Tips from pros on avoiding a cluttered home business

Tips from pros on avoiding a cluttered home business
The Philadelphia Inquirer
By Jane M. Von Bergen, Inquirer Staff Writer
March 20, 2006

Here are hints from organizers and authors on how owners of home businesses can keep from becoming overwhelmed by clutter:

If you find you are not working in your home office, don’t fight it. Instead, figure out why. Maybe the lighting or furniture is bad. Maybe it’s psychologically stifling to be in a basement, attic or spare bedroom. Either solve the problem or make the place where you actually work into a more effective office. Not every house really needs a dining room.

Adriane Weinberg, organizer
An Organized Approach, Ambler

Maintain boundaries of both time and space. Turn off the office phone for two hours at dinner time. Keep work materials in the work area so the home area remains a refuge.

Maggie Jackson, author
What’s Happening to Home: Balancing Work, Life and Refuge in the
Information Age

New York

Have the discipline to think through orderly business processes, such as invoicing and bill-paying, early in your business life. If the infrastructure isn’t strong enough, it will collapse as the business grows.

Shawn Kershaw, organizer
Shawn Kershaw Inc., Chalfont

Clutter is a decision that hasn’t been made. Exercise decision-making muscle by handling small issues, such as paperwork, quickly. Use the TRAF system – toss, refer, act or file.

Stephanie Winston, author
Organized for Success
New York

Understand that the computer is simply an electronic file cabinet and that the structure of files and folders in it should parallel paper files and folders. That also applies to e-mail folders.

Barbara Bergeron, organizer
SOS Organizing Services, Chester Springs

Get training. Look into area night-school programs for inexpensive courses in accounting software, time management or paperwork productivity.

Anna Sicalides, organizer
The Organizing Consultant, Berwyn

Get help. There are groups, such as SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives, who provide free consulting. The mess may actually be poorly designed business processes.

Anna Sicalides , organizer

Use your planner, not your memory. If you say you’ll call Joe next week, pick a day in the planner, write it down and call.

Stephanie Winston, author

Tap into “kindergarten moms. ” They can only work a few hours a day, they may be desperate for adult stimulation, and they can handle some tasks, freeing you up to design brochures, make movies, fix sinks or take photographs. You may be able to barter babysitting.

Shawn Kershaw, organizer

Contact staff writer Jane M. Von Bergen at 215-854-2769 or