8 Tips for Separating Office and Home
For anyone looking into purchasing and running a home-based business, it’s likely all you can think of are perks. You’ll get to work from home! You can set your own hours! You can get in 40 hours (or more or less, depending on the nature of your needs) without having to drive to work. Or find parking. Or fight traffic. All of which are valid things to be excited about for anyone with a home office.
But those who have actually done it point out that working from home isn’t all fun and games; there’s a fair bit of cons that can come your way as well. There are distractions: sometimes you want to watch TV instead of work. Or do the dishes and laundry. You’re reminded of all the personal errands you have, and when the house isn’t’ clean, it’s downright hard to concentrate.
The key, however, is to find a balance between the two, and make sure it stays that way – not teetering back toward the heavier side of cons.
In order to keep your work life and your home life separate … even when they’re located under one roof:
8. Keep Work-Only Space(s)
Whether it’s a makeshift closet-made desk or an entire office, you should have some room set aside for running your business. When everything is jumbled together, the same thing happens with tasks, they’re jumbled together. Then suddenly it’s hard to keep track of what’s business and what’s personal, and so on. Instead, set aside a specific location (preferably with a door) and use it only when working. Then when business hours are over, close the door and don’t enter the space until you’re ready for work-related tasks.
7. Home Chores are OK for Breaks
Everyone needs a small break now and then, and it’s ok to make yours personal related. (You’d do the same if you had breaks at works, such as running to the bank or dry cleaners’, the only difference is you don’t have to leave.) Just be sure to keep a schedule or stick to short breaks, that way you aren’t getting distracted and only cleaning when you should be working.
Even if you opt out of chores as breaks, just remember it’s not taboo – a mindset that could lead to more stress than its worth.
6. Settle into a Routine
Just because you’re working at home (or considering working at home) doesn’t mean the workday is any different. You still have a set amount of tasks to get done, and your day should reflect as such. The quicker you can settle into a routine, the easier this will be to accomplish, and the easier it will be to start running an efficient version of your home business.
5. Keep Finances Separate
Just do it. Talk to an accountant if numbers (or financial logistics) aren’t your thing. This will help make things easier in the long run … and it will help you save come tax season. It will also provide protection in the terrible event that someone should come after your money, whether a client or Uncle Sam.
4. Avoid Working Holidays
The same goes for weekends, too. Obviously this is dependent on schedule, but when your spouse or kids are at home and you’re trying to work (even for a small portion of the day), good luck. Not only will they be a huge distraction, you’ll be wishing you could spend the day with them … or at least not working. When looking into a home-ran company, holidays and weekends are often overlooked, but they still sit as of the biggest overlays between working and playing.
3. Keep Your Desk Clean
Doing so improves efficiency. But if you can’t keep your desk clean (we all struggle with this, some more than others), at least keep it free from personal items. Letters, bills, etc. should be kept in a single location, but secluded from work papers. That way you don’t get distracted with one or the other come due dates.
2. Give Yourself a Break
Just because the office is at home doesn’t mean you have to spend all your time there. Set hours and stick to them – if something pops up you should act responsibly, but not by dropping everything just because the desk is close. Operating that way will never allow you any peace, no matter how efficiently your business is ran.
1. Call the Office the Office
Even if it doubles as a spare bedroom, or a storage room, to whatever else there isn’t space for in the rest of the house. It’s still the office … with a secondary purpose of [fill in the blank]. Making this distinction might seem insignificant, but it can act as an efficient way to differentiate between work and personal, even if it’s subconsciously.