Working from home can be great, but it can also cause your productivity to take a major hit.
Home is where all of your stuff is, so it’s easy to become distracted by the TV across the room or the countless unfinished projects that you have lying around. This is where a home office comes in handy; you’ve got a space set aside specifically for work, and since you get to set it up you can do your best to control how accessible your household distractions are.
There’s more to setting up a new home office than just sticking a laptop on the kitchen table, though. To really get the most out of a home office, keep the following in mind while you’re getting everything set up.
Pick the Right Spot for Your Home Office
When it comes to your home office, location is very important.
Because there are so many distractions around the home, you need to set up your office in an area where you’re least likely to encounter them. This may be a room that’s been used for storage in the past, or it could be a portion of a larger room in the back of the house. Some people even use sheds or other portable buildings as a “shedquarters”-style home office. Just make sure that you choose a spot with enough room for you to work in comfortably without too many distractions or interruptions.
One thing that’s important to keep in mind when choosing a home office location is that you ideally need to make sure that the space will only be used as an office. While it’s certainly possible to let the space do double duty, you’ll have a much harder time staying organized if your office space is used for other purposes as well. You may also miss out on tax breaks that come from having a home office.
Speaking of tax breaks, be sure to take measurements of your home office space once you’ve decided where it will be.
This process is easiest early in the process of setting up your office because you won’t have furniture or other items in your way. The size of your home office (in square feet) can be used to determine how much of a tax break you can get from having an office space in your home. Home office deductions have been streamlined a bit over the years to make them simpler to use, so be sure to consult a tax professional for how to best take advantage of your home office space.
That’s not to say that taxes are the only reason for taking measurements, of course; you’ll also find measurements of your home office very useful when it comes to laying out your office. Available wall space can be at a premium in many office layouts, so taking measurements first thing lets you start planning before you move a single item in.
Is your home office going to be in a room of its own or an outdoor building? Great, you’re good to go. If it’s not, however, you need to establish some boundaries.
Depending on your budget, you might use stand-up partitions, custom-built half walls or even curtains to physically separate your office space from the rest of the house. If you don’t want to set up a physical separation like this, you can also arrange tables, desks or other furniture in such a way that they effectively block off your office space.
While you can go with a much more open office design that blends into the surrounding space, there’s something to be said for having a physical barrier to separate your office from the rest of your house.
Necessities First and Foremost
Now that you know where your office will be and have set up the physical space as best you can, it’s time to start moving things in.
Start with the essentials: Your desk, your computer, your printer and anything else that’s vital to your business. This lets you arrange your most important items first so that they’re right where you need them. Once you’ve got the necessities set up, you can then start moving in other items that are important to your business but not absolutely vital to have in your office.
Make It Your Own
Because your office is in your home, sometimes it’s easy to forget that it’s still a space that can be personalized.
You’ve got everything you need in your office space and it’s all organized, so take a few moments to add some personal flavor to the space. You’ll be surprised at how much of a difference decorations, photos and other mementos can make. It helps to lessen the urge to leave the office, and can greatly improve morale when you’re trying to get some work done. Just don’t overdo it… you don’t want to bring distractions into the office area you’ve so carefully set up.
A Work Environment
Once everything is set up, make sure that everyone knows that you’re not to be disturbed when you’re at work in your home office.
It’s still a work environment, after all. Establish “work hours” as needed, and be sure to stay in the office and on task during those hours. You don’t have to go crazy here and not allow important interruptions, but if you don’t establish some sort of rules regarding your work then you’ll be that much more likely to give in to distraction.