You, may have decided that working from a home office is the way to go. Although the decision to set up an office at home was an excellent and convenient step, you've probably learned quickly that while these freedoms are nice, they can also make it harder to be productive and complete each day’s goals. Distractions abound and it becomes easy to put off those particularly annoying tasks until “tomorrow.”
Combining work with home life is a never-ending battle between business and family obligations. One of the ways to balance this ongoing issue is to create a home office. Here, you can have a place to focus on business while being close to your family. The key to optimizing this strategy is organization and planning.
Organization comes in many forms. To begin with, you need to have the proper tools at your disposal. While this probably sounds simple, lack of organization can be a death knell to your business. It doesn't have to be. With the proper planning and execution; your home office can exceed your expectations!
To help you get started, here are four tips to organize your home office:
You need some basics including a dedicated desk area for just you, that won't be used by other family members. You will also need room for your laptop or your own dedicated desktop computer, separate from the one the kids use. To help organize, pick up some of the basic necessities, without letting your office area become too crowded:
Get rid of the clutter and leave plenty of room to spread out your files and work.
You're a parent as well, so be sure to have a place your kids can drop permission slips and other school related material in for your review. Sound impersonal? It isn't – and in one quick glance, you'll know what school items need your attention. The other, of course, is for your business, so you have a spot to put essential paperwork until you have a chance to file it.
This is so essential, I cannot stress it enough. You absolutely need this so you can easily view both personal and business functions. From the meeting with your child's teacher to the meeting with that new client, all in one place, easy for you to see. Not only helpful, but vital, this will completely erase the chance of you double scheduling yourself. Nothing is worse than having to choose between your children and an important business meeting. The solution is simple: one or more dry erase boards and/or a bulletin board.
Your kids are important. Part of the reason you're at home is so you are accessible to them. That being said, however, they also need to understand you're working. Set limitations with them so they know how to approach you in non-emergency circumstances. If you're in the middle of a conference call in which you cannot be interrupted, let them know this. You can even designate a signal – it can be as simple as a closed door, or a bandanna on the doorknob – that lets them know you can't be interrupted unless it is an emergency. Explain to them what an emergency means to you, because remember – to a child, if they want your attention, it's always an emergency!
These tips are just the beginning steps you can take to get your home office setup organized and running smoothly. As you spend more time working from home, you'll discover what is successful for you and what isn't. An office at home can truly bridge the gap between career and family – if done properly and with the correct expectations in place. It will allow you to remain the force in your family you need to be, as well as continuing to move your career in the direction you want.