How to make your home office a productive and glorious place to work
I just renovated part of my home office this past weekend. It is the part of my office that I used to basically ignore. This part of my office sits behind me while I typically face my computer most of the day.
However, these past few months, the space that is behind me has somehow been placed front and centre. It now holds a similar amount of importance as when people walk into the front door of my home.
Because of all the video-conferencing I find myself doing these days. Now, not only do I have to be dressed and looking half-decent when I take a call, I realize that the space behind me should be a space I’m comfortable with showing to the world as well.
Until last weekend, the desk behind my head was filled with a lot of stuff. Stuff that I didn’t know what to do with: the kids’ school assignments, Christmas cards, school photos, magazines I hadn’t finished reading, half-started projects… It was my craft table that frankly, I hardly ever use any more. It’s more there for the kids when they have something they need to make for school.
But yet, instead of tucked away in a corner of my basement where most craft tables are, it was now front and centre during my video meetings.
So last weekend I just bit the bullet. I pulled the shelving down, got rid of a lot of craft supplies, and cleared out the mess that had been greeting the virtual visitors to my office. A coat of paint and a trip to Winners and the space has been transformed. And I love it!
Now, when I walk into my office, instead of seeing all kinds of unfinished business, I am greeted by a warm and inviting space that beckons me to create. There is now SPACE – not only in my office but also in my brain for new ideas to percolate and take root. It’s bright and glorious and inviting now, and I love it!
Which got me to thinking…
Why hadn’t I done this sooner? If clearing out unnecessary clutter creates physical and virtual space, why aren’t I on top of this? It is so important for those of us who run home-based businesses to not only function but fly as we create new products and serve our clients from the best possible place.
Here are my TOP 5 TIPS on creating a home office that you’ll love to work from:
- Dedicated Space
Having a space dedicated to your work in your home will increase your efficiency tenfold.
Can you just show up, turn on your computer and get to work? Or do you need to clear space, step over laundry, clean away dirty dishes and kick the cat out of your seat? The more that is in the way of you getting down to work, the less work you will get done and the more reluctant you will be to get started.
- Limited Distractions
Take a look around your workspace. What kind of distractions are there?
One graphic designer who used to work for me was notoriously late with his deadlines. It drove me crazy. He would blame it on Oprah. He was just so pulled by whatever was on TV at the moment that he could not fulfill on his obligations in a timely manner. It should come as no surprise that we don’t work together anymore.
What distractions do you see? The more you can eliminate from your space, the better.
- Have Child Care
OK, I’m going to say it. Many people who have chosen to launch a home-based business do so, so they can juggle different things that are going on in their lives – raising children included. I am one of those people. That’s why I started my first consulting business 16 years ago – to help create more control over my time.
However, I did not get rid of my childcare. Yes, there were times that I would work when my young children were playing nearby – not without incident, unfortunately (shall I digress and tell you about the time my 20-month-old decided to leave the house while I was madly working to a deadline and I – oops – didn’t notice? Not good.)
The point is, you need dedicated time devoted to your business, working from home or no.
- Know Your Best Space
What kind of space do you most like to work in? Do you prefer darkness and loud music? Or bright, natural light and quiet? Do you like the bustle of a co-working space with shared services and people to talk to, or perhaps the pleasant hum of the espresso machine in the coffee shop you frequent?
Knowing what you prefer and where you are most productive will help you design your space.
For example, we bought our current home because it had space for two home offices. (My husband and I had discovered that sharing a home office did not work for us.) We looked at the home because of one of the lovely, daylit office spaces it boasted with even a door to the outside. One look at it and I knew I would love to spend time in this room.
My husband? He headed straight to the basement where he could create a bigger space with no light and room for a subwoofer behind his computer. Yup. Different needs. Definitely.
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- Design a Space You Love to Work in
This last tip is the one I have only fully leaned into recently. How do you create a space that you long to be in and that you can call your own? Where do you do your best work? Where are you most creative? What do you like to have around you so that you can deliver to your clients in the best possible way?
After I recently beautified and decluttered my home office, I brought my youngest upstairs to see the finished product. I love the little ‘gasp’ that my 12-year-old let out when she saw it. She smiled and said, “It’s sooo pretty!!” (as opposed to my husband who said, “Do you really need these dust collectors?”)
See? Different needs. I actually find my 12-year-old loves the space, as well, and we often share it as she works on a project or does homework and I am doing my thing. It’s bright and it’s inviting and it makes me happy. All things I want to feel when I’m working.
How about you? Try answering these five questions when you design – or revamp – your home office space:
- What do I need in my workspace?
- When do I do my best work?
- Where do I feel the most creative/productive in my work?
- What would be a “nice to have” in my workspace?
- On a scale of one to 10, how much do I enjoy my current workspace? What is one thing I could do to move that number up a notch?
And voila! Have fun designing and creating an office space that fits your needs best. After all, it is said that we spend 30 percent of our lives at work. We might as well be enjoying it!
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