As someone who runs their own home based business I find it even more important to run an efficient work space at home, more so than I ever did when I was working in the corporate world. While it’s easy to tell everyone that they should set up their work space a certain way, each person works in different manner.
Having worked for many years in the corporate world as an executive assistant to different senior level executives, I can easily say that while my desk had everything in its place and a place for everything. Each of my bosses worked in a various form of chaos, or at least what I thought was chaos. On the same token though each of them had a system that worked for them, so what I present here are some suggestions on how to keep your home office space running efficiently, choose what might work for you and try some others. Consider the old adage, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”.
While some small business companies will woo you with the idea of unlimited potential to earn cash and most will say you can run this business from your kitchen table. Truth be told it is important to ensure that you have a designated space within your home and is free and clear from dinner or any other meal, a place that preferably has a door to give you the chance to shut out the kids, the dog, or whatever other distraction may be near. When deciding where to set up shop it is important to have the work space away from other household activities, this allows you to walk away from the business when a break is necessary without touching anything.
Filing Space While shoe boxes can work in the short-term in the long run it is important to set up a system that will store and maintain any key information. Information to consider holding on to would be any correspondence with the government, lawyer, accountant, and bank. Other key information would be anything that is crucial to the running of your business, client information, invoices and files. What might not be so important catalogues or information that you might consider useful someday. If it doesn’t have an immediate need or impact get rid of it, when the time comes that you need the information seek it out on line or call the company, at that point the information will be accurate and current. Also consider how you want to access and store the information there are some great storage systems now available that can work for any work style.
Office Supplies Buy only what you need, if you have a years supply of pens it’s taking up space that could likely be better utilized for something else. Most home office has limited space and it needs to be utilized to the best advantages.
Imagine, you will likely be spending many hours working at your home office so it’s important to have a chair that is comfortable and helps your posture. This is worth the investment, spend some money and purchase a suitable ergonomically correct chair for your body type. This will help with lower back pain, improper posture, neck strain and other chronic body pains that can be associated with poor posture and a chair that doesn’t work for you.
By systems I simply mean establish systems that work for you and don’t be swayed by someone who tries to suggest another way of working is better. If it works for you then it’s the right system no matter what. Such systems would be determining a follow-up or tickler system. Today’s customer oriented business world it is important to establish a system that will make sure that you follow up on all tasks, phone calls or emails. Use a traditional tickler system, or use technology to answer the same issue. Whatever you choose use it and stick to it, for creating a pattern leads to a habit. Another system would be a task or to do list, a colleague of mine has 4 different in-boxes on their desk one for call backs, one for waiting for a call back, to do, and new. She simply reviews what came in and files it to the necessary inboxes after she’s handled it or taken action on it.
If you can’t determine what would work best for you, then employing the services of a virtual assistant or professional organizer might be worth considering. Both groups focus on working with systems that make their working life easier and will take the time to understand your needs and working style to help develop a system that will work best for you.
While far more could be written on the topic and I think it is important to remember that as a work from home professional you need to establish systems that you can maintain, use and ultimately benefit from to have a home office environment worth calling your office.