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Organized everywhere but home office

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  • Organized everywhere but home office

    I am well-organized and productive in a GTD/julie morgenstern way in every part of my life except my home office and the activities associated with it: personal bookkeeping, office supplies, filing, financial planning, email, web shopping/exploring, special projects, etc.

    One problem is that the physical space is quite small and the home office also has to multi-task as storage and staging areas. I seem to be able to get things done if i carefully focus, which i can do for a few hours at a time, but then once i put down the project and get back to "real life," the project sits in a pile and i space out about revisiting it and doing my project homework.

    another common occurence is i tidy up and organize the space and it looks and works quite well, but after a few days, i start dropping off stuff "to be processed" and then it again looks like a dumping free4all. (david would probably say to "process immediately"!).

    i feel like i should be able to figure this out but it's been like this since we moved in a year ago and nothing seems to be coming to me.

    i want to buy more efficient shelves and cupboards but i can't decide what to do first: get handle on budget, determine what i can spend; determine plan and phases; or just do it all at once. i just realized i'm probably going to have to pack up a bunch of stuff in order to put the new stuff in. oy vey.


  • #2
    managing a home office

    I had a similar problem--since I have an office at work and a home office (and need materials at both places), everything at home was a mess. The office doubles as an exercise room, so that complicated it. My first instinct was to go "buy stuff", but I decided to do my sorting first. That was so much better. Once I did the entire sort, I had a better idea what I needed, then was able to purchase materials that would let me organize. I also didn't need to buy as much as I originally thought, because I was able to throw some things away. The major point was--follow the system to get set up. My problem is that I have to be viligant on acting on the inbox items.


    • #3
      Sort first!

      Going through the inventory of 'items' in your world/life and getting rid of things you don't need will help give you the 'breathing space' (figuratively and literally) to get your systems set up. Clearing space is important. Start small if you have to, but start somewhere, today.


      • #4
        Start where you will feel the most benefit!

        Start where you will feel the most benefit!

        My home GtD setup took a lot longer than at work -- partly because I am not the only one involved, and partly because I didn't make it a priority.

        When I did get going, I started where I felt we would feel the benefits the most. For us, it was the bill-paying, financial end, because the disorganization there was more stress-inducing. First, I bought a large inbox for all the incoming mail. Then I set a weekly financial planning session in the calendar, and we both processed the mail and brought our accounts up to date in Quicken. I setup new bill files so we could immediately file the paid bills.

        After we had settled into more of a routine, I purged our old files (actually, just mine -- husband hadn't kept ANY records prior to me!) and moved the stuff to keep into the new filing system. What was once two large file boxes now fits in a Rubbermaid office drawer I bought from Target.

        Once we had a rhythym going, we stepped the weekly financial sessions down to bi-weekly -- the night before we both get paid. Then I created an A-Z reference file system. I keep this separate from the bills, because we don't access it as much and it was too overwhelming for my husband to be confronted with that everytime he needed to file the Verizon bill!

        It's been working very well since last July, even when we can't always do the bi-weekly session. Next project -- clearing out redundant, unnecessary stuff and selling it on eBay!


        • #5
          Thanks everyone for your input! i'm going to work on an action plan today with lots of small steps.


          • #6
            I gave up on my home office long ago and use my kitchen table. I don't know if this will work for you, but it was the right move for me. I figured out that my "home office" was a dead end and whatever I put in there wasn't going to get done. Bills would go unpaid, checks would bounce, etc. In my kitchen, the work is always in my face, and I deal with it.

            I have an inbox, one file cabinet, some file boxes, and a shredder. Office supplies are on the counter or in drawers.

            The inbox sits on the kitchen counter. I pile anything in there that needs my attention, even physical objects. I empty it often. I have to because it gets really full, fast.

            One standing open file box on a shelf has the tickler file, supporting material for next actions, filed by context (home, computer, phone, errands, paperwork, someday/maybe, pending), and some folders for projects that have more than one piece of paper (tax matters, bills, etc.)

            The top drawer of the file cabinet has A-Z misc. files, and the bottom has A-Z recent or important financial records.

            One plastic file box holds bill stubs and pay stubs, plus tax info as it comes in for the year. Another has warranties, receipts that I need to keep, instructions, etc. These sit on the floor. Another file box has things that ought to be in misc., but which I access frequently such as school info and kids' allowance accounts.

            All this is in two corners of the space where the kitchen table is. Before I started GTD it was rather messy but now it looks very nice. I also store all my periodicals and newspapers in the kitchen too. I used to put them under the coffee table, but that was another black hole.

            Actually I do have a home "office" that I rarely use. I put personal letters and other memorabilia in a box on a desk in my sewing room, and once in a while I pack them into a file folder to keep for eternity. I say this tongue in cheek because it's not really a functional setup, but it's negligible.

            I occasionally have thought a real desk would be an improvement, but as time goes by I feel the need less.



            • #7
              home office problem

              Facing the facts on the home office: 1)it will intially be messy but over time and with consistency it will get better 2)it is a working, processing, thinking space but can also be a mental play space so you should be attracted to it not repelled 3)you will need the right tools at hand including a big trash can that does not fall over and a shredder and whatever receptacles you need for recycling 4)if you can see the referigerator or easy to grab foods on a counter from it, you may create another problem for yourself 5)if reading is part of the work you intend to do in your office, then keep your "reading basket" in there. If not, put the reading basket elsewhere and only keep reference reading in the home office. For example, if you scan newly arrived catalogues for ideas, you might put them in your reading basket but once you have marked pages for possible outfits or gifts they are reference material.