Working from home is a sensation like no other. Being able to roll out of bed, down stairs to the kettle and along/down/up/over to your designated office space within mere minutes is certainly a welcome alternative to the mundaneness of the morning commute to many. However, there are numerous pitfalls involved with working from home that many people fail to consider before it is all but too late.
One of these is linked to the aforementioned and ever-important ‘designated office space’. Whilst working from home should provide a degree of relaxation above that which you’re used to in the more typical workplace, it can be hard to strike the right balance between comfortable and work-inspiring. After all, this is your home we’re talking about- and what’s to stop you casually slipping a DVD in and putting off a deadline for yet another day?
I know all too well the downsides associated with being your own boss. With no one to answer to, many of us freelancers will slack and procrastinate all we can. Though having a work-space which is tuned-in to your professional competence will not be the answer to all of your prayers, it will certainly help improve productivity.
Have a Desk and a Separate Sitting Area
At first this was something I overlooked completely, stopping at nothing to distance myself from the countless snarky directors and editors I’d encountered during my tenure as an intern student- sweating into a PVC couch in some sterile office somewhere. Soon enough however, as I found myself confined to an office (albeit a spare bedroom in my house) day after day, all on my own- I began to long for an alternative to my office chair.
However, a separate seating option, which is preferably more comfortable, can do wonders for your productivity. Not only does it give you the option of getting away from your desk/computer screen for a little while- but a general change in environment. The wonders this can do for creative output are astronomical.
Control the Lighting
The internet is awash with self-help articles on this very subject, which stress the importance of having a work place which receives plenty of natural lighting. Whilst I’ve no gripe at all with this advice, I wouldn’t endorse such a generalised comment on the matter.
Control of your lighting situation, one way or another, is more important than receiving lots of sunlight directly into your eyes when you’re trying to focus on some annoyingly small words on an illuminated computer screen. Choosing a room which is fully lit by 7am is great for productivity yes, though installing black out curtains for when you feel a bit rough is also extremely advisable.
Keep it ‘Single Purpose’
I made the grave mistake of using my home office as a bit of a storage space for my bands gear at one point. Though it was great to have so much lovely gear at my disposal, I found myself playing more guitar than I did writing. Whilst this isn’t necessarily all bad, I eventually had to force myself into the realisation that, in my line of employment, I’m more likely to get paid for writing something than I am for a constant and very mediocre display of my average abilities on the guitar.
Working from home, it’s already hard enough to make the distinction between work time and personal time. Don’t make things harder for yourself by not taking your professional pursuits seriously!
Working in corporate office places for the shockingly short and hopefully not-too-eventually-regrettable time I did, I learned one thing- they’re very dull. Surely a primary perk to working from home is the power you have to set-up your own space according to your own tastes, personality and passions?
Whether you’d like to slap some boy-band posters on the wall, paint a rainbow on the ceiling or even make a carbon copy of the mundane beige office space you left behind to pursue the free life you now enjoy (in which case I worry for you), as long as it helps you be creative and productive- anything goes! Just be sure to check with your landlord about the rainbow if you happen to rent…
Keep It Clean
The importance of this pointer is likely to vary from individual to individual, though I for one have found the benefits that come along with keeping a clean and tidy working area to be huge. Try to avoid introducing items from other areas of your life into your office, and always make sure to tidy up the debris left behind from lunch! Staying on top of things rarely takes much more than a quick tidy at the end of each day, just as would be expected of you in any other office.
Whilst the quality (and personality) of your home office-space may seem insignificant when starting out; it won't take long for you to realise the importance of having somewhere to work in which to escape the many, many distractions throughout your home that are crying out for your attention every day. Working from home only allows you to take out what you first put in, so it is extremely important that you have a workspace to enable you to put in the necessary effort.