Sunday, April 19, 2009

Organizing Your First Home Office-Part I and Part II

Part I-Organizing Your First Home Office-The Essentials

Working from home is much different than working in a typical office environment. For starters, you don’t have to get out of your pajamas and into the rush hour traffic. Nor do you have to race to the office to get the prime parking spot and no one is standing over you monitoring your actions. On the flip side, you have no official work space which typically encompasses a computer, a desk, chair, office supplies and phone. So where do you start? Organizing your home office can be a daunting task so let’s make it as simple as possible.

For starters you will want to make sure you have the following items:
1. Phone and phone line dedicated to your business only. Try to get decent long distance rate as well as international rate. If your international rate is more then .10 a minute, then call your provider and ask them if they can do better than that rate. Most often they will to keep you as a customer!

Also, invest in a headset to plug into your phone handset. This is especially handy if you will be on the phone for the majority of your work day. The headset will allow either typing notes or jotting down notes while you on the phone.

2. Dedicate a computer that is used primarily for your business. Although this can be expensive if you have to buy a 2nd computer, it is well worth the investment. Most often homes will have one computer for the family to use. Keep your children’s computer games and programs on another system so it doesn’t tie up the space on your computer. Additionally, if your children dont' use your work computer then you can’t blame them when something crashes, like your database!

3. Use a desk that is big enough for your computer, phone, and small desktop file holder. Try to keep your work separate from an area where everyone’s hands might touch.

4. Buy a box of file folders and a label machine. You don’t need a huge file cabinet so get a 2 drawer file system. This will be enough to house important files and any new file folders you create in the first 6 months.

5. Purchase basic office supplies such as: a spiral bound notebook, pens, pencils, stapler, scissors, printer paper and pen caddy.

Part II- Organizing Your Work Day 101

Once you have your work space and supplies ready to go you are set for your first productive day. How your organize yourself and work load determines your productivity and end results. Remember; keep your day simple and uncomplicated.

1. Shower and get ready as if you are going to work. I am not suggesting that you put on a suit and tie, but get out of your pajamas or workout clothes. When you make calls in your pajamas you may not be as professional as you would be if dressed and ready for the day.

2. Create a to-do list each night before you go to bed in your spiral bound notebook. Use this notebook for everything, your to-do lists, notes you may take while on the phone and so on. Keeping it all in one place will eliminate sticky notes on your monitor or losing notes with important information on it. Feel free to create two to-do lists; one for work and one for you personally. Even though you can store this information electronically, I still like to keep it all in a spiral bound notebook. There is something to be said about actually crossing an item off your to-do list one by one.

3. Set office hours. This is very important lesson that took me five years to implement. My office hours are from 9am to 3pm everyday. That doesn’t mean I don’t work before or after those time frames, but it gives me a dedicated time frame to do the majority of my work. I make calls in a timely manner in all time zones, answer email, and get projects done.

4. Don’t be afraid to take time out for lunch. Just as you would do at the office, take a half hour and eat lunch away from your desk. When you work from home, your time isn’t being monitored, the end result is. How you get from point A to B is your business. The final product or completed project is the end result.

5. Keep your workspace neat and organized. Even if being organized isn’t second nature for you, work on it every day. The more organized you are, the better time manager you will be. The better time manager you are, the more efficient you will be and in control of balancing your workload and personal life.

6. Instead of papers placed in piles across your desk, use your file folders. Clearly mark each file folder and place the files in a very accessible place on your desk. You can use a decorative magazine rack for your must-need files or get yourself a desktop file caddy. Once you start the “pile” system on your desk it is hard to break away from that. Start out with files that are clearly labeled and you won’t lose anything.

7. Set your appointments so you are out of the office for a full day instead of staggering appointments through the week. If you have to travel to see clients, try to set up all client visits on one side of town on Thursday’s each week. For example, you are on the north side of town on Monday’s, the south side on Wednesday’s and so on. I found it is hard to get back and stay on task if I have various appointments scattered throughout the week. When I have a bunch of appointments scheduled in one day, I am prepared to be out of the office for a day and adjust my work load accordingly.

Make your day in your home office Simple and you will acheive Amazing results!


  1. Thanks for the tips! :)

  2. great tips!!! bummed I have to get out of my jammies though!