Whether you’re successfully working at home or still trying to work-at-home, your home office plays an important part in your success. Having an established home office makes you feel legit and gives you the space you need to plan, implement and succeed. And because you’ll be spending a lot of time there, it helps to organize it in a way that is conducive to getting work done. For example, I need natural light, so my desk is near a window. I also like tulips and Disney, so you’ll find lots of both in my office.
Here are some tips to creating and organizing your home office.
1) Dedicate a spot as your home office. Yes, Mary Kay started at her kitchen table, as did many people. But if you eat dinner there as well, you have to put your office away. This is a hassle, makes your work-at-home effort seem unimportant, and can prevent you from taking the home office tax deduction. So find a place to plant your office 24/7. My first home office was in a coat closet. I wouldn’t recommend it, but it worked for me at the time because I could watch my son while I worked and it housed everything I needed (now I have too much stuff for a closet).
2) Create boundaries between work and life. If you can dedicate an extra bedroom or a space with a door, that is ideal. If not, use screens or arrange your furniture in away that creates a firm boundary between work and life. This helps keep you focused when you’re working, but makes it easy to transition to life when you’re done.
3) Organize your items to fit your way of working. I’m organizationally challenged. I’ve read a ton of organization books and I still struggle. The reason is because I don’t think or work the way the books suggest I organize. If it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind, so I need visual cues, which take up a lot of space. I also tend to pile and I hate filing. So I’ve had to create systems that allow me to have stuff where I can see it and in piles, and yet still help me work.
4) Use what you’ve got first. I would love to create the ideal office which would include built-ins, a U-shaped workspace, a chaise chair and/or reading nook and an assistant to keep it all organized for me. But my house doesn’t have the space for all that. So I make do with the space and equipment I have. Over the years, I’ve been able to add more or better equipment, but if you’re starting out, particularly if money is tight, be creative with the furniture and equipment you have.
5) Invest in a chair and light. The two exceptions to number four are a quality chair and good light, both of which are essential to avoid strain.
6) Add inspiration. I love working at home, but that doesn’t mean it’s isn’t drudgery sometimes. To plow through when I’m not in the mood to work, I have things that help me stay focused including good music (I use Pandora), decorations (Disney and Tulips), and motivational quotes or posters handing around my office.