Tips for establishing a work space from home

Setting up your home work environment

If this is your first time working from home, there is a good chance that you don’t have a home office already prepared and stocked with supplies just ready to rock. There is also a good chance that since you’ve switched to working from home you’ve posted up at the dining room table, maybe a laptop or tablet, and notes scattered all over the place. If this is you, how is that going so far?

Frustrating, right? You’re exposed, the kids can see you, the cat can see you, and you’re likely distracted by all manner of things that need to get done around the house you’re just now noticing as you glance around from your seat. It may seem easy to brush it off and just remind yourself that “this is only temporary” but be honest, are you really going to get any work done this way? You need to find a way to seal yourself off for a few hours at a time each day if you’re going to make the time you have productive. If you’re going to be working from home, it may as well yield some results, right?

Now first things first you will need to designate a space in your house as your home office during the day. For some, that will be a spare bedroom, guest bedroom, etc. But maybe you live in a two-bedroom home, one for you to sleep in and the other for the kids? In this case you may need to use your own bedroom as your setup. Clear off space on the dresser to set up your computer or to write on should you not have a desk. You may need to get creative! But just setting up the space isn’t enough; you have to set up boundaries with your family. You may have to agree with your spouse (should this apply, maybe they have to stay home from work due to quarantine procedures) that you will need the hours from 9-4pm with the room to yourself, that in the morning they need to get up, get dressed, take what they need and ‘GET OUT!’ so to speak.

Everyone’s situation is going to be different. Let’s take another scenario. Maybe you don’t have kids, maybe you live alone and have the freedom of your entire house or apartment to get your job done. You should still separate home life from work. If you live in a studio apartment maybe that’s the breakfast nook at the kitchen counter. Don’t just wake up in the morning and expect to stay in bed while booting up the tablet. This leads to my next point.

Dress for success! As they say when you look good, you feel good. This is important so just because you aren’t going out it is wise to still get “dressed up for work” so that you perform well and have a chance to get into the working mindset. Even just the act of getting ready for work can put you there mentally. This is a non-negotiable. It all starts with a good attitude and the right mindset. Also as a bonus if you find yourself on a last minute video conference, you won’t have to scramble to “get ready.” You’ll already look the part.

Now that you’ve got your designated working space, set your boundaries with your family and have your morning routine down you are ready to get to work! Obviously you will need to tweak and adjust things to your life style and living space situation but until you get this set up you really won’t be able to get started knocking it out of the park like you do at the office.

As an added note, I would also recommend keeping either a white board up in your designated space, or having a note pad (or two) in other areas of the house ready to go so that when you’re not ‘at work’ but have a quick thought to jot down you can. Part of having a separate space for work is to separate your work and home life, so that you don’t just let work run you 24/7. It isn’t healthy and your family will appreciate it. Get these ideas written down when they come to you so that you can act on them when you head back into work tomorrow.

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