Modern communications allows people to do something they’ve never done before: the opportunity to work from the comfort of home. It’s got a whole load of benefits. You’re more comfortable in your own space. You don’t have to factor in how much time and money it takes to get to and from the office. For some jobs, you control how much time you need to spend at work, allowing you to get a better balance between the professional and the personal.
However, to ensure everything is smooth sailing, there are things you need to remember. Details here and there that people don’t always consider, but should be considered when you want to maximize your productivity. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind to make sure that you give yourself the best home office you can.
Get a Good Chair
It’s true in the office, and it’s true at home. Make sure you have a comfortable chair to sit in. If you’re going to be sitting in it for a full working day, you’ll want to avoid the sort of seat where you fidget constantly, trying to find the right position. Take care of yourself and your back; invest in a good office chair for your home office.
Don’t Mix Business with Pleasure
It’s tempting to mix business with pleasure when you work out of a home office. Don’t. Keep the finances and lines of communication between the two distinct. Never mix your own personal funds with the income of your business. Have a personal phone line and a separate number for professional purposes. It keeps the line clear, both for yourself and your clients. In the case of finances, it is also useful in keeping the books clean when tax season rolls along.
Keep Track of Your Finances
Speaking of finances, keep track of them and use a bill tracking system. Setting up a home office is an expensive venture, so take note of any deductibles you might have. This means keeping good records, because things like your equipment, office supplies, to the laptop stand for desk you just bought might be a deductible when tax season comes calling. It might be a good idea to invest in some software that can help you manage your records and file your returns.
Develop a Routine
This may not sound like a big deal, but an “office-like” routine is important. Psychologically speaking, keeping a daily pattern that mimics being in an office helps keep you thinking professionally even at home. This means that not only should you work during “office hours,” but you should develop habits that get your mind in an office-related space. Put together a schedule, even a rudimentary one, and only deviate from it when an emergency arises.
Have Your Own Space
Make sure that your home office is not the same as your living space. Keep it away from personal distractions like your bed, the TV, and the like. The ideal is to have the home office be in a separate room in the house, but any sort of physical division can still work. The distinction helps the mind separate the professional from the personal. When working, close the door to keep distractions out. When you’re done, keep the door to the office closed.
Set boundaries. Without the atmosphere of an office, it’s easy to get wrapped up in distractions. This is especially true if you don’t live alone. Inform people you live with that if you’re in your office space, you do not want to be disturbed or interrupted. This does wonders for productivity.
Get the Proper Lighting
Lighting is essential. When possible, position the home office near a window to cut down on utility bills. Natural lighting also helps keep the mind sharp. If that’s not possible, experiment with your lighting options to find an intensity and brightness that works best for you. By getting the lighting right, you can reduce eye strain as you work, as well as better regulate your mood.
Make It Feel Yours
Since the office space is now something you can control, don’t hesitate; decorate! Choose colors that give you energy, shades and hues that you love. What these colors are will vary. Someone might want the high energy tones of yellows and reds, while others want the chill and relaxation of light blues. Neutral and earthy tones like green can have an effect on mood, too. Pick one you love that fits with your working style, to maximize the effect.
Taxes, Taxes, Taxes
Remember that your tax situation changes when you move to a home office. Check what new deductions or regulations apply, along with any paperwork that needs to be filed. You don’t want to panic when tax season rolls around and you suddenly realize you don’t know what your deductibles are or how much tax you have to pay. Check with your local business council and see what applies to your situation.
Don’t Forget Your Breaks
In an office environment, breaks are part of the routine. Make them part of your home office day too. Go out for lunch. Walk to a nearby shop for coffee. Take a walk around your neighborhood. Don’t chain yourself to your home office the whole day, because the lack of fresh air and new stimuli will grind you down little by little. At that point, your home office just ends up being another confining cubicle and isn’t that what you wanted to avoid in the first place?
Deviate From the Routine
Once in a while, break routine. Even in the comfort of your home, your mind can burn out. We all go a little stir-crazy when the routine sets in and nothing changes, when the days begin to blur together. So whenever you feel burn out starting to edge closer, take a break. Pick up the laptop and go work in a new environment, like a coffee shop or someplace with free wi-fi. A change in scenery can help keep the mind fresh. It might even give you a few new ideas for your work.
Having your own home office can be a game changer. Working in the comfort of your personal space can be a great boon, both professionally and mentally. Just be sure to keep in mind the things we’ve pointed out, so you can maximize the benefits and minimize the setbacks.