Get productive: create the ideal home office workspace
Tell friends still stuck in a 9to5 job that you now work from home, and you’re guaranteed to get a few green-eyed looks and remarks. It’s a dream many of us have: managing our own time, balancing work with family and still making a decent living – sometimes more than we would make working for someone else!
As if that’s not enough, you also beat the rush-hour commute jammed between sweaty strangers and have the freedom of spending all day in your slouchwear (school run excepted) without having to deal with annoying colleagues. To outsiders, it’s a dream come true.
But as you’re already well aware, the reality of working from home isn’t as picture-perfect as we like to imagine.
With the TV too close for comfort and family members or friends constantly popping in for a chat, distractions are almost impossible to avoid. If you’re not careful they’ll soon have your career coming to a standstill as you struggle to keep up with your workload.
So to help you stay on track, we’re sharing a few top tips on creating a calm and productive home office.
Separate living and working spaces
The good thing about a clinical office environment is that it’s perfect for getting you in the right frame of mind for working – at home, the familiar surroundings are far too relaxing.
The trick is to separate living and working spaces, creating a home office that you never use for anything other than doing your job. You can do this no matter how large or small your home office space is – it’s all about being clever about it.
If you’ve got a big enough house, then give yourself a whole room. If money is no problem, you could make a dedicated working space by building an extension or split-level mezzanine floor design. Otherwise, position your desk away from TVs and busy areas like the kitchen and living room.
Go for minimalist chic
When it comes to setting your office up – no matter its size – focus on making a calm and distraction-free environment.
First, get the interior decorating right – go for soothing colours like pale blues or mint greens (if you tend to get easily stressed), or opt for pastel yellow for a more creative atmosphere.
Then it’s time to declutter. Piles of messy paperwork and half-finished cups of coffee on every surface don’t scream that this is an inviting place to work. Keep everything filed away and neatly organised in containers or drawers. It will help you start your day with a clear mind and help you think about what you need to do.
Invest in the right equipment
As you’re now essentially your own office manager, you’re responsible for maintaining supplies, looking after computers and staying on top of the latest software updates.
Fail to do so and technical hiccups and paper shortages will become frequent, annoying disruptions. When you first start working from home, it may be tempting to keep costs down on your costs, but technology moves on fast, so if you always go for the cheap, you’ll probably end up upgrading much more often than you would if you paid a little more, which is much more costly in the long run. So, invest in the right equipment to keep the costs of working from home to a minimum.
One of the most vital elements – and also the easiest to overlook – is your internet connection. Since most of your communication with clients and remote colleagues will take place over email and social media, make sure you’ve got the best provider and package your budget will allow. Cheap Ian;t always a bargain – especially if your connection is slow or unreliable. Be sure to check the connectivity in your area before you choose a provider, to avoid issues once you’ve signed your life away.
Build a home office following our top three tips, and you’ll get to enjoy a fruitful and happy career free from the constraints and annoyances of traditional workplaces! That is a major part of the plan, isn’t it?
Founder and editor of www.motherswhowork.co.uk, a mother of two wonderful children, wife, entrepreneur (check out www.geekschool.co.uk) and journalist.