Working from home is a wonderful option that many business owners are able to take advantage of when they go out on their own. Not only does working from home save on office overhead expenses, but it also gives you an opportunity to be productive in ways you may not have experienced when working in a traditional office. The following tips will help you create a home office that consistently boosts your productivity.
1. Create a Workspace
The first step of a productive home office is your workspace. Without a space dedicated to work, it’s virtually impossible to create any kind of work/life balance because there are no clear boundaries. Not only is a separate space needed for productivity, but it’s also necessary for setting expectations with other household members. Having a workspace makes it easier to “train” the rest of the household that when you’re in your workspace, you are working, and work time rules apply.
When it comes to finding the space, if you can use an entire room with a door as your office, great! But that’s not always possible. Some home offices are relegated to the corner of a room, or even a section of the hallway. It’s important that you dedicate whatever space you have solely for work and not make it a multipurpose space. If your workspace is sharing a room with something else, consider separating your work area with a screen or other room divider to create a visual separation.
2. Close Access to the Right Equipment
There are certain tools you use every day to do your job, and it’s important that you have easy access to those tools. For example, if you print documents often during the day, it can hurt your productivity to have your printer stored on the opposite side of your house. Or if you create your workspace two floors away from your wireless router, you may find that your Internet connection is just too slow for you to be productive. Figure out what equipment and tools you need to do your work and make sure you have room for them in your workspace.
3. Control Distractions
We all have distraction triggers that eat away at our productivity, regardless where we work. When you work from home, dishes in the sink, laundry that needs be done or a neighbor’s barking dog may distract you. It’s important to have a system that helps you deal with the distractions. This could mean listening to music while you work so you can’t hear the barking dog, or closing the door to the laundry room so you’re not constantly reminded of what has to be done. You may even find it helpful to schedule a time chunk during the day that allows you to take a break from work and tend to household tasks.
4. The Right Lighting
It’s hard to be productive when you end up with daily headaches from sub-par lighting in your workspace. Ideally, you will be able to situate your office in an area of your home that gets adequate natural lighting. If this isn’t the case, you’ll need to choose the best lighting for the work that you are doing. If you are at a computer all day, less direct light on your work area may be better because your eyes won’t have to work so hard. If you are doing highly detailed tasks, direct lighting will be the way to go.
5. Develop a System for Organization
Wasting time trying to find a specific paper in a huge stack of documents is a major productivity killer. Figure out your work process and create a system for getting organized. This may mean finding a place to store supplies, organizing items that you are working on right now, and even developing a system for managing files on your computer. Make sure your system works for your individual workflow and be consistent with maintaining it.
Being productive in your home office is all about being disciplined and setting the foundation for balancing your work and your personal life. You will be more productive if you are able to set boundaries (and realistic expectations). Consistency is key, and while it may take some time to get a working system in place, the more you work to make productivity a priority, the sooner you will achieve it.