Being able to work from home sounds like the dream for many people—be your own boss, set your own hours, be there if the kids need you—but it’s not without its challenges.
Many people don’t realize how difficult working from home can be. Some days it can be hard to motivate yourself to work and stay on-task when you don’t have a supervisor looking over your shoulder or expecting your work on their desk. Being your own boss requires enormous self-discipline, focus, and above all, organization.
Here are five ways to keep your home business organized and running smoothly.
1. Have a dedicated office space
Whenever possible, take time to designate one room (or even a large closet) as your office. This space should be quiet, comfortable, and separate from the rest of the house—a location which fosters focus and clear thinking. If you don’t have the space or means to dedicate an entire room to running your business, try to set up a desk somewhere in as quiet a space as possible. Whatever your office looks like, make sure the only thing that happens in that space is work.
2. Treat your work day as a work day
This means getting up, showered, and dressed like you’re going to the office. It doesn’t have to be a suit and tie or a pencil skirt – that’s one of the benefits of working from home, after all – but getting cleaned up and dressed makes it easier to stay “work-minded” all day. As much as possible, remember to stick to your work hours just like you would with a traditional job. Establish the times you’re going to “be at work,” and then stay “at work” during those hours.
3. Take breaks
Breaks are mandated for a reason—they’re humane, and they’re good for you. Our minds need time to rest and refocus. So take fifteen minutes every now and then, and be sure to take a lunch break. Your brain needs that fuel to be efficient and productive. Another perk of working from home is that it’s easier to save money and calories by not going out to eat. One thing you’ll have to be careful about is snacking, however. It’s easy to fall into the grazing habit when your pantry is only a few feet away.
4. Keep your “office” free of personal items
When it comes to paperwork, you want to keep your business and personal things separate. Many people use their home’s actual office as their business office as well – meaning that birth certificates, insurance and mortgage records, bank statements, and so forth are stored in the same room as their business files. If this is true for you, be sure to store the personal and business records in different filing cabinets or at least different drawers. You don’t want to get the two mixed up or misplace client information.
5. Declutter multiple times a year
Some of the biggest causes of office clutter is old invoices, various paperwork, inventory documents, etc. Carve out time at the beginning of each season to go through these things, file what you need, and get rid of what you don’t. This includes old electronics and furniture as well.
Office supplies can often be recycled or upcycled through businesses like TerraCycle, and many electronics can be donated to stores like Best Buy. If you’re looking to hold onto the items but have nowhere to put them, look into self storage. Make sure you’re maximizing your storage space by using proper containers and labeling everything.