HOW TO MAKE A HOME OFFICE
- IWB Post
- February 1, 2014
If you are a start-up, micro-business or perhaps a solopreneur, keeping outgoing expenses to a minimum will be no doubt a priority. Before taking on the large expense of renting office space, consider creating an office at home.
Challenge 1: To find Space
Even if you think you don’t have enough room, you’ll be surprised how an office can fit into the most unlikely of spaces – under the stairs, a widow alcove, a hallway, even a cupboard.
First, build up on the walls. You can fit tons of storage there by hanging files, planters full of writing implements, shelves, and whatever else you can think of. With some forethought, you can use these things as decoration, too.
Second, utilize the space under your desk. Most of us need a few drawers and if your desk doesn’t provide them you should procure a filing cabinet to help out. While you need to leave space for your legs, you’ll probably have enough room to fit more than just limbs. At the right height, filing cabinets and drawers can also double as peripheral stands for your printer, scanner, or whatever else.
Third, most of us have little problem producing pyramid-sized heaps of trash. Trouble is, far too often we hope to squeeze those mountains into a thimble-like waste container. If your office functions best when things are reasonably tidy — and that’s the gig for most of us — spend a few extra bucks to “super-size” a wastebasket to adequately handle whatever junk happens to be around.
Challenge 2: Make Your Space Enjoyable
Choose the right color for you:
Red – energy and motivation
Dark Blue – focused thinking, concentration
Light Blue – creativity
Turquoise – communication, self-expression
Yellow – optimism, happiness
Orange – fun, sociable and joyful
Green – calming balance
When applying your colours to your office think about:
- creating a colour and design scheme that creates the right mood, to support what you need in order to get your work done
- think about the combination of colours that will create this mood. If you feel there are some colours you only need a hint of, then you can always use them in accessories, stationery, or flowers, so you can swap them out when you feel you need a change in mood.
- decide on the all-important placement of these colours – will they be in your line of sight, or behind you. This will make a huge impact on how you feel in the space.
- correct colour proportions – getting this right is key, otherwise you could end up feeling the negative effects of that colour. For example if you paint every wall in red because you need motivating, you could end up feeling overwhelmed, agitated and annoyed.
Secondly, the best location for your desk is near a large window, giving you the benefits of natural light, fresh air and a view. If window is not available, make sure to have sufficient light. Thirdly, use re-configurable furnishings. This means leaving yourself options to rearrange things and move around as you work. A rolling chair and multiple work surfaces will give you the freedom to switch positions and manage tasks more efficiently. Finally, think about what you like! And use those things to create the environment.
Challenge 3: Manage Cables Like a Pro
- Identify Everything: You want to identify cables quickly so you can connect them, disconnect them, and move them without too much trouble. You only need a tag of some kind. That can be ribbon, an actual label, or anything that clearly defines one cable from another.
- Avoid Tangles: You want to route your cables so that they have a good, clear path from their starting point to their ending point. If you don’t, cords will get mixed up and you’ll have a tangled mess on your hands. This will undermine your effort to identify each cable and waste a bunch of your time. Make sure to route your cables on their own, unique path or carefully combine related cables together if that makes sense in your workspace.
- Overestimate Length: You can always make a cable shorter but you can’t lengthen it (without a separate extension cable, and you don’t want to resort to that if you don’t have to because it can reduce effectiveness and come unplugged easily). If you only need a six foot cable, consider getting a 10 foot one anyway. A clever shortening technique will prevent it from taking up too much space and allow you to make it longer if you need to in the future.
Challenge 4: Make Your Space Productive
- DECLUTTER: Take an inventory of your home office. How much of the contents of your space are used continually? How much of it has been sitting for weeks, months… maybe years?! Before moving on to any other step, declutter. Determine what office supplies you need, for all the others give away!
- CLEAN: This tip is accurate for any room or space you are in. When your environment is clean, so is your mind to be creative and productive. If you have trash, old newspapers, and 100 magazine subscriptions cluttering your desk, clean it up!
- PRIORITIZE: Figure out what items in your office are used for your activity in the office. If a television is in your office, but you look at it, more than working than it’s time to remove it. Kid’s toys and the dog’s brush shouldn’t be in your office space. When you start using the space for more than its intended use, you will do that activity before you work.
- ORGANIZE: Now that you’ve successfully done the first few tips, it’s time to organize your remaining space. Divide your room into zones. 1 – Storage: Items that can go in a closet, such as office supplies, and rarely used reference materials. 2 – Desk Items: Only the bare necessities, pens/pencils, computer, stapler and tape. Everything else needs a home inside of a desk drawer to prevent a cluttered desk. 3 – Display: For books, and magazines use organizers that go on a bookshelf. These organizers can group them together, and be reached in a moment. A few, remember just few pictures and mementos can be used to personalize your space.
PLAN FOR DISTRACTIONS:
When you’re kids are very young (younger than 5, say), you’re pretty much at their mercy if you’re home alone with them. They don’t really understand the difference between Mom simply being home and working at home. Structure your schedule mostly around them, so a lot of work will be done during naps, evenings, weekends. Find “mother’s helper”—a kid – your niece or nephew who likes babysitting, they can make your kid busy while enjoying games themselves. Once the kids start school, things get a lot easier. You can schedule a lot of your work during the school day, take the afternoons off to be with them, and then get some more work done in the evenings when necessary. Also teach your kids notice signs at the entry to your office and obey to them like “Busy”, ‘”In the meeting”. Teach your kids to write message to you if they are old enough instead of visiting your home office. It will save your time, because visits often turn into conversations.
Challenge 5: Allow yourself little more than in an ordinary office.
If you like listening to music while you work by all means turn it up! This is also helpful if the kids are being noisy and you need to get some work done. Let the pets in! It will put you in an amazing mood when your puppy or cat is laying at our feet. We’re relaxed and can focus on our work in a good mood. In the end, remember, at your home you’re your own boss and you make up the rules! Particularly when it comes to knowing yourself and what makes you work at your best so you can get out of there sooner with your work done and go enjoy the lovelier things in life.
To conclude, be careful not to “live” in your home office. Restrict your work from the personal life, and stay strict with it.