Last week, we examined David Allen's Getting Things Done as a productivity method. This week,…
How to Set Up Your Home Office for Maximum Productivity
As an entrepreneur or small business owner, you may have to work from home a lot, or you may not even have an office away from the house. If this is the case, you need a home office. Period. Sitting in front of the television with your laptop on the coffee table does not make for a good work environment.
Here are a few things you need to transfer your home into a working office:
You need a dedicated office. As said before, you don’t need to be sitting in front of the television working. Transform an unused room in your house, or part of a room, into your office. Get a desk, a comfortable chair, plants, and preferably some daylight. This space should be for work and nothing else. That being said, you need to make it your office away from the office, complete with photos, stress balls, Star Wars figurines – you name it. It should be inviting; you should want to spend time there.
If you haven’t done so already, buy a wireless router and create a wireless network in your home. Life without cords is amazing, and convenient, too. They’re easy to set up, and in case it’s 70 degrees outside and sunny, you can go out on your deck and still reach the Internet.
No matter how paperless your office is, you’ll eventually need to print something or scan something. Get a printer/scanner (preferably wireless – one less cord to deal with). Instead of needing a fax machine, you can just scan a paper and send it via email.
This really depends on your job, but at the very least, you’ll need a good suite of office applications – Microsoft Office or if you’re looking for free, Open Office. You’ll also need a way to back up the files on your computer. In the past, you’d back everything up to a hard drive, but those can fail. Try online storage such as Microsoft’s OneDrive or Dropbox. You can sync your files with the cloud and still work on them on your computer.
Also find a good browser extension that will keep your mind on business and not on Facebook. Extensions such as StayFocusd restricts the time you spend on frivolous websites. You can control the time spent and the sites subject to the extension; when your time is up on that website, the extension blocks it, allowing you to focus on your work. (This extension only works on Chrome; for Safari, try SelfControl.)
A similar extension called Strict Workflow is even less forgiving. Designed to be a tool of the Pomodoro Technique, it blocks sites for the 25 minutes you’re supposed to be working and gives access to those play sites for your five-minute breaks. Then, it’s back to work.
There are loads of to-do lists out there; some people just use pencil and paper, but if you want something more intuitive, with the ability to assign tasks to projects and set due dates and reminders, you may want to look at some of the web-based lists (some even have phone apps):
Finally, check with your accountant or with the IRS to see what items and costs can be deducted from your taxes when setting up a home office. That’s even more motivation, isn’t it?
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