Working from home is a dream come true for many women. It allows us to spend more time with our families, while pursuing a career we love. But working from a home office can also be a very stressful endeavor – family members compete for our time and space, and piles of dirty laundry make it hard to concentrate.
One of the best ways to ensure that your home business is a success is to create an organized office space that works as hard for your business as you do.
Here are six simple steps to setting up your home office:
CREATE YOUR OWN SPACE
This is probably the most important step in creating a home office. There is nothing harder than trying to feel professional when you’re working around jelly smears and newspapers on the kitchen table.
Obviously, if you have an extra room in your house, then that’s going to be your first choice. If you don’t have a separate room available, there are still ways to create your own space. One option is turn a large closet into a workspace, or to use a rolling storage bin and work on a collapsible table. Another idea is to block of a corner of a room by placing privacy screens or heavy curtains around the area.
A home office can be any size, shape or set-up, as long as it works for you. When I first started working from home, I lived in a one-bedroom apartment and thought I’d have to take over the bathtub to create my own workspace. Instead, I did some creative re-arranging and set up a large desk in the corner of one room. By organizing my files and papers in vertical racks, I used less floor space and stayed more organized. Best of all, I could tell people that I had a corner office with lots of upward mobility.
DECIDE WHAT YOU NEED TO SUCCEED
Now that you’ve kicked the kids out, or sold the dusty treadmill, or whatever you did to carve out an office space, it’s time to make sure it’s stocked with the things you need to do your job.
First, make a list of everything you’ll need to run your home business. Figure out what you already have available (i.e. phone, computer). Then decide which things you need right now (a desk? a brighter light?) and which things you would like to have in the future.
While you’re making your list, be honest about how you really work. Do you like to see everything that you’re working on? Make sure you get a bulletin or magnetic board. Does clutter drive you crazy? Invest in a good-quality file cabinet to keep things out of sight.
Although you may never invite anyone to view your home office, it’s important to keep it organized for your own sake. Again, take a few minutes to think about how you work. All the best organizational advice in the world won’t work if it’s too much of a struggle. Are you a piler? Then, find a way to keep your piles organized. If you’re a filer, then make sure your file cabinet is right at your fingertips.
However you choose to get organized, it helps to clear your desk at the end of the day. Put whatever files or projects you’re working on tomorrow in plain sight, so you’ll be ready to tackle them in the morning.
USE YOUR WORKSPACE FOR WORK STUFF ONLY
While personal things such as pictures or plants add a nice touch to a home office, your spouse’s baseball hat collection is probably not going to help you work better. So, if you don’t need it in your business, and it doesn’t make your office a more comfortable place to be, don’t let it in.
DITTO FOR THE FAMILY
It’s important to set boundaries for family members too. Otherwise, you’re at-home job can suddenly become the center of attention. Let the family know that the office is off-limits. Explain to them the disadvantage of jelly stains, spilled soda, and paper airplanes made out of your budget reports.
It can also help to come up with a signal, some way of letting them know when you are and are not working. A closed office door may mean you’re on the phone, or a red ribbon around the doorknob can let them know that you aren’t to be disturbed unless it’s an emergency.
Don’t be afraid to try new things when it comes to creating your own space. If your desk is constantly covered with papers, try hanging them on the wall with a thin rope and clothespins instead. Do you have old milk crates lying around? They’re a perfect fit for portable file folders.
There is no right or wrong when it comes to setting up your home office. If something doesn’t work, try something else. Before you know it, you’ll have a comfortable, organized place to start making your millions.