Getting organized: Working from home

Working from home can cause difficulties when ones work and home life become entangled.

nava88 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
The writer, born in Israel, earned an MS in TV and radio production in New York. After 25 years she has moved back to Israel. With this move in mind, she studied to become a professional organizer and belongs to the National Association of Professional Organizers. Many people opt to work from home these days. This has many advantages, but it can cause occasional difficulties when ones work and home life become entangled. There are, of course, ways to solve the difficulties so that working from home can be fun. In this article I will deal with and offer suggestions for the three main issues related to working from home: • space and working environment • time management • finance Some of the solutions I suggest may not be suitable for everyone, since people have different preferences, for example, a call from a friend during work hours could be a nice break for one person and destructive for another. I would say that the key word for making work at home do-able is "boundaries." This relates to space, time and finances, as well as making the distinction between work and home from those aspects. The key suggestion for success is separating home and office as far as time, space and finances, so that one does not feel like one is working round the clock. Space It is very important to have an area that is designated for work only, separated from the rest. Many people have a special room for work and still find themselves working in the dining area, for instance. There may be several reasons for this; the designated work room may be too small, one may feel isolated working there, perhaps it has unpleasant lighting which makes it undesirable to work there or perhaps the desk is too messy. If you do have a special room for work it is important that it is pleasant for you to work there. Make sure the walls are painted in a color that suits you and your business; I find light and soft colors condusive to a business environment. When you choose a place for the computer, choose a place where the sun coming through the window does not shine on the computer screen or in your eyes. Make sure you have pleasant and adequate lighting. If you have more than one table in your work room like a desk and a drawing table, it is important to have lighting for each one of them, in addition to a soft ceiling light. If you do work at the dining-room table, make sure you have a specific place for work materials near you during work hours, such as a filing cabinet or drawers with wheels, and a specific place to keep your desk materials during meal times. The living room could be a good place to work in when working at home. If possible choose a spot to set up your temporary office where it does not interfere with household activities. Working environment Your work environment should be pleasant and organized in order to achieve efficiency. Create activity zones for each one of your working activities, like the computer area, mailing area or a place where you see clients. Every item should have a home. This is particularly important when working at home, since your available work area may be limited. For example, a home for all office supplies could be a special cabinet designated for this purpose. Use your surroundings wisely, for example use tall shelves for big files and short ones for small books and brochures. Make sure that everything taken out gets returned to its place after being used. Time Setting boundaries between home life and work life can make the difference in enjoying work at home. Organize your time wisely and according to your business specific needs. For instance if you need to make phone calls to a different time zone, plan your time in advance, so that you don't wind up working regular hours in your own time zone and then more hours in another. Here are a few tips for making this possible: • Plan your meetings out of the home so that they are timed close together or on specific days only. • Set specific times to meet people at your office. • You may ask friends to call you only after work hours or during lunch. • Explain to your children that even though you are at home, you are actually at work and cannot be interrupted. • Plan working hours suitable to you and your work, and stick to your plan, allowing time for other activities. • Set aside time daily for doing paperwork. Choose an hour when there will be little distraction. During this time try not to answer calls or read incoming e-mail. • Designate time for answering e-mails and making phone calls. Finances It is best to keep personal and business finances separately. This is important for your business, so that you can know more accurately what your income and business expenses are. Pay attention to this in order not to get your business and home expenses enmeshed. • Keep separate phone lines for work and for home. If you prefer to use one phone line, estimate in percentages how the cost is to be divided. For example 70% of telephone usage is business and 30% is personal. • Do the same with electricity bills. • Keep separate bank accounts for business and personal use. If that is not possible, record all your income and expenses as "business" or "personal." • Keep personal and business receipts separately. • Consult an accountant regarding tax deductions for business use of your vehicle and home. • Organize your personal and business finances separately. • For both your home and business, record all your monthly income and expenses, divide them into categories and create a planned budget for the following month for both home and office. • Make sure to pay yourself a salary. Finally, working from home can be very rewarding. However, it requires organizing and planning so that one can enjoy the advantages of running a home-based business. The goal is not be to be perfect, the goal is to improve, plan and apply small organizing tips today to become more organized tomorrow. Previous articles:
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