As more people make the decision to work from their homes to save time and money, they have to be realistic about their expectations. To be productive in a home office environment, we must utilize the space effectively and reduce the usual distractions.
- Define your home office space, even if your office is a corner of the family room or kitchen. Keep all office-related items in one place to create an efficient central spot and eliminate wasted time looking all over the house for things you need.
- Set up your home office with the same essential tools used in larger businesses. It would be best to have ample desk space, office supplies, filing cabinets, a calendar, wastebasket, phone, answering machine and a computer. Designate separate supply storage areas for family members so they won’t borrow your office supplies.
- To help avoid feeling overwhelmed whenever you walk into your home office, you must get some organisational systems in place. There are five things that need to be organised daily in a home office: email, voice mail, ideas you think of, verbal requests, and lots of paper to file!
- Inevitably, it will send you off-course, causing you to stray from your intended to-do list. Instead, make it a point to accomplish one project from your list of to-dos for the day. Starting the day with a sense of accomplishment is satisfying and more inspiring to keep up productivity. Establish a time at the beginning and end of each day to check emails. Answer those most important or those you can do quickly and delete all junk mail.
- Just like emails, establish a regular time to check voice messages. Keep a logbook with a pen next to you to record all important phone numbers and instructions given to you regarding work matters. To avoid obvious telephone distractions during the day, try turning off the phone ringer for a few hours of uninterrupted work time each day, allowing your machine to pick up instead.
- Your ideas and business strategies are essential to your home office business. Establish an ‘ideas file or journal’ to toss in any thoughts that you’d like to implement at some point. Review the file at least once a week to begin incorporating them into your business plans.
- Piles of paper are perhaps the biggest source of stress and lack of productivity in any home office. Because we deal with daily distractions from young children, doorbells, laundry, and more at home, it’s just easier to delay dealing with paper and pile it instead. This is precisely what clutter is – delayed decisions! The best way to deal with a pile already on your desk is to carve out ten minutes a day to chip away at the papers. Turn the pile upside down, enabling you to deal with the stack quicker, as the items at the bottom are most likely out of date and easier to purge.
- Requests to do something from family members or even a central business office can prevent you from efficiently working on current projects at home, so you have to weigh the importance of their request to the current task at hand. If it is not an urgent demand, log it into your day planner and plan to accomplish it at a later date. If it is something that requires little thought and can get done in a matter of 20 minutes or less, then you should act on it rather than have it hang in your mind as another distraction.
- Working from your home office gives you the freedom to establish your own filing system, such as colour-coding files, by using the colours of a stoplight. You must stop and act on red file folders for urgent things, yellow files can wait a bit, and green files can go whenever.
Remember that since your office is within your home, you want to keep a sense of serenity and sensibility. Keep your desktop clear, not only to set the stage for productivity and creative thinking but to keep your home looking streamlined and orderly, especially if your office door is in direct line of vision from the home entryway or family room. Place a vase of flowers on your desk to brighten it up, prevent you from stacking papers, and make use of some of the vertical wall space in the room by adding shelves for books and other reference materials you need. You can also consider getting a chocolate bookey or assortment of crackers and different edible platters and keep them decorated and handy while working. That way, you can continue to power through your work without having to interrupt yourself every time you feel like snacking!