Creating a Home Office: How to successfully work from home
March 17, 2020
As we all know, we are in a place right now where there are many unknowns. Each day brings us news of changes and updates. Many people are finding that they will be working from the safety of their own homes. I hope that I can provide a few helpful tips to creating a home office to successfully work from home will come in handy.
Creating a Home Office
Not everyone has a dedicated home office to work from. For my family situation, I am fortunate to have a dedicated space where I work. Now that the Mr. is home and working, we are needing to figure out where he will work. If you are in a position where there is not a dedicated space, let’s start with the first step.
Needs vs Wants
The first step in creating a home office space is to determine what your needs are.
Will this strictly be a space for work (paying job) or will it also be used for managing the home/bills/etc?
When it comes to needs vs wants, it will be important to know what you must have for your office. Do you have to have:
As you know, I’m a serious list person. I’ve created this downloadable list to help you plan.
Home Office Space Options
Once you determine what your ‘essential needs’ are, your ‘occasional needs’ and your ‘once in awhile needs’ are, you can then look at your home and determine where you will have your work space. Here are a few areas that may work for you.
Perhaps the best space to put an office is in a closet. There are many benefits of creating an office space in a closet.
If you keep the doors on, you can close the doors when not in use. No one would ever know you have a home office.
There is typically wonderful vertical space in a closet. Use it to your advantage!
There are many ways to organize a small space. The Crazy Craft Lady has many great ideas that she used to create this space.
While I am not a huge fan of having an office space in a bedroom, this may be the only option for you. If so, there are ways to create a dedicated space where you can seperate the sanctuary of sleep with work.
Quite honestly, the key components to a bedroom office would be to have:
a desk or flat surface
close proximity to a power outlet
a light source
If having a home office in your bedroom is necessary, I would like to encourage you of the following Feng Shui tips:
Position yourself in the command position. If you can not achieve this, use a mirror to achieve a reflection outward.
Clear off the clutter at the end of your work day.
Be mindful of the quality of air and the quality of light that your bedroom office provides.
We are currently in this situation where the Mr. is using our kitchen table as his desk area. While it is not ideal, this is our situation and we are embracing it.
Whatever the case may be, setting up your home office should revolve around your needs. Once you have your needs in place, your space in place, then it’s time to figure out how to be the most productive in a home office.
Of course, I do have a few little ‘rules’ for this area (and I do believe rules or whatever you want to call them are important).
When it’s time to make dinner, this kitchen table office needs to shut down. This is anywhere between 5:00 and 5:30 pm.
The Mr. can still work, but his crap needs to be off the table. For the last couple of days, he has ended his day working off his phone (and he has ended his day closer to 6-6:30 pm).
There can not be crap all over the place. As you may be able to see, the Mr. is a doodler. There is always paper and pens laying around. At the ‘end of the day’, all of this is stacked in a nice, neat pile and tucked away.
Home Office Productivity
Oh….it’s so easy to get distracted when you have a home office. There’s laundry, there’s dishes to do, there’s a TV…and this list goes on. Here are my own personal tips to be productive.
Plan your day with intention
When you don’t plan your day it can easily get away on you! At the beginning of the workday, or even better yet – the night before – decide what needs to get done and allocate time in the day for those tasks. Yes, if you need to create a list, then do it!
Block out Distractions
It’s so easy to get distracted with everything that is going on in today’s world. When you create a home office, it is really important to do what it takes to block out distractions.
Turn off any social media notifications that have nothing to do with your work.
Keep the TV off during your work time.
Take breaks throughout the day to give your mind and body a break. I have my iWatch that lets me know when I should be standing and when I should be drinking water. It sounds crazy as I should be doing this naturally, but when I start to work, I tend to plow through things to get done. For me, that is not a healthy way.
Respond to emails at set times (if you can). I typically look at emails at lunch time and close to the end of my work day.
Create a new structure for your home office day
For now, going out for lunch or for a quick coffee is not happening. That shouldn’t mean you don’t take scheduled breaks. In my old life as a teacher, I knew that kids thrived on structure. As an adult, I find that I continue to thrive on structure too. While I don’t feel the need to write down what my day will look like, if you are new to working at home, I’ve created another downloadable template to help you create your own home office structure.
Part of this structure can be ensuring you are also healthy in your space. My friend, Tim Kessler, with InHabit Workplace Wellness has some great ideas!
Dress for work
Oh my…this was the first thing I mentioned to the Mr. when I found out he would be working from home. I even sent him this:
I am a HUGE believer in dressing for work. Having a home office doesn’t mean sweat pants or yoga pants. For me, it is mentally preparing me to ‘work’. Would I go see clients in yoga pants? No. Would the Mr. go to his office in sweat pants? No. Mentally preparing yourself to be productive in a home office is key if you wish to be productive.
While some people think it’s great to have a home office and run your own business, there are so many challenges that come along with this great privilege. I am constantly ensuring that I have work/home boundaries. It’s easy to get caught up working on deadlines well into the evening. It’s easy to work right through lunch.
I hope that you will find some of these tips helpful for you. Wishing you all