I’m a freelance writer working entirely from home. And I’m breaking almost all of the rules touted by the “experts.” What I’ve learned is that there is no one right way to set up your home office. There are some must-haves as far as technology goes, but most of the rest is up to you. Here are my “rules,” based on what has worked for me:
Find your “thinking corner.”
If you search “home office,” you’ll find all kinds of resources telling you that your work space should be just for work rather than a multi-purpose space that you also use for cooking, eating, doing homework, folding laundry, etc. But I call you-know-what on that. You need to work where you’re most comfortable. For me, that’s my kitchen. I do have an unusually large “desk” – a four-foot-deep chunk of granite that’s more bar than counter – but I’d work from my kitchen even if I had to do it at the kitchen table. That’s because my kitchen is my home base. You’ve got one, too – you just need to identify it. Where do you go when you need to think your way through a problem? Or when you really need to concentrate on something? Got it? There…that’s your home office.
Make it yours.
What did you like least about working in an office? Did you long for silence so you could think? Or did you wish your co-workers didn’t complain when you blasted Pandora? This is your chance to have things the way you want them. If you think best with the TV on in the background, do it! The same goes for your work space. One article I read suggested keeping photos of your family by your computer. If that works for you, great! But I have to have a clear work space, with nothing on it but my phone and my laptop. If there are other items I might need during the day, they go behind me on the kitchen table (or anywhere that’s not in my line of sight). That’s the beauty of working from home: as long as you get your work done, you don’t have to please anyone but yourself.
Find your conference room.
If you’re working at home, you’ll probably need to video conference at some point (some people do it every day). I do it in the same place I write, but my need for a clear work space makes that practical. If you’re more comfortable working amidst piles of laundry or curled up on a window seat, that’s fine…but your colleagues don’t need to see it. You need a space that looks professional. It needs to sound professional, too. That means no screaming kids or barking dogs in the background.
Don’t let all the rules for setting up a home office intimidate you into arranging a space that’s not comfortable for you. The only rule that matters is that you need to be productive. How to achieve that is something only you can answer.
photo credit: Patti Podnar