The Home Office – Are you still cleaning or already getting things done?

Today was a great day. Starting with a walk around the lake, I’ve attended a very informative seminar about medical benefits in the GCC. The best was finishing my work day from home.

To me, working from home has many advantages: Less interruptions and less distractions, a lot more focus and productivity! Given my various deadlines (who doesn’t have them), it was just what was needed and I was so pleased to close a number of activities off.

To some, working from home is a very different story. The laundry basket is calling your name, you haven’t seen your neighbour for a while, why not catch up and oh, you haven’t decided what to cook for dinner yet. What can you do to treat your home office just like your regular office?

  • Identify a designated and separate space in your home for your office. If you don’t have an extra room for your home office, find a quite space and set up your work area. You may want to invest in a bookshelf which functions as a room divider or a folding room divider which can put in front of your home office after work.
  • Just like in your corporate office, you may need certain tools. Split your work area into zones, a principle that Julie Morgenstern shaped.
    • What do you need next to you? These should be the items you’ll use on a daily basis like pen, paper and your phone or office supplies (e.g. hole puncher, stapler). If you’re right handed, keep your phone on your left side. It will enable you to write while talking on the phone. Don’t forget to throw out pens that don’t write any more.
    • Where do you gather your thoughts and ideas? Do you work with a white board, a chalk board or on a separate table? What space do you require vertically (boards on the wall) or horizontally (table, floor)? Remember to throw out initial drafts which are no longer used.
    • Where do you keep your reference materials? How often do you access them? A cabinet within reach from your chair or a few feet away?
    • What about your marketing and promotional items? Can they be stored in a cabinet, bookshelf or do you need additional space in a different room (attic, basement, garage)? If you’re storing them elsewhere, invest in some plastic containers which prevent mould from spreading (unlike cardboard boxes).
    • Where do you keep your calendar? Whether you’ll schedule your appointments in Outlook, your phone or in your filofax, stick to one calendar. Use reminders to alert you about upcoming meetings, calls and deadlines.
  • The lines may be blurred when working from home. Make sure you schedule your breaks and refresh. This could be with a cup of tea or a quick walk outside. You may want to stick to the same duration for each break that you allow yourself when working in the corporate office. Just because you’re working at home doesn’t mean you can slag.
  • Quite please!” Notify your friends and family that you are still working. Being at home does not give them a reason to pop in for a chat or call you every hour. You are still working.
  • Dress in some work attire. You may not see your customers and colleagues in your suit or high heels. Yet, make an effort and change out of your PJs.
  • Take time to file your printed and electronic copies. What do you need to take to the office? Do you really need to keep two 2 printed copies in your home and the corporate office? Can you just keep one printed copy or only the electronic copy? If you already have the same information 2x, throw out the 3rd copy. Don’t keep documents which are outdated or no longer apply to you (e.g. documents from a different role)
  • What’s the best filing system for you? Are you more visual and sort by colours? Smead has a huge variety of folders in all different kinds of colours. Do you prefer an alphabetical sort?
  • Shred all documents with confidential and/or personal information.
  • If working from home is the norm for you, can you arrange face-to-face meetings on specific days of the week only? This will help you bundle your appointments and reduce your travel time.
  • At the end of the working day, clear your work area. This includes preparing for the next day, filing your paper work, removing used mugs and glasses and emptying the rubbish bin.
  • As it may be tougher to finish for the day when working from home, set yourself a closing time and follow it. Close the door to your office or put up the room divider to signal “The working day is over for today.”

You can check out my previous post about productivity where you’ll find more tips on achieving more in a focus manner.

Leave a comment with what keeps you focused and organised when working from home. I’d love to hear from you!



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