Depending on your home office situation, working from home can be a manifestation of freedom or a recipe for domestic distraction. Do you have a proper desk, or are you confined to the chaise lounge all day? Are you more productive or less productive without a boss or cubicle mate? Is there a door – physical or metaphorical – between you and your pets, kids, chores and home life? Do you have the tools you need at hand not just to get things done, but to help your business thrive?
Unsurprisingly, it can take a little work to get work done if you don’t have a traditional office environment setup. For the millions of Americans who work from home, including those who work for themselves, a functional, comfortable space can be the difference between “good enough” and “better than imaginable.”
Here are six tips on how to make your home office work for you:
1. Feng shui leads the way
Having a space designated for work first and foremost is key to diving into the day’s deliverables with professional enthusiasm. The farther this space is from where you sleep, the better, and feng shui experts recommend putting function first to limit clutter and maximize productive energy.
Decide on your essentials, then arrange them thoughtfully (if you have an unobstructed view of a window and the exit, that’s a fantastic edge). Complement your work items with cool colors, plants, natural light and pleasing art so that your office strikes the right balance between being a place for work and a place you want to spend time.
2. Get comfortable (but not too comfortable)
No buts (or butts) about it: Where you sit matters. A good chair is important in any office, so find something with good lumbar support. Avoid couches, hammocks or any sitting area you could nap in. (If you do need to take a nap, schedule a power snooze in a different room: The home office is a no-bed zone.)
The same goes for your clothing. Staying in PJs may seem like an attractive option, but taking a bit of time each morning to put yourself together will boost confidence and productivity to help you stay energized. Again, a happy balance is more than possible: feel free to reserve those heels and ties for special occasions.
3. Separate church and state
One of the great perks about working from home is that you can tend to domestic responsibilities with a little more flexibility than you would at the office. But separation is critical, no matter how you do it. If you have kids, this means making sure they’re being taken care of while you’re working, and being clear with your family members, friends or even nosy neighbors that you can’t be interrupted at any hour. Create boundaries, both tangible and intangible, to prevent distracting crossover. Ground rules and door signs are both effective tools.
4. Invest in good equipment
What is an office without modern technology? Not a very functional one, that’s for sure. Not all computers are built for full-time or even part-time work, and depending on your industry you’re likely to need something with advanced processing power, good storage, great privacy settings and a backup hard drive. You may also want a proper office phone for work calls only.
Another must-have for many remote workers and business owners is a good printer. You won’t need an industrial printer, but there are perfect in-between options, like the Brother INKvestment Tank all-in-one inkjet printers, that take care of all your business needs without taking up half the room.
5. Schedule your day
When you’re working from home, you may or may not have regular meetings. The freedom to schedule your own day is something to take advantage of, especially if you want to get things done. A good way to start is to set “official” office hours for yourself and try to stick to them. You can schedule time for emails in the morning, an hour for lunch and dedicated time for clients too, depending on your line of work. Don’t forget to schedule time to get out of the house, even for just a quick walk to clear your head.
Another great perk? Your zero-minute commute is already saving you time, so you may be able to start and finish sooner than you would otherwise.
6. Use your flexibility wisely
At the end of the day, the flexibility offered by a home office environment can be a boon or a burden: it all depends on you. If you need to pick up your kids, you can do it. If you need to do laundry, you can use a timer as a method to carve out an hour for specific tasks. If you thrive best by taking a midday jog or a 20-minute nap, both options are available to you.
Just keep yourself in check to make sure you’re taking advantage of this flexibility instead of letting it compromise your efficiency. Switching gears during traditional work hours is a privilege that should serve you professionally by optimizing your time on and off the clock.
And if you do things right, who knows? You may just find yourself wanting to spend more time in your home office anyway.
Visit the Brother INKvestment Tank website for more information on how the Brother INKvestment Tank can transform your home office.