                                          Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

                                          1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

                                          Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

                                          For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

                                          2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

                                          Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

                                          Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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                                          Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

                                          3. Create a System

                                          Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

                                          This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

                                          You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

                                          Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

                                          Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

                                          4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

                                          We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

                                          If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

                                          Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

                                          Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

                                          5. Use a Ratings Scale

                                          Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

                                          Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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                                          It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

                                          6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

                                          This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

                                          You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

                                          You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

                                          7. Offer Feedback Forms

                                          Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

                                          First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

                                          Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

                                          You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

                                          8. Track Cost Effectiveness

                                          This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

                                          Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

                                          Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

                                          9. Use Self-Evaluations

                                          Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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                                          Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

                                          10. Monitor Time Management

                                          This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

                                          Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

                                            The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

                                            While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

                                            11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

                                            We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

                                            Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

                                            For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

                                            Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

                                            Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

                                            From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

                                            12. Utilize Peer Feedback

                                            This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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                                            Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

                                            Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

                                            It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

                                            13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

                                            When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

                                            Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

                                            Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

                                            14. Use an External Evaluator

                                            Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

                                            They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

                                            While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

                                            Final Thoughts

                                            These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

                                            The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

                                            The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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                                            Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

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