Working out of a home office has been something I have done for most of my corporate life so transitioning to my own business and working from home has been an easy move. My current home office space is very compact and cozy, although I have made it inspirational and functional for my needs. It’s a multi-purpose room (i.e. guest room) as well as a home office and yet I run it as a super organised, clutter-free, Start Up Mum headquarters. The space you work from is vital to your daily flow. Try these tactics to set up a home office that gets your mojo flowing:
1. Create a layout that works for you and the space
As these rooms can sometimes be for multi-purpose use, it’s important to create a space that not only suits the needs of the room but also for the way you need to work. Think about what you need at hands reach. If you access certain files often, do you really want them on the other side of the room where you have to get up a thousand times to access them (could be good for your fitness though!)? Also think about desk placement. If you have your back to natural light, you might get too much glare on your computer monitor. You might want to also consider facing the door so none of your little ones can sneak up on you from behind!
2. Use calm colours
You are probably going to be spending a lot of hours in the home office space so you want to make it inviting. It needs to be a space that makes you feel happy – the happier you are the more productive you are likely to be! Use soothing colours to create a tranquil and inspiring space. The colour you use will also determine how the lighting works in the room. Light colours will make the room brighter.
3. Minimise distractions
As a mum we know all about distractions! It’s also common for us to be sharing our home office space with the family as it’s not always practical to set up more than one room as a home office. With multiple people working from the same room, the best way to ensure success in both your business and relationship is to face opposite directions. If you are still being distracted by the noise of your “neighbours”, you could try noise-cancelling headphones with some soothing music – not always practical if you have a baby or small kids though and need to keep an ear out for them.
4. Consider lighting
Lighting will be an important factor in your office space as there may be times you need to work early in the morning or late in the evening to fit around your family’s schedule. Having a variety of light sources will make your space work better for you. Consider a mixture of natural light, downlights or desk lamps. Also consider their placement and the placement of your desk. For example, if you have a pendant light and sit with your back to it you probably won’t get much of the light on the space you are working.
5. Keep a clutter-free space
With all the technology we have today, it’s easier to keep a home office that is almost paper-free. But the paper is often replaced with cables from the gazillion computers, hard drives, printers and chargers we now keep in our home office. It’s not only messy but distracting. If you have the luxury of custom building your space, think about how you can conceal all the wires. For those of you making the most of what you have, there are tools available to tame the wires. I use a Signum cable management rack from Ikea to keep my cables off the floor. I also use little name tags on each of the plugs so if I need to pull one out I know which is the right one.
6. Get organised
Find a organisational system that works for you. This could be a range of different tools like wall calendars, whiteboards, pin boards right through to having the right storage. You will not only be running a business but also managing a family so having one system that works for both will make things easier. I recently discovered Evernote. As someone that is a very visual person, this move to online is big for me and yet having access to my work across my PC, laptop and iPhone is amazing. I also link it with other apps that send me reminders.
7. The right technology
There are some amazing tools on the market right now. Consider how you work to find the right tools for you. You might need the flexibility of a laptop or tablet. One of the best pieces of technology I invested in was a personal cloud. I use a WD My Cloud and it means I can access my files securely from my smartphone, tablet or computer. Plus there are no ongoing fees like other services. Because I do work across multiple devices, I save all my files to the one central place so there is no duplication and it makes it easy to back it all up. I also invested in a printer that does ePrint. I use a HP Officejet Pro and can print from any of my devices using my wifi and also send items from other people’s emails to my printer at home.
8. Mix it up
Just because you have a home office, doesn’t mean you need to work just from it. The luxury of running your own business and working from home is that you can enjoy your space…or even the space of a cafe or local play centre with wifi. Having wifi, laptops and tablets mean you could sit out in the yard while the kids are playing or even with a coffee at the kitchen island if you choose (hey I’m writing this while sitting on the lounge in my PJs!).
HAVE YOUR SAY
Do you enjoy working from home? What are some of the tools and systems you use to make it work for you? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.