Working from home can be convenient and frustrating at the same time. It can be nice to avoid a commute to work, but working from home comes with its own set of challenges. After all, not everyone has a spare room and art tables just waiting to be turned into an office. Especially when you have a family, it can be tough to pack in a full work day without the distractions of home life. Here are some ideas to help you be more productive and efficient as you work from a home office.
Choose an Isolated Area
Having a separate room dedicated as your home office is an ideal setup. Try to pick a room with a door to keep distractions like children or pets at bay. Because it can be easier to work in a quiet space, some people choose to work in a basement or other more private area. This is also a helpful way to reduce background noise if you need to talk on the phone.
Keep Furnishings To a Minimum
Unless you host client meetings in your home office, you don’t need to fully furnish it. In fact, the more inviting you make your office, the more likely family members will want to spend time in it. By keeping the furniture limited to simple art tables and an office chair, you can prevent the space from being appealing the way it would be if you added a leather recliner, bean bag chair or big screen television.
Get Creative With Storage
In many cases, home office space is limited. That means making the most of your area and getting creative with where you store things. For example, instead of trying to fit a bulky desk into a tight room, use an art desk. Smaller and easier to move around, many include organizers and just about all of them are supported by slim legs which leaves room for file boxes or storage bins. Keeping things in containers with lids can protect them if you or the kids accidentally spill a drink or if the dog gets loose in your office.
Make Sure There is Adequate Lighting
No one works better in the dark. If at all possible, choose a space for your home office with lots of natural light. When that’s not an option, try to get a combination of general overhead light and more direct light for your work area. Some art desks include a lamp or have thin edges you can easily clamp a lamp onto to avoid taking up valuable desk space. Lighting can also help keep you awake if you’ve been up at night with a baby or a toddler who is potty training.
Have Necessary Equipment Handy
When you’re constantly having to leave your home office to get supplies or stretch, odds are good you’ll get stopped by someone or distracted by something along the way. Coming out of your office makes you fair game for questions from kids or spouses. Make sure you have what you need for your project before starting. This can include everything from highlighters and post-it notes to a fast internet connection and reliable computer.
Since you most likely won’t have an office assistant, you will have to take care of the record-keeping, paying invoices and tracking business expenses by yourself. Having a standardized system in place and setting aside time to perform these types of tasks can prevent you from drowning in a sea of paperwork or getting past due notices from vendors. If kids accidentally invade your space, it can also save you time and stress if your paperwork is neatly filed away instead of lying on your desk for them to knock off or push around.
Create a Schedule
Even though it’s nice to have the flexibility working from home can provide, establishing regular office hours can help you be more productive. It allows you to get into a routine and keeps your availability fairly standard for clients. If your kids are in school, it can be helpful to match your office hours to their school day as much as possible to reduce distractions.
Another perk of working from home is having the ability to dress more functionally. You can wear clothes that are appropriate for client meetings but still casual enough to cook lunch or change diapers in. You can work more efficiently if you’re not concerned about wrinkling your suit or getting spaghetti sauce on your dress.
Don’t Accept Interruptions
Designate a separate phone and email address for work, and then ignore personal calls or communication as much as possible during office hours. Once friends and family think you’re available to talk at any time, you can end up spending unplanned hours on personal conversations instead of reaching out to prospective clients.
You’d be surprised what can collect in a home office in a short period of time. From paperwork or empty bags of potato chips to dog fur or kids gym socks, a small space can get dirty quickly. Setting aside about an hour a week can give you time to clean up trash, dust, sweep the floor or generally keep your office in shape.
Being both a working professional and a stay-at-home parent can be incredibly challenging. Make the job a bit easier on yourself by increasing your efficiency. Use multi-functional tools like art tables with organizers and develop a strategy for scheduling your time to help enhance your productivity.
Salman Zafar is an acclaimed blogger, editor, publisher and digital marketer. He is the founder of Blogging Hub, a digital publishing portal with wide following across the world.