Organizing Your Home-based Office

If a train station is where the train stops, what’s a workstation?…”

If your workstation in your home-based office is where the work stops, it is time to take another look at it. A home office should have some means of separation from your home activities. If your kids or neighbors or spouse are constantly interupting, it might be that your workstation is not clearly defined. You should be able to let others know that when you are at your office, nothing but an emergency should interupt you.

Try to isolate your office  area so, when you are on a business phone call, there are no shreiking kids in the background or TV running. You want it to appear to be a professional office even if you are in your jammies in an easy chair with the cat in your lap. Which reminds me of one time I was in my home-office when the phone rang. I was talking with a potential big client and take notes while our cat was sitting in my lap — the ideal home office setting. However, this cat had an exceptionally loud purr and the more I tried to squelch that while on the business call, the louder the purring got. I hoped it would not be noticed. Finally the client stopped mid-sentence to ask what that loud background noise was. I gave a little fib and blamed it on a truck idling outside of the office. After that, I kept my office door closed so the cat wouldn’t disrupt my office environment.

A few unseen items that might keep the work from stopping in your home-based office:

  • Lighting – Flickering lights in a basement office or dim lights will make it hard to stay focused for a long period of time. Make sure your lighting is adaquate.
  • Furniture – An overstuffed easy chair is not productive office furniture. It can be a nice touch for taking a break for a few minutes but you really should have a real office chair and a desk that is large enough to spread out a project that you are tackling. A hard chair will not be conducive to your goal of working for a long stretch so make sure you invest in a comfortable office chair.
  • Distractions – A TV is not considered office furniture. Move it elsewhere! A view of the back yard or the kids playing may be fun but you won’t be focused on your work. As you uncover distractions, move or hide them from your view.
  • Hands-free phone – I use my cell phone all the time. It is hooked to a headset so I can take notes, look at web sites, and do other tasks while talking with clients. If you are in a noisy environment, there are headphones with noise cancelling features which help reduce the feeling that you are conducting business in your local tavern.

Bottom line is to make sure your home-based office is functional. I’ve confessed in another article that my home-based office is not a showpiece. But it is certainly functional. If you can’t get your work done at home, you probably don’t need to move into an expensive office away from home… you just need to adjust the environment.

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