Working from home, whether you’re telecommuting for your company or striking it out on your own as a freelancer or business owner, definitely has its advantages. Aside from not having your boss breathing down your neck every hour, you can also save a lot of time and have a smaller over-all carbon footprint since you no longer have to commute. Even telecommuting part-time has shown many benefits for the worker and for the reduction of traffic over-all. Yes, working at home can be a boon. However, there are some downsides as well. Working from home can prove to be distracting. Many people who are based at home have a hard time separating their home and work life, and end up being less productive than they are at the office. One way many people increase their productivity when they work at home is by having their own home office. Many home-based workers can attest that having a home office is much better than working at the dining table (or worse, in bed) and that they can actually work better without the distractions. If you’re looking to set up your own home office, there are a few basics you should know.
Set-up Your Own Space
One important reason you should have your own home office is so you can separate your home life from your work life. Often, many home-based workers get burned out easily because they let their work take over their entire lives, and they have a hard time relaxing because they’re always in front of the computer answering emails. So, if possible, try to set aside a spare bedroom or your garage as a home office. That way, you can physically separate yourself from your home life and work more efficiently and vice versa too. If you don’t have any room to spare, you can set aside a quiet corner of the living room or bedroom. And, more important, tell people at home that when you’re at “the office” that you can’t be disturbed unless you’re taking a break. Explain to them that you really need to work this time and you should be treated as if you are not even at home. Some people find it useful to only be contacted by family members or friends via phone or email (as if they really were not at home) instead of having them knock on the door or drop by unexpectedly.
Arranging Your Home Office
One thing you can do to help yourself is to arrange your home office just like any office. So, make sure you get your own home office furniture that will be conducive to working. You’ll need some home office furniture basics, like a good desk and an ergonomic chair. These are perhaps the most important parts of your home office because you’ll be spending a lot of time here and if you get a bad chair or a table that’s the wrong height, you can get backaches and neck aches. You can also consider standing tables, which are fast becoming a popular option for both home and office workers. Studies have shown that sitting for hours at a time can cause various diseases.
Aside from a table and chair, you’ll have to consider other additional home office furniture. For example, if you have a lot of files and papers, then you’ll have to buy a file cabinet. You can choose from a variety of cabinets like wall cabinets or stand-up cabinets and it really depends on your preference and space availability. You may also want some specialty home office furniture. For example, if you’re an architect or engineer, you may want your own drafting table. If you entertain a lot of guests and clients, you may want a separate area for that and add a small conference table and chairs. Think about the things you’ll need for your home office and purchase your home office furniture accordingly.
Also, don’t forget the equipment you’ll need. You may want to invest in a few things, like a faster Internet connection, fax machine, or whatever else gadget you need to help you work faster and smarter. Many office equipment like teleconferencing phones, projectors, flat screen monitors, and other home office furniture are available today from a variety of sellers online at a reasonable price. For example, if a faster printer or scanner can help you work more, it may be worth the investment.
Other Productivity Tips
Aside from having the right home office arrangement, there are other things you can do to ensure you remain productive while working at home. For many people, keeping a schedule is a great way to stay focused. Aside from keeping a Monday to Friday schedule, your daily schedule is just as important. As soon as you wake up in the morning, take a shower, dress in different clothes (not your PJs!), have your breakfast and coffee, and sit down to work. You may want to keep a regular 9 to 12, lunch break and 1 to 5 schedules, but you should take advantage of your freedom as well. You may experience busy days and lighters days, so why not go out for some fresh air if you’re not really that busy? Or perhaps if you’re stuck on a project or can’t find a solution to a problem, doing something different will help you out. Some people even workout on their treadmills to help them brainstorm new ideas. Of course, avoid distractions like TV or the Internet if you can help it. Finally, at the end of your workday, turn off the computer, shut the door behind you, and leave your work for tomorrow. However, you may want to adjust this schedule depending on the situation – after all, that is your prerogative as someone who works from home.
There are many ways people who work at home stay productive, and the important thing to remember is that there’s no single correct way to do it. It’s difficult to start at first, but eventually, you’ll find what’s right for you.