How To Have An Efficient Home Office

paperless officeAt one time, going to work meant literally leaving your home and going to your place of business.

Those days are over. Today, more people than ever work out of their home. Whether in marketing, web development, software and IT, financial services, and much more, it’s easier than ever to have a thriving career right in the comfort of your own home.

Working from home, however, comes with its own challenges, not the least of which is managing your home office space. Here’s how to do it right:

BEST PRACTICES: Your Setup

Have A Dedicated Space – Working from home just won’t pan out if you don’t have a dedicated workspace. This is not only important for tax purposes, it’s an important part of keeping you focused when it comes time to get things done.

Get Rid Of Distractions – It’s fine to personalize your workspace. It’s your home, after all. Just be sure to be smart about how you do it. Remove anything that is going to distract you from the task at hand. That means no video game systems, no mini-basketball, and maybe even no cell phone nearby (unless it’s a necessary part of your job).

Have A Bare Bones, Modern Computer – By “bare bones” we mean stripping away unnecessary software that will distract you. By “modern” we mean fast enough so that it won’t slow you down. It may seem counterintuitive, but spending money on up-to-date hardware is an essential money-saving office tip. The money you spend now on a new computer will be saved ten times over when your work doesn’t come to a grinding halt due to slow performance and crashes.

Go Paperless – These days, few things are better for efficiency than switching to a paperless office. Even if you cannot take the full plunge and make a total conversion, some targeted document scanning and archiving can help ensure your workspace is cleaner, leaner and more efficient. Less paperwork = less muss and fuss for you to deal with.

BEST PRACTICES: Your Habits

Don’t Be Glued To Your Email – For most, email is an essential part of working from home. However, it can also be one of your biggest time sinks. Rather than checking your email throughout the day, do so three times: once when you first get started, once at midday (maybe just before you take a break), and once just before you wrap up for the day. The rest of the time you should be focused on working, not on corresponding about working.

Set And Maintain Regular Hours – Some people are able to work at random times of the day and make it work for them, but those people are rare. For most of us, establishing a routine and keeping to it is an essential part of a successful work-from-home experience. What those hours are is your choice – that is one of the advantages of working from home, after all – the key is simply to stick with what you’ve outlined.

Use To-Do Lists – The idea may seem old-fashioned, but without a boss hanging over your shoulder a trusty little “to do” list is a great way to keep yourself on task. It’s a daily reminder of what you need to accomplish that day. The very act of creating one, in fact, is an excellent way to stay focused.

The bottom line is simple: working from home can be a great experience, but it takes forethought, preparation and discipline. Follow these work-from-home tips to make the experience work for you!