If you are working from home you need a home-based office but how do you create one? You really shouldn't use your kitchen or dining room table. And don't try to put a small desk in the corner of the family room. You need space and you need privacy. It's best if you can set aside a full room -- a spare bedroom, a basement storage room, something large enough, something dedicated to the purpose, and something with a door you can close.

Over time, as you work in your home office, things will get stacked and layered around you. Used coffee mugs may collect. A stack of files you keep meaning to put somewhere just sits and sits. Software boxes, bills, scrps of paper, pens all pile up. And then one day, when something gets in your way or disappears for the umpteenth time, you suddenly realize a little home office organization is long overdue.

Home office organization seems like a big job. Sometimes it seems insurmountable. It really isn't. Although it tends to be overwhelming at first glance it really isn't. In just a handful of basic steps you can make your office space functional and attractive again. Each one only takes a few minutes. You can do them all together or one at a time as you find the time to do so.

1) Pick up three things and remove them.
You can almost always find something (three somethings!) that don't belong in your office. It may be a used mug or an empty snack plate or a crumpled wrapper or some other garbage that didn't make it to the basked. Pick up three things and put them where they belong.

2) Organize one filing drawer.

Files in filing cabintes seem to magically move out of order on their own. And somehow the files you take out never seem to get back in their place -- if they get back at all! If you take the time to organize, and replace the files from, one file drawer you will have accomplished one big step in getting your office back to the way it should be.

3) Clear the bulletin board.
Bulletin boards are great places to post those little reminders you need to keep you on track. They nicely hold the picture little Mary drew for you last week. And they gather the bits and pieces of news clippings, coupons, and such, that have no other place to go. But they quickly become an over-blown mess as you find more and more things to pin up. Take a few minutes and clear the board completely. File things that need keeping. Trash things that don't. And only replace the things that absolutely need to be back on the board.

4) Clean one desk drawer.
Desk drawers tend to be catch-alls. This is especially true of home office desks. Over the weeks you slip one thing, and then another, into the desk drawer for safe keeping. Day by day, week by week, the drawer fills up until you can hardly get it closed any more. Take everything out of the drawer and look it over carefully. If it needs to be kept be sure it is kept in the right place. Otherwise, out it goes.

5) Clear off your desk.
Desk tops are almost as bad as desk drawers. It's like they are a magnet for things. Take time to clear off your desk putting things away where they belong and throwing out those things that are no longer needed. What's left can be neatly organized to free up more space than you remember you had.

If you do one of these things each day you'll have all five done in a week. Repeat the ones that apply to additional drawers and files in the next week and then start over. Before you know it your office will be clean and tidy and you won't need this list any more... well, until next time.

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