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Home Office Working – Can It Work For You?

One of my mini goals when thinking about this business was always to have my own office space eventually.  It is even on my vision board above my desk at home as a goal to focus on.  However, as I am running a growing business, separate premises is not necessary yet.  In order to keep costs to a minimum, many business owners consider creating a home office.  When I started to work at home, people asked how I manage to work efficiently.  It’s easy to get distracted by household chores and can be tough to motivate yourself in a relaxed environment. Being productive at home can be difficult, so here are some ideas to help you get the most out of your day.

Get into the mindset of being at work

If you are employed, you have someone else dictate to you your location and start time.  So you go through the motions of getting ready for work and set out for your day.  If you’re working for yourself, you don’t have this instruction from anybody, which can be slightly daunting. However, you can still do your morning routine and get ready for work.  So why not put on your makeup and dress smartly for the office if that’s what you would do?  I remember an ex-colleague told me that she would go for a walk around her neighbourhood for ten minutes or so, as a way of creating a false commute.  This would help her to get into that mindframe of going to the office.

Eliminate distractions

A lot of people can be distracted by things in their own home, for example, television programmes, household tasks that you know need to be done, family, or even the open packet of biscuits that you know are in the kitchen! OK, maybe the packet of biscuits is something that distracts just me! Anyway, these distractions need to be dealt with.  You are at work.  If you were employed at a plush city centre office somewhere, then you wouldn’t be able to do that household task, or watch that programme. So you need to treat it your home office as such.

If there are people you live with or contact you and they are a distraction for you, you need to be honest with them and tell them that you need to work.  It can be easy for others to assume that since you are at home, you can be contacted in the middle of the working day.  It may be an idea to specify working hours to your family and friends.  Also, if you have a separate work phone, put your personal one on silent and ignore it in the same way you would if you were employed.  

There are lots of ways to eliminate distractions, but you can only do this once you have identified what they are for you.

As strange as it may sound, my main distraction is silence.  I cannot work in silence and have found this to be the case even back to my school days.  So for me, I have some quiet music on, or a podcast to listen to whilst I work.  This helps me focus on my tasks.

Define your workspace

It is important to have your own part of the house where you are at work.  If you have a spare room or office, that’s perfect.  However, if you don’t have that, you can have a small desk in your bedroom or maybe use the dining room table.  I’ve seen some amazing sheds that have been set up as a home office or creative spaces, they really are incredible!  The point is, you need to have somewhere that is designated for you to work.  Again, this defined space helps with the mindset for some people. Also this means that family members in your house can know that when you are there, you are working and don’t wish to be disturbed.

Setting up your Home Office

Dress it up

If you are lucky enough to have a separate office or desk, why not decorate it a bit? A colourful plant can really brighten up your workspace.  Or maybe a photograph of your family and friends in a frame?  Maybe you would prefer an inspirational quote? A great idea I was given was my vision board, with photos of things you want to achieve from your business.  This could be a new car, or some home improvements or even a luxury holiday.  The goals on your vision board can be as big or as small as you like.  It’s really whatever will motivate you and inspire you to keep going when working in your home office.

For me, I love stationery, to a point of it being a slight obsession of mine.  So when I am working on a project, it helps to have a separate project book for this. Also, some good quality pens, bright highlighters and automatic pencils that I don’t have to sharpen.  These things really make me feel like I am at work at my home office.  I couldn’t work as well if I had a scrap piece of paper and a ballpoint pen with a half-chewed lid.

Have a break!

Many business owners know that the regular 9-5 is a distant memory when moving from employment to working for yourself.  However, everyone needs a break, especially when using screens.  It is recommended that you take a ten minute break for every hour you spend in front of your computer screen.  So take that break, get a hot drink, go for a bathroom break, but get away from the screen to give your eyes and brain a rest.

Try to avoid eating a quick snack at the desk and instead take a lunch break, even if it is only twenty minutes.  Although you are busy working, that twenty minutes you think you have saved by eating and working simultaneously may be eliminated by your sluggish fatigue later on in the afternoon, so it is important to give your mind and your eyes a rest.

Get out and about!

You don’t always need to be in your home office.  Sometimes it is refreshing to get out of the house and change your scenery.  There are lots of places you can take your laptop and work.  Why not try a nearby coffee shop or country pub with WiFi? Or for somewhere a little quieter, you can try your local library.  Check to see if there are any informal co-working events where local businesses can work together. This can be an excellent networking opportunity, as working from home can feel a little isolated.

These are just some ideas that may help when working at home.  If you have any ideas or tips for working at home, please let me know in the comments below.  I’d love to see some photos of your home office if you have one, please send me a photo!

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