Your workspace affects your work. If it’s cluttered, untidy or just generally disorganised, this impacts productivity and creativity, slows you down, and has a negative emotional effect. Being organised has several benefits, not least of which is its empowering nature, making you feel in control and efficient.
Step One: Claim a Space
Whether you can commander an entire room in the house or you’re relegated to a corner of the living room or kitchen, having a workspace helps you get in the right frame of mind for working.
You could use the furniture in living rooms to cordon off an area, such as turning sofas or bookcases perpendicular to the wall then placing your desk behind them. Screens, blinds, or sliding room dividers are other possibilities, especially if working with others in the room distracts you.
Having decided on the area, purge it of clutter or anything not business related. This could be as simple as removing novels from the bookcase or shelf where you keep reference books, to moving spare furniture into self storage if you’re taking over the spare bedroom.
If you need to, put up shelves to hold pens, books, files, or even the printer so everything is to hand. There’s little more frustrating than hunting down an item before you can get on with a task.
Step One: Create Work Zones
When working at home amidst the family, or sharing an office, it helps to create zones.
Have one zone for work done at the computer, and another where non-computer activities take place. Non-computer activities include all those that don’t need a keyboard and may include reading documents, addressing envelopes, sorting and filing invoices or anything else where you don’t need to type or look at a screen.
Dividing work like this helps to concentrate the mind so you can focus more quickly on the task. If you have a large desk, your zones could be different areas of the desktop. If you have an entire room, it’s nice to have completely separate areas.
Have tubs, trays or drawers where you can place physical items from pens and notebooks to paperclips and tape dispensers. Those things have to go somewhere and you will find them more easily if they’re not cluttering the top of the desk.
Step Three: Stock Control
Many small businesses revolve around the retail model, with online selling a popular option. Somewhere is needed to keep the stock, and there are a couple of options:
Storing at Home — Viable in the very early days when stock levels are small, as you can take over the loft or garage. Things to be aware of include.
- Access and whether delivery vehicles can reach your premises.
- Safety hazards in the form of steps, stairs or uneven surfaces.
- Storage logistics, such as what order you need things in, which sell faster and need quick access, how to label and stack boxes for safety and quick identification.
- Where you’ll pack items ready for dispatch
Storing Away From Home — Self storage facilities are increasingly aware of small business needs and provide the ideal next step when the business grows beyond the capacity of most home storage spaces. They don’t mind if you install freestanding shelving systems to hold everything, and are equally happy if you also install a desk from which to run basic admin or packing tasks.
If this is a new concept, you’ll find self storage terms and rates agreeable too, with rooms available from just a week and the option to upsize or downgrade quickly as stock levels fluctuate. Seasonal changes or overstock bargain buys are prime examples of when business stock storage needs might suddenly (temporarily) change.
Wherever you store your stock, keep track of the inventory so you know when it’s time to reorder, and organise items logically so they’re easy to locate. Try to keep packing materials close by so you don’t waste time in unnecessary fetching and carrying.
Once you have a space and system in place, be prepared to tweak and change. Nothing is cast in stone, and a fluid space is a creative space.