By September 5, 2012 Read More →

Back to school, back to home office

7 tips for getting your home office technology into shape for the new term

Back to school, back to home officeFrancesca Geens of Digital Dragonfly joins us today with some tips for increasing autumn home office productivity:

With the new school term starting, take some time to get your home office into shape and make sure the tech you rely on to run your business is optimized to help you get more work done.

1. It’s very easy to forget to empty your trash and to let documents and shortcuts build up on your desktop. Take some time to file away documents, tidy up your file structure and to only keep those shortcuts you actually use.

2. Make sure you run software updates regularly- your machine will thank you for it!

3. Not backing up your machine? This has got to be a priority regardless of how old or new your computer is. The next 3 months are very busy for most people and there would be nothing more disruptive than losing business data. There is plenty of free cloud synching storage up for grabs by the likes of Dropbox, SkyDrive and Google Drive. Invest in a good removable hard-drive too and set an automated backup.

4. If you are still using Office 2003 or Office 2007 then it is time to consider upgrading to Office 2010. Many don’t know that you can now pay for Office Professional Plus monthly on subscription from £10.25+vat and you get automatic upgrade rights when Office 2013 comes out next year.

5. Reduce email traffic by regularly unsubscribing to any newsletters you aren’t reading and set up a system to manage your workflow (even set up automated rules if you can). For me it consists of an Inbox, Action folder, Reading folder and a series of client and project folders. At the end of each day my inbox goes to zero and I know that anything than needs attention is in the Action folder. I dip into my reading folder when I have time and can easily refer back to older emails which are filed away.

6. If you haven’t separated work emails from personal emails then consider this too as it will help reduce distractions. If your business email is a free internet email account then it should be a priority to get your own domain name email, like – this is a quick and easy way to boost credibility and professionalism.

7. If you are using Outlook discover Outlook tasks and notes as a way of keeping track of things to do. If Outlook tasks isn’t your thing have a look at some of the alternatives. I recently moved everything to Trello which I am loving- it’s very visual and allows me to recreate the kind of lists I was writing in my notebook. If you like to brainstorm, then something like WorkFlowy will suit you. There are endless apps that help you manage your tasks so don’t get caught signing up to everything and using nothing. Start with one and give it a go for a couple of weeks before making up your mind.

Next month we’ll look at how to turn your home office into a mobile office so you can work from anywhere.

Francesca Geens runs Digital Dragonfly, a technology consultancy that just works with freelancers, consultants, independent professionals, home businesses and all sorts of ‘one-man bands’ and gives them peace of mind and confidence in the technology they need to run their business.

Enjoyed this? Read more by Francesca Geens on using technology in your home office.

Posted in: Technology

20 Comments on "Back to school, back to home office"

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  1. Great practical advise I can follow. I look forward to the next installment.

  2. Thanks Daniel- glad you found it useful! Next month we’ll be reaching for the clouds and looking at mobile working.

  3. Love this post. Really useful. If I could just find my way to my desk in my home office, I would get cracking right away! Have added a few things to my to-do list – especially the bit about backing up. I’m hopeless at that…

    • Judy says:

      Ha ha, Tamsin, love that! I hope you’ve managed to excavate through to the rough location of your desk by now…

  4. Do you know what? I actually did. It s hoovered, dusted, filed and generally blitzed. Got so excited I also did our bedroom. Also got quality work done dree of distracting mess. Feeling v smug. Thanks for inspiration.

  5. Love it – glad to hear it Tamsin! Gold star for you!