Remember how in “Sex in the City” Carrie spent the whole week writing one column from her New York City apartment whenever she found the time? Remember all those expensive shoes she bought from that one column? Turns out, making a living from home isn’t actually that easy (sigh). As a full time freelance writer, I can tell you that focus is the key to being successful. The best way I’ve found to stay focused? Creating a functional home office.
Check out these 7 steps for creating your own functional home office:
Dedicate a space
You don’t need to have a spare bedroom available to build an office space. All you need is a clean, quiet corner somewhere in your home or apartment. I’d suggest somewhere near a window to keep you connected to the outside world. Once you decide on a space, dedicate that space only to your work. It shouldn’t double as your kitchen table or kids craft table. This space is your personal work sanctuary. Having that permanent separation between work and home will keep your mind from wandering while “at work.”
Fill your space
Now that you’ve found a space, it’s time to set it up. Find a desk and chair that will be comfortable for working all day. I chose a leather chair and permanently converted my small dining room table that I never used into a desk by pushing it up against the wall and lowering the leaves.
Working from home often means putting in hours very early and very late in the day. Make sure your space will work for you regardless of the time of day by adding lighting. I’ve found that good lighting can also help keep my mood up during the day. A lamp, string lighting or even an overhead light that isn’t too harsh will do the trick.
Cover the basics
Make a list of the office supplies you find yourself needing regularly and stock up. Your home office should work just as hard as you do, never giving you an excuse to pack up early for the day. Always on my desk are post it notes, paperclips, legal pads and file folders labeled for each of my clients.
Double up on screens
I always laughed at people who had multiple screens on one desk – unitl I tried it myself. You’d be amazed how much your productivity increases when you link a computer monitor to your laptop. Instead of sorting through several tabs and checking back to your email every 10 minutes, you can leave your email and to-do list open on your computer monitor, while completing your tasks on your laptop. Give it a try, I guarantee you’ll be a convert like me!
Make it yours
Working from home can often make you feel like you’re on your own island. Your mood directly affects your level of motivation, so fill your workspace with things that make you happy, just like you would in a real office. Plants, pictures of your family, inspirational quotes and your favorite artwork will all help keep your mood up. I have a big mirror right above my desk that I can look into and give myself pep talks throughout the day. Don’t knock it ‘til you try it!
Implement a “no cell phone” policy
If there’s one thing that can ruin your focus, it’s a cell phone. Texts from friends and family, social media and the weather app (do I need to check it 10 times a day?) are waiting with baited breath to break you away from your work. Let your friends and family know you are unavailable during work hours and keep your phone away from your desk unless you’re expecting a work call. Remember, your new workspace should be used for work only.
There’s no reason why working from home should lower your productivity. Whether you work from home full time or just once weekly, make the most of your time by creating a space that maximizes your productivity.
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