Your Home Office is a Very Important Business to Manage

Your home office is like a major corporation.  Along with paying bills and managing important financial papers you need to keep track of household information, along with kid’s school and sports.   It can be hard to keep all the papers, books, and forms organized.                      

You are the office manager for the most important corporation in the world; your home.  Your corporation produces our future generation.  Organization is just as important in your home as it is in a large corporation and for many of the same reasons. You have to manage receivables (that paycheck and the income from home businesses), payables (bills), and purchasing (keeping your home furnished, the pantry supplied, and children clothed).  To sustain this dynamic environment, you will also need to file and be able to access information about committees and organizations, canceled checks, financial statements, birth certificates, insurance policies, manuals, warranties, and even the magazine that holds the recipe with which you are anxious to impress your in-laws. 

 The ultimate solution is to establish a home ahead of time for booklets, manuals, receipts, and other papers.  Keep everything separate and make sure the person that needs to access the materials knows where each item is located.  You would not want your notes on planning a 50’s party to get lost in a stack of bills.

 Designate a physical location in which to conduct your home business affairs.  Ideally this would be an office or study.  An alternative would be a designated work area in a corner of a larger room in your home.  Make sure this is not a room in which you will entertain guests or allow young children to play. Whether you are scheduling a surprise party or paying a bill, keep basic supplies on hand so you do not have to scramble when a need arises.  Minimum requirements include a workspace (table or desk), a phone, and a calendar.  A computer, fax machine, and copier are added bonuses.  Use a drawer or caddy for pens, pencils, calculator, ruler, paper clips, rubber bands, stapler, stamps, address labels, and tape.      

 Purchase a locked file cabinet for financial and other important documents.  Label files by subject; birth certificates, vehicle information, mortgage and loan documents, tax receipts, social security papers, insurance, certificates, diplomas, paid bills, income tax information, budgets, and receipts.  Using a portable file for unpaid bills allows you to pay bills in the doctor’s waiting room or while waiting in the stands for soccer practice to end.  Of course, paying bills is a more pleasant experience if you do it while watching a good movie.  Keep the bills, stamps, return address stickers, envelopes, and a calculator in the portable file.  You may also choose to keep a checkbook in the container if your system allows for it.  Information that is extremely vital or sensitive in nature should be kept in a safe deposit box.  Purge the files at the end of the year.  Store items such as receipts and paid bill stubs in a box labeled with the applicable year.  This will allow space for another year’s worth of information in your file cabinets.           

Buy a stack of colored pocket folders and designate a different color for each category in your files.  Label the outside of the folder using a wide black marker.  The combination of a clear, easy to read label and color-coding by subject will make finding information simple.  These colored folders are inexpensive and readily available. They are easy to pull out and carry with you. If you are planning a school reunion you can keep everything pertaining to the event in one folder, taking it with you when you visit the potential event site or caterer.   

The computer is a powerful tool to help you manage information in your home.    Keep hard copies of vital information, and always back-up (archive) important files.

 New organization systems are great but they are not always the answer.  Be flexible to change the things that are not working efficiently for you.  Your goal is to be organized and manage your time productively.   

 “Your home is a very important business to manage!”

About Diana Koenig