Your home office can be many things. It can be a place to work without interruptions, the base for your wider operations or a way to get an efficient tax break (isn’t use of home allowance wonderful?). Whatever your home office means to you, it should be a place where you can feel productive and get work done, which is why it’s such a shame that one of the major problems with working from home is the amount of time we tend to waste. There are many reasons that time seems to slip by unnoticed in a home office, and it isn’t always because of the amount of work we are doing. So if you find yourself struggling to get everything done, try one of these tips to maximise the efficiency in your home office.
Actually Claim A Space
It’s amazing just how many of those who work at home don’t actually have a designated space to do so. So your first step should be to claim (if you don’t have one already) a space for your office. You need a spot within your home that is yours and yours alone so you can be completely free from distractions so that you can make the most of your work. This shouldn’t be a table in the family room or ‘your spot’ on the sofa – there should be enough room for a small desk and space for filing if you need it. There are even some amazing tutorials out there for turning your cupboards into an office if you’re handy with tools. Ensure your family knows that when you’re using this room you shouldn’t be disturbed and that you are working. This room should be treated like an external office would be – your own space that is completely dedicated to work.
Get Rid Of Distractions
Working from home comes with it’s own unique set of distractions. It could be the stray dog toy under the desk or the TV in the corner singing to you to just watch one more show. Keeping the treadmill by your desk because it saves space in the house might sound like a great idea, but it might also drive you crazy thinking about working out (and how you should be doing more of it) instead of actually working. To make the most of your office space, get rid of anything that might be distracting or negative so that you can focus on working.
Establish Your Work Hours
One of the best things about working from home is the ability to set your own working hours, but this can be a bit of a double edged sword. On the one hand you can be flexible around home commitments or illness, but on the other hand the temptation to work at any time is always there. To truly maximize your efficiency and productivity, you should have set working hours. You might want to work a typical 9-5, or maybe you want to try working 10-6, or 8-4 instead. Once you have found the hours that work best for you, you need to ensure you stick to them. Make sure you are at your desk at 8am and finish what you’re doing at 5pm every day, if that is your set schedule. The idea of sleeping in and start later might seem appealing, or maybe you want to stretch your hours and just work that little bit longer, but these little things do add up. To make sure you don’t end up working 9am-9pm every day it’s important to keep an eye on your hours from the beginning.
Separate Home And Work Computers
In terms of claiming your home office tax deductions this step is pretty much essential, but it also helps your focus to keep your work and play machines separate. Get yourself an inexpensive machine to be your personal or family computer and keep your work computer off limits to everyone else. Put passwords in place and make sure you change them regularly. This is important for the confidentiality of your clients and your work, but it also means you can do research without a hundred ads popping up for things your kids were looking at and you don’t need to go searching through files to find what you’re looking for.
To Do Lists
The to-do list is without a doubt the saviour of anyone working from home. Keeping track of everything you need to do within your business is essential to your organisation, but there is another to-do list that is equally important. This is your household to-do list. The point of this to-do list is to take all the non-work related things that jump into your head throughout the day and put them out of your mind so that you can focus. So if you suddenly remember something you need to do when you get home, just write it on the home list and you don’t have to think about it anymore. This means you can focus on your work and be more productive, and you will never finish a day and be annoyed that you can’t remember that thing you thought of at 11am that you needed to do.
Often what works for one person’s home office is completely different to another’s, so it’s important to experiment with ways of working until you find the one that works for you. Very few people know straight away what the best routine is for them when working from home, so the trick is to try out different working patterns and routines all the time. You should leave your home office at the end of your day feeling accomplished and ready to relax and enjoy your free time. It’s one of the perks of working from home after all!