There you are at work. Settled on your den sofa banging away at your laptop while wearing your pajamas and a worn out college t-shirt. You are feeling alone because let’s face it, you are alone. It’s one of those “there is no point to getting dressed” days. It’s also a day you feel less like getting things done.
The fact of the matter is you are not alone. You are in good company. According to the American Time Use Survey, 38 percent of people in management, business, and financial operations and 35 percent of people in professional and related occupations did some or all of their work from home. That’s a lot of folks.
It also reflects a lot of productivity – or in some cases, not quite so much productivity. Working from home can be a terrific perk especially if you really embrace it, move off the couch and create a work environment to build success.
Build a Business Environment
Early on, the occasional work-from-home day could be handled at the kitchen table or on that couch in the den. As more and more companies accept home work environments, you may find yourself at home often. Or, you may run a home based business or be a solopreneur – a one-man band so to speak.
Building a great spot to work in becomes a necessity. It doesn’t matter if you are in a one-bedroom apartment or a four-bedroom house. It is possible to find a niche and call it your own.
Pick a Spot- Not everyone has a spare room to turn into an office. If you do, that’s great! If you do not, then you have to get creative. Your spot should be a place you can leave out your work gear. It’s annoying to set up the kitchen table to work and then dismantle it over and over. Find a corner you can call your own.
Get a Work Surface- A laptop is great on the lap in the short term only. Get a desk, table or work surface where you can spread out paperwork and your computer.
Find Privacy- Blocking off your work area not only helps you focus but hides your work from family and visitors. You could use some folding screens or you can arrange furniture to achieve privacy. Move a bookcase or entertainment unit away from the wall so it becomes a “wall” between your office area and living space. The other advantage is when you are off-duty, you don’t have to look at and worry over your work.
Get Comfortable- Moving off the couch doesn’t mean you have to sit in a hard chair. Get a great adjustable office chair. Put a cushy rug under your feet. If you have roommates or family in the house when you need to work, buy some earphones. Make sure you have proper lighting.
Stack Up Organization
Stack up organization not papers! Now that you have a dedicated work surface, don’t let yourself get into a logjam of paperwork. Build organization into your office area.
Go Under- Either choose a desk with file drawers or tuck a two-drawer file cabinet under your table. Even if you want to be a “paperless” office and scan everything, there will be some things you must store.
Go Vertical- Take advantage of space over your desk with floating shelves on the wall to hold manuals and supplies. Instead of stacking papers, use a vertical desktop file with file folder dividers to hold work in progress.
Group Like Items- Put items together that are used together, such as everything you need to wrap and ship a package or all your spare parts.
Think Long Term- Plan in long –term storage. Don’t just make do. If you are going to always have product samples, get some shelves. If you are going to have rolls of blueprints, get an upright holder for them. Whatever your business does that is permanent, than make a permanent storage decision.
You’ll find it is much easier to work from home when you have an actual “office” to go to even if your office is just a well-organized corner. When you can leave work lying out and return to it the next day plus have everything you need at your fingertips, you’ll get so much more done.
Post Deadlines- Use a white board to post upcoming deadlines or project steps. The more it is front and center, the better you’ll function.
Use Technology- Use apps on your phone and computer to remind you of meetings, conference calls and project deadlines.
Schedule Cleanup- Block out time every week or every other week on your calendar to devote to putting things away and staying organized. If you wait until you get around to it, you won’t ever get around to it.
Stock Up- Keep extra quantities of supplies you need like printers’ ink or mailing cartons on hand so you don’t have to run out when you run out.
Use a To-Do List- You drain a lot of energy by mentally going over all you have to do. Keep a running to-do list. Each morning do the most important thing of the day first.
Watch the Time- Take advantage of working from home by making the best use of time. Focus on doing big projects during your most productive time of the day.
Creating a great home working environment is a gift you can give yourself that will pay off when you can do great work and be more productive. In other words, it really is a gift that keeps on giving.