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Setting Up Your Home Office

by Joel Aemmer

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Working at home means setting up your home office for success. While you can begin your work at home career sitting in the recliner at night, using your laptop, your efficiency will lag and your output will be reduced. At the time you decide to become serious about working at home, it is time to determine where and how to set up a real office situation to improve your chances at success. You can easily run an online business from a home office, and enjoy the benefits of working at home.

There are several things you need to establish for priorities in your home environment. Is there a place you can designate to be "the home office"? If so, you have done step one. If not, you will need to figure out what space can be devoted to just one thing, your workspace. It could be a corner in the bedroom if necessary. An actual separate room or partitioned area is best. The goal is to get started, and make improvements along the way.

Distractions are probably the most likely problem you will face at home. There is so much else to do! Are you juggling laundry with your typing assignments? By fragmenting your attention to non-work things, you are reducing your efficiency at work, the potential quality of your work, and increasing the time it will take you to do your work. That will, in itself, cost you money. Time is money, even at home.

Once you have determined where your home office will be, it is time to work on environment and atmosphere. There are a couple of things that can influence your area environment.

-Are you a parent? Children are a parent's priority over everything. If you are trying to work at home and the children are around, it is best if you have a Mother's Helper, an assistant to do the child care in order to free you up. If you do not, and you try to do work while your children are needing your attention, you are failing both work and family. Make sure that your work time does not conflict with your parenting time. Get some help, a baby sitter or day care.

-Interruptions. The home phone, the television, knocks at the door, friends and neighbors, the dog wants to go outside, and so on, are interruptions to minimize. Post a sign on the door, "do not disturb", let the phone answerer pick up the calls, take care of the dog before you sit down to work, or whatever it takes, but do not allow interruptions to distract you from your work.

-Atmosphere. Your home office should be as professional as possible. This is like dressing up for work or school. People who are "in the mood" do better work. Yes, it is a home office. Yes, you can work in your pajamas. Yes, you can have a sloppy workspace. But, you will do better if you dress at least semi-professionally, and have a neat, organized, quiet home office. .

-Amenities. You are at home, you can eat whatever, whenever. You can gaze out the window and no one will fire you. However, those gaps in attention need to be recognized as "work at home distractions". Set a regular time for meals, just like any businessperson would do. Watch out for time wasters. This is especially important if you are telecommuting or running an internet business. Remember time is money.

-Office design. You can use a different design scheme for your home office area, to help set it away from the rest of your home life. Fill it with necessary work items, office furniture, computer, phone, rolodex, file cabinets, calendar, and everything else you need to have handy to do your job. The more it looks like a work space, the more work you will accomplish. Yes, you are at home and one benefit is that you can fill your office with goodies you could not have at a regular job, like that comfy chaise lounge, deluxe office chair, hand selected posters, and photos of the family you love. Make it your work space, with everything handy that you will need. But do not make it overly comfortable or restful. You want to stay alert and awake!

-Motivation. Here is an important matter. Even at home, you need to maintain motivation. Remember why you are working at home, and why it is important to you to do this at home. Maybe you have responsibilities or even a disability that demands that you remain at home. Put up motivational posters, signs, or stickers to keep you on track. Post up a photo of the vacation spot you want to go to, or the college logo from where your children want to go to school, or the items you want to buy. Anything that works for motivation is okay!

-Socialization. One thing you miss out on while working at home is the social networking that occurs in any office. You can find a replacement for this, of sorts, by attending local home business worker's meetings, or by joining an appropriate association and becoming active in that organization. Watch out for becoming overly involved; do not use too much time away from your work. Use email and other networking websites to stay in touch with friends and associates. Try to have lunch out from time to time with friends and associates. You do not want to become so isolated that you are out of touch with that "other world out there".

-Little things. Finally, in setting up your home office, be sure you attend to the little things of work life. Get your tax ID, and start record keeping for financial affairs. Establish a separate bank account for your home business. Get any business memberships you may need, for purchases or fun. Set up an organized filing system at home. Browse the internet for associations, meetings, or conventions you may wish to attend. Enjoy working at home!

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