Home office and your lifestyle
Not everybody can work alone in a home office; it takes discipline when it comes to maintaining your productivity. By creating a dedicated office space that can be shut off from distractions and by utilising modern technology a very efficient working environment can be created.
Make good choices about the home office environment you create, or you will want to move back to a rented office. Rented offices cost thousands of dollars per year, so with the savings, you make you can afford to make your home office workable.
Maybe you’re working from a home office doing freelance work, or have started your own business and don’t have an office space. Perhaps you’re working remotely for a company and spend a lot of time in your living room. No matter how hard you attempt to keep your home office productive, it can be hard to stay focused with the distraction of your family, comfortable bed, TV and various other distractions so easily accessible.
Why not build an office to suit your way of operating.
Create a space for working with no other activities
Paying attention to detail will help you work more effectively in your home office. You might have to start in the bedroom, but this should only be temporary. Avoid mixing your workspace with your personal and family space, so set aside an area in your house that you only use for work.
Whether it be a closed-off room or a desk in the corner of your small studio, when you go there, your mind will associate your work. Just sitting at your work desk will begin to trigger your working mindset, so getting in the zone will be more comfortable.
The important thing is to create a place where you feel comfortable and can maintain a good mood. Use tools and processes to stay productive at home in the face of the many distractions.
Be able to shut out family noise and distractions
Arguably the most significant issues with a home office, particularly with a young family, is dividing your time between business and family time. What you perceive as noise travelling through a wall is sound waves causing the wall to vibrate.
Since noise travels primarily through the air, the best way to block it is to put something in its path. To be most effective at blocking sound, the material should be gapless, since sound will come through even the smallest cracks and holes. It should have a lot of mass, so it’s less prone to vibrate and pass noisy vibrations.
Although fibreglass and other types of insulation are great heat and cold insulators, they’re fairly mediocre sound insulators as they lack mass. Fibreglass insulation will help reduce noise transmission through exterior and interior walls when meticulously cut and fitted around and behind wires, pipes and electrical boxes. But to be even moderately effective, all holes and cracks must be sealed with a heavy material like plaster.
There will always be conflict between love and work.
Metal beams, ducts and pipes vibrate easily and carry impact noises from one end to the other. To reduce noise, use rubber or resilient materials to support them. You can also help confine sound by creating a break in the material. Soft, dense materials, like heavy curtains, stuffed furniture and thick carpet, will make the room quieter with less echo. They will also reduce the noise transmitted from other places.
Working together without frustration and argument
It’s so easy to become wrapped up in what you don’t have and hasn’t accomplished you won’t always realise what you do have. It’s easy to feel like you’re not doing as well as you should. Sometimes you have to pay attention and measure your progress more objectively, which is when it might pay to engage some external advice.
Having a long-lasting marriage is an accomplishment in itself, so it’s even more amazing when a couple also manages to run a successful business together, while they raise their family.
- Understand and appreciate your family will have conflicting ideas and priorities.
- Understand the process of building a great home office environment.
- Simplify hierarchy; you will work better as a collaborative team.
- Have all the family involved in decision making.
- Focus on hearts and minds.
- Fuel urgency with an important opportunity-focus.
- Be very clear about roles and responsibilities.
- Eliminate irrelevant rules.
- Don’t confuse family time just because you are together at work.
Trying to separate work and family can be hard to reconcile. While spending all your time with the one you love sounds the ideal thing. However, when sharing both a bed and a business, challenges are bound to arise. Collaboration, compromise and achieving a good work/life balance should be high priorities.
Organise your home office the way you want it
Set up space you enjoy. You shouldn’t be in a cave of darkness and gloom (unless you like darkness and sadness). Create a home office that makes you feel happy and comfortable when you enter; it doesn’t have to fit any mould unless you create it.
Arrange to have a working desk and comfortable chair. It is where you spend most of your time. Find a comfortable chair, and decide what kind of tabletop space you would like and need. I had my home office desk specially build to the way I like to work, and in materials, I like. Do you want a standing desk? A desk with a top on which to unscramble ideas? A small desk which only fits your laptop, or a large desk to hold three monitors?
Allow for a working environment with at least one other person. In my case, I can have three people in my office. If I need more space, I use the dining room table. These are all practical decisions you will need to make. More often than not you will be having meetings in coffee shops, or on clients premises.
Consider the air conditioning and heating you will require. The temperature will have an impact on your productivity and enjoyment. It is a good idea to select an office with windows for excellent natural light.
Have a place for clutter or disposing of it
Studies show that some people like a messy situation to work http://goo.gl/gJ6NAj. There are others who can’t focus unless everything is in its proper place. Spend time deciding how you like to work and design your office accordingly. It’s your office; you must be happy working in it, you don’t have to conform to anyone’s corporate rules. Have a place for everything and have everything in its place, you will feel better and perform better. Remember you probably won’t have a personal assistant on hand to find things for you.
Built-in cupboards or other cupboards or shelving in the house or garage can take care of items you don’t use on a regular basis. I have one four-drawer filing cabinet in my office and four in the garage. The amount of paper to be stored is diminishing as it becomes digitised. You’re not a bad person or terminally disorganised if your office is a mess right now. You’re just a person who hasn’t taken the time to learn new habits and make full use of technology, that helps you keep your office as organised as you would like.
Invest in mobility and flexibility
In case you do need a change of scenery, use tools with mobile apps, and buy yourself a portable charger, wireless keyboard, wireless mouse—whatever you need to spend a day out of office and still get work done.
Make full use of mobility
Save a few trees and turn a wall into a whiteboard. You can find large whiteboards online to hang on your wall or buy something like IdeaPaint to turn your entire wall into a dry-erase board with special clear or white paint. Put your ideas on the whiteboard so they stay top-of-mind as you have fewer people to remind you in the home office.
Now your set up, organise yourself
The critical things to take care of in a home office will be:
- Working hours
- Work habits
- Family time and management
- Relaxation and hobby time
- Study time. Set aside time to keep yourself up-to-date
- How does your office make you feel?
Don’t forget your escape to sanity. When your ‘mind traffic’ starts to build up and you feel overwhelmed, you need a relief valve. I avoid losing my concentration and momentum by merely having a five-minute walk around the garden. I might do this four or five times a day. It always amazes me how my mind seems to come up with better ideas when I take a short walk.
Set up your social interaction
Sometimes a home office can make you feel isolated and lonely. It can be particularly so if you have been used to an office environment with plenty of people around you. If you are a person who likes people around, it can be addressed by identifying people who can provide you with social interaction as required. Have them drop in, or arrange to have a regular coffee break with them.
Stay healthy while working from home
I have worked from my home for over 25 years. It is fantastic for my concentration and productivity, and it saves me much travel time. It has been essential to adjust my routines to stay healthy.
Food supply including snacks is also essential in the home office. Research tells us that there are certain things that you can start eating that will improve your brain health and functioning, so you can stay sharp and on top of your workload. It can be tempting to reach for things you know aren’t healthy. At home, you’re not tempted by the office’s catered meals, birthday cakes, and free snacks. On the other hand, you’re surrounded by the food in your kitchen all day. The good news is that healthier options are easy-to-find.
You probably have some of them within reach right now
- Nuts and seeds
- Dark chocolate
- Green tea
- Fresh vegetables
- Avocados and fruit
- Whole grains.
A healthy mind is a productive mind, and there’s no time like the present to start eating your way there as you allow for regular exercise and good sleep habits. A catnap during the day can also be very beneficial. I’ve learned that the home-office pitfalls are controllable with a little discipline. It requires being mindful. Keep a healthy kitchen and save treats for going out.
You’ve heard habits are vital to getting fit and healthy. In my experience, practices are more critical when you work from home. It is because you don’t have those office cues telling you it’s time to work, time for lunch, or time go home for the day. I prefer to start work at 5 am when its quiet and there are no interruptions. That time of day is also when I feel most productive. Work out whenever works for you. Whatever you do, the only thing that matters is that you do it and enjoy your routines.
A home office can also reduce your home mortgage
You will be able to deduct a certain amount of your mortgage as rent. Also, you can claim other things such as rates, energy and maintenance. The home office deduction allows you to deduct expenses directly related to maintaining your home office.
Pay off your mortgage quicker. Just apply your business rent to the mortgage.
You can also deduct a portion of certain expenses that are associated with your home but are not deductible by the average homeowner. These expenses might include insurance, utilities, repairs, security system, housekeeping services, garbage disposal, gardening and beautification expenses. You are well advised to seek specific advice from your accountant.
Essential tools for a more productive home office
Apart from all the standard office equipment and tools, you will find the following very useful in a home office environment.
- A communication tool – If you have team members to keep in contact with throughout the day, make sure you’re all using the same communication tool to facilitate group discussions. Popular choices include Zoom https://zoom.us, Skype and Google Hangouts.
- A cloud-based document manager – Storing all your files in the cloud means when your computer crashes, you don’t lose your important files. If you want to pull up a record while you’re away from your office, you can always access it via mobile apps or the browser on a different computer. Dropbox www.dropbox.com and Google Drive are our advanced easy-to-use document management tools.
- A project management app – With the evolution of mobility in your work, project management apps are becoming more necessary to share work with colleagues and customers remotely.
“Science may never come up with a better office communication system than the coffee break”. Earl Wilson
“There’s something boring about people who have to go to an office for a living”. Karl Lagerfeld