So you're finally following your dreams. You're self-employed. You set your own hours. You pick your paychecks up at the mail box. No more long commutes for you. You even get to "wheel-and-deal" in the quiet and solitude of your own home office. You . . .
What's that? You don't have a home office?
You work, instead, on the kitchen table or the computer station in the family room or--much to your spouse's dismay--on the cluttered desk in the corner of the bedroom (clickety-clackity, clickety-clackity go the keys until the wee hours of the morning).
Get a room already! Preferably one you can claim and make your own. Concentration, focus and productivity will improve--and so will your peace of mind.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!
Being a home office, by definition, the space you choose as your own actually has to be in your home--so right away you're constrained to a certain, fixed location. Your "home office" can't be in the building down the street.
That said, here are five items that mattered most to me when I chose the location for my home office:
1. My office space needed to be physically practical while also being good for my psyche--no stark four walls, cramped space, or gloom for me.
2. I needed a space into which I could literally disappear for hours--away from the hubbub of family activity, noisy children, cooking smells, and errant pets.
3. The space needed to work for me in physical terms, with adequate room for a desk, work area, reading nook, printer stand, fax machine, storage of office supplies, etc.
4. I needed a room that afforded me a view of the outdoors--a room that provided me something to look at other than my computer screen.
5. The space could serve no dual purposes. This had to be my office with my "stuff" in it, from pictures on the walls to books on the shelves.
CREATING THE SPACE
Fortunately when we built our home over a decade ago, I imagined that I would someday want a home office. During construction I had a spare 10-foot by 13-foot bedroom on the top floor wired for an additional phone line and the electrical outlets in the room equipped with surge protection. I also placed sound deadening board in the walls, six inches of fiberglass insulation in the floor, and topped it off with a heavy six-panel solid wood door--complete with lock and key--making for a very cozy and quiet setting.
Granted, not everyone has the opportunity to plan their home office as I did, but you may be able to make some "after market" changes to your space to make it more functional . . . and desirable.
HERE ARE SOME IDEAS:
* When I converted the spare bedroom to office space a few years ago, I placed industrial shelving in the room's large 3-foot by 6-foot closet, creating an efficient storage area lined with office supplies, paper, envelopes, client files, books, computer references, print cartridges, and more--all easy to access, all readily available. No more down time hunting for paper clips!
* On the walls, I hung non-work related items such as photos of my wife and children, a painting of a doe and fawn lakeside, photos I've taken of places I've visited (and often would rather be)--all visual cues I can look to when I need to step back from a project and remind myself of what's really important.
* I recently added a semi-dry aquarium to the mix, full of shells, sea glass, and mementos of various excursions to sea shores both near and far. What's unique about this mostly-dry aquarium is that at its center in a traditional "gold fish" bowl resides--you guessed it--a gold fish. As I watch the fish swim about its watery home, "Flo" has become a companion of sorts, providing me with occasional and necessary mental "breaks" from lengthy stints at the computer or on the phone.
* I also have a doublewide window that overlooks my backyard and a strategically located birdfeeder that affords occasional glimpses of a flitting jay, chickadee or mourning dove--not to mention the sometimes-comical antics of several resident red and gray squirrels as they shinny up the steel post from which the feeder hangs.
BE "AT WORK" WHEN YOU NEED TO BE
By creating your own distinct space, you can truly "be at work" when you need to be. No more trying to mask the sounds of jovial children in the background as you speak to a client; no more apologizing for being up late with light on, rustling papers as you print the latest draft of that important proposal.
Once you get a room for your home office and once you make it your own, you will see a marked difference. With fewer distractions and an increased ability focus, you'll be more productive, more attentive, and that much further along the way to making your dreams of successful self-employment a reality.
Copyright (c) 2004 by Matt McGovern--All rights reserved.