Whether you’re thinking about telecommuting to your current job, trying your hand at self-employment, or simply keeping up with stacks of paperwork that seem to be following you around, having a well-equipped home-office can be a real lifesaver. That’s especially true here in Canada, where inclement weather can prevent you from making it into the office on a semi-regular basis.
Before you jump into your work, you need to set up a space that’s perfect for the job. Some men and women can get things done at the kitchen table with the rest of the family moving noisily around them, but most people will be more at ease – and much more productive – using a dedicated home office.
Here’s how to configure yours in a way that will actually make you look forward to getting down to business:
Choose the Right Room
Spare bedrooms often make great home offices, but it’s important to choose one that’s away from noise and distractions. Depending on the kind of work you’ll be doing, you may not need much space, and you can even get away without having much of a view (as lots of people find windows distracting when they are trying to focus). That means the least desirable bedroom can sometimes be the perfect choice for home office.
Invest in the Right Tools
You’ll probably need a computer and a telephone to work from home, of course, but don’t forget about the other “essentials.” A sturdy desk with lots of room to spread out can be a big advantage, and an ergonomic chair can help prevent fatigue and chronic back pain. Over the long run, almost anything you buy that makes it easier for you to concentrate on your work is probably going to pay for itself several times over.
Ideally, your home office would be a place for work only. So, if you can remove distractions like televisions, video games, and kids toys, go ahead and do so. You may also consider using a posted sign or schedule so family members can tell when you’re working and shouldn’t be disturbed. This might take a little bit of practice and discipline on your part at first, but soon everyone will understand to avoid interrupting you while you’re trying to be productive.
One of the easiest ways to make yourself more productive in a home office is to make it feel like a place of business. Decorate your walls with the same kinds of things you would have at any other place of employment (degrees, motivational posters, project boards, etc.) and you might have an easier time keeping your mind on track.
Put Everything in Easy Reach
Psychologists have discovered that the average distraction takes someone away from work for at least five minutes. So, stocking your home office with a refrigerator, coffee maker, and a cachet of office supplies can end up saving you hours a month if it means you don’t have to get up to find something elsewhere. If you can manage to have your home office close to a bathroom, that could be a time-saver as well.
Don’t Forget About Safety and Security
Many office buildings have 24-hour security, complete with cameras, alarm locks, and live guards. You probably won’t have the same in your home, so make sure that any important or sensitive documents are stored in a safe, and that things like file encryption and automatic backups on any important work documents are stored on a home computer.
Often, the best office you’ll ever work in is the one you build for yourself. Why not save time on your commute and get more out of each workday by setting up a space in your home that’s designed to help you get more done?