So you’ve decided to work from home – congratulations! Chances are you’re going to love working in your jeans and t-shirt, without a commute and with the flexibility that a home office provides. It takes some work, however, to ensure your work space is functional, productive, has all the tools you need and is available to you when you need it. These are important criteria for an organized home office. Here are some key ingredients that can help your office meet those criteria.
Basic Ingredient: An Organized Home Office is Separate from Home Functions
When setting up a home office, clients frequently start by taking over a small part of an existing space in their home. This is a great way to see if working at home is feasible. You know the place: the computer table in the kitchen; the family computer desk in the den; the craft corner in the basement rec room. These areas are often already multi purpose space. Its where home work, crafts and family organization and communication are happening. Adding the additional pressure of a home office is sometimes more multi than these multi purpose spaces can manage. Professional organizers are brought in to help organize the home office when clients find the geography project has exploded over the latest market research report and invoices ready to be mailed.
When setting up a work at home location, establish a means of separating the business work you do physically from anything else that might happen at that work station. If you can’t fully take over a space, and have to share with other household activity, use a cupboard, box or even just a shelf where your material can be collected and put away before the homework starts up. Role model to other family members that you put away your material when not actively working at the common space; they are expected to put away their things when leaving the space. It might take a bit of reminding at first but your material will be secure and the work station can continue to be used by the family while you enjoy the advantages working at home can bring.
House big enough you get your own corner office? Lucky you. Just make sure that room has a door. Opening the door is like stepping into a corporate setting. It says “I’m at work”. Same with the office-in-a-box approach. When you empty the box onto the dining room table, you have arrived at work for the day.
Resist the temptation to use a corner of your bedroom for your home office. The bedroom is a place for rest and relaxation, not work.
Binding Ingredient: An Organized Home Office is Mostly Self-Contained and Holds its own Tools.
Think of this as permission, resources permitting, to shop for the tools your office will need and to keep them in your office, even if it is just a box. All too frequently we identify the space for our office space and then use tools from elsewhere in the house to stock it; paper from the family computer station, stapler from the kitchen, pens from the junk drawer, hole punch from the craft boxes. This can be an excellent use of extra tools around the house. It can also mean, however, that your office is raided when that hole punch is needed for the science project. You will need holders for those tools. Use a decorated juice container from your 8 year old, or top of the line from the office supply store. It doesn’t matter. What promotes keeping an organized home office is that the tools are there when you need them and can be easily accessed. The more self contained it is, the more likely your organized home office will stay organized.
Spice it Up: Add Your Unique Style
It might be a business office, but one of the advantages of a home office is the freedom to decorate to your own style and taste. Go to town and have fun. The more comfortable and personal you make the space, the more likely you are to keep it organized and functional. About to land the company’s next largest order? Do it in style. If your office is stored in a box while supper is on the table, add your own taste with a special picture, pencil holder or the coolest file folders you have ever seen. Using a cupboard? Try putting your special pictures on the inside of the cupboard and leave it open while you are at work.
A home office can be fun and flexible. A home based business can be rewarding. Keep yourself productive with an organized home office that reflects your business needs and your own personality.
When I started my business, we already had an office set up in the basement. It had initially been a shared space, but as the kids got older and got their own computers in their rooms, I was able to set it up just the way I wanted. When we moved to an apartment, one of the top priorities was a spare bedroom to use as an office. My husband treated me that Christmas with a sign for my office door. 🙂
Great article! It’s true that setting up a home office often means excavating a space to become an office. Starting with a blank slate is easier than wading through the clutter. Doing a quick sort “treasure hunt” will make it easier to get started.
Carolyn, it is so true when you don’t have a designated room, how important it is to make it look like YOUR home office. I have a corner of our small basement, and I have shelves, my POC certificate in a frame on the wall behind my laptop, an inspirational saying, and above my desk pictures from the photo booth at the conference in Toronto.
Motivation is key when you work from home, and these things help me keep my eye on the prize.
Thank you for hosting the POBC this month, Carolyn! It is nice to always have the tools you need readily available. I know what you mean about the value of having a door. I even found an open/closed sign! It reminds me that it is OK to be closed sometimes!! I’m using a spare bedroom for my office. Finally moving out the sofa bed created space for a large work table!
Congratulations on the open/closed sign. That’s a great idea to prevent a home office from becoming a second home!
Small spaces are great for helping us reconsider what is truly necessary. How do you ensure that you feel like you have time off from your business?