A home office is a personal thing, even if it's a place primarily devoted to business. There's no one way to keep a home office that is effective for every single person who works from home. This is especially true because it's supposed to be a space that enhances your focus on any project you're doing. For example, a fiction writer might want a workspace that feels highly creative and open, but someone in sales might prefer something simple with strict lines and elements. However, no matter the type of business you are in, almost all home offices need to include certain features that enhance productivity. Here are some tips that can help you identify what to improve in your home office, or help you tweak your existing system.

1. Define what works best for you.

Think about what works for you in both personal and business settings. Some people work better with background music playing. Others need complete silence without any distractions. One may thrive in a scattered area, while someone else prefers a neat and tidy desk. It's important that you consider how you function best and then make sure to include those elements in a way that doesn't create chaos for anyone else who might be in the home while you work. For instance, if you like music, but someone else in the house prefers silence, you may need to invest in a decent pair of earbuds. If you work best amid chaos, and your desk is really the kitchen table, take the time to section off a small area of your own so that you can make the distinction between work and home without disrupting everyone else who needs the table. In the meantime, consider moving your space away from a busy room like the kitchen if other family members don't like you taking over an area that should probably "belong" to everyone.

2. Create a schedule that works for you, even if it's odd.

One of the usual perks of working at home is that you can usually create your own schedule. Some people however still insist on working with schedules that do well for others instead of themselves. If you work better in the quiet evening hours, then that's when you need to set your office hours. If a split shift helps you to ensure that you can manage your business and your household, then work a split shift. The hardest thing to do is put aside the status quo, but it's often the best thing you can do for yourself, your family members, and your business.

3. Get the right tools.

Maybe when you first start out, you have no choice but to use tools that are less effective than you would like, because that's what you can afford. If that's the case, then do what you have to, but make sure you're putting something aside to eventually get the tools that really work. For instance, instead of spending money on word processing software, download a free version or use Google docs. Then, put that money toward a decent printer or other software that you may need. It can sometimes take a lot longer to get things done without the right tools, so you could potentially be wasting time and money using insufficient tools to run your home office.

4. Set limits.

It's important to set limits with your clients, friends, and even your family if you want to make your home office work for you. Otherwise, you will be pulled in all sorts of directions. The office is not a family space and your family room is not the place to take business calls. Set physical boundaries if you need to so that you can focus on what you should be doing, but also so that you can get into the right mindset when you go from one area to another.

5. Invest in houseplants.

Yes that's right I'm including a section on houseplants. Haven't you ever heard of feng shui? Having other living things in your workspace (that don't distract you) can be beneficial to your health. Studies have shown that houseplants in offices boost productivity and happiness. When it comes to making your home office work for you, it will be crucial that you spend some time creating a space that is comfortable for you and provides the best setting for productivity. Sometimes, it's as simple as adding a houseplant to the office. Also, in case you didn't know, there are a wide variety of plants that actually clean the air around you, so don't be afraid to get yourself the gift of a plant this holiday season.

Published on: Nov 22, 2016
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