Operating your business from your house combines your work and the rest of your life. With both of these life aspects located in one space, you will need to develop a new set of disciplines. Priorities from each aspect of your life will be competing for your attention. There will be days when you feel that answering emails needs to be tackled first before laundry. But there will be days when you will feel that your first important job for the day will be your laundry!
To help you concentrate with work in your home office and ensure productivity, consider the following specifics when you are setting up your home office and choosing a site for your home office in your house.
1. Establish your home office in a part of the house that has lots of light and air.
Think about the year-round conditions in this spot, not just what it’s like during the season that you are setting up your home office. In buying lighting, match the type to task. Ambient lighting, which lights up the room, should be uniform and moderately bright. You may also want to have overhead lighting and floor lamps. Also keep the room from getting stuffy by providing the proper ventilation to room. Choose a space with windows that you can open to keep air circulating.
2. Set-up shop away from the busy areas in your home.
Make sure your home office is as far as possible from potential distractions such as the kitchen, front door, family traffic and a lot of noise. This is especially important if you have children and will have child care in the house during the day. If you can see or hear your children and they can see you, it will be difficult for both you and your kids.
3. Organize your supplies.
Similar to a corporate environment, you need to arrange your supplies in a way that promotes efficiency. You need not lift two stacks of bond paper just to get to your business stationery located at the furthermost end of your cabinet. Hide supplies that you do not need everyday such as extra rolls of tape and piles of bond paper; but keep within reach a small cache of supplies at your desk or near enough that you can reach them. Stack extra supplies under your desk, out of kicking range. If space permits, keep extra supplies in a cabinet or cupboard. If it makes you more comfortable and efficient, consider hanging the phone on the wall near your desk to help free some desk space.
4. Set up things so they function smoothly.
Maximize the layout of your home office space with the goal of promoting efficiency of operations foremost in the design. Arrange your things to help you function better. For example, remove stacks of paper in front of your fax machine that could potentially block and jam incoming documents. Manage your workflow creatively.
5. Limit the things in your home office to items that you need for your business.
Clear out all of the old clutter in your home office area. If you set-up your home office in your attic, make sure that you have enough room for all your requirements. It is difficult to work in a place filled with stuffs irrelevant to your business. However, if you cannot remove these things from the room, make sure that you move them out of your vision. Create visual and psychological separation by enclosing the area with a screen or a decorative barrier could be a way to address this problem. Tidiness of the office environment can help improve your productivity.
6. A home office does not need to be a separate room.
If space is an issue, you can simply set-up a table and a chair in one corner of a room. You can also use the space underneath the stairways, the space at the end of hallways, or the loft space and landing between floors. Some even work in a nook off the kitchen. The important thing is that you can have a permanent workspace that is dedicated to your work. The disadvantage of this set-up, however, is the potential for distraction.
7. Have a dedicated work area.
The ideal situation is to have a permanent room for your work area, both from a productivity and taxation point of view. A distinct workspace helps condition your mind that this is a place where you do work. Moreover, having a separate area that is used exclusively and regularly for your business is an important criterion to qualify for tax deductions for your home office. If you are prepared to do some renovations, you can consider converting your attic, basement, deck off the living room or kitchen, carport or garage into your very own home office.
Recommended Books on Setting Up Your Home Office:
- The Smarter Home Office: 8 Simple Steps to Increase Your Income, Inspiration and Comfort
- Building the Custom Home Office: Projects for the Complete Home Work Space by Barrett, Niall (2002) Paperback
- At Work, At Home: Design Ideas for Your Home Workplace by Zimmerman, Neal (2001) Hardcover
- A Space of My Own: Inspirational Ideas for Home Offices, Craft Rooms Studies
- Taunton’s Home Workspace Idea Book (Taunton Home Idea Books) by Zimmerman, Neal (2003) Paperback
- 10 Common Home Office Mistakes
- How to Create a Home Office that Works
- What Qualifies for a Home Office Tax Deduction?
- Starting a Home-Based Secretarial Business
- Tax Time: Check If You Qualify for Home Office Tax Deductions