Tips for the home office

Every so often I work from my home office. There are both tremendous advantages to this arrangement as well as some drawbacks. What I’ve found after much trial and error is that there are some specific things I need to do in order to be the most productive when working from my home office. I thought I would share this advice.

1. Take a shower

I know this sounds funny, but my meaning is that you should get up and follow your normal routine for actually going into the regular office. The home office needs to be treated as an office, so I’ve found that working in boxers is not as productive. This doesn’t mean you can’t be comfortable, just get yourself in a working mood.

2. Have a dedicated room for your home office

If you don’t have a separate room dedicated to an office, get one. If you can’t do this, I would seriously recommend not considering working from home at all. Again, you need to actually go to the office even if it’s in your home. This separates work from home and you’ll be able to get much more done.

3. Take breaks

I find I work much longer hours from home. The good is that I usually get more quality work done. The bad is that I work much longer hours. Incorporating numerous, short breaks into your daily routine at the home office is much more important than when in the traditional office environment. A myriad of distractions exist in that environment that naturally break up your day. Sometimes, this is not the case in the home office. Ok, for those of you with small children at home, stopping swearing at me.

4. Stay focused

With so many distractions in and around the home, its easy to procrastinate and focus on other tasks. Set out a clear agenda or to-do list the night before or morning of and work towards staying on course. Without a plan of attack, you’ll end up doing laundry and cleaning the house, before actually finishing any important work related tasks.

5. Have a clean work environment

This tip doesn’t necessarily apply only to the home office, but is an important one nonetheless. Clean your desk or work area regularly. Not only does a cluttered work area provide little work to work, but it also provides much distraction.

6. Leave the house

If working at the home office for several days on end, try leaving once and a while to work in a new environment. Some suitable choices are the local coffee shop (try one with free wi-fi like Panera), the library, the park, or a local restaurant.

7. Talk to people

You will still need human interaction. If you don’t get it during the day from phone calls or meetings, be sure to have some social activities outside of work on a regular basis. Any activity works as long as there are people there to interact with.

Well, this really wasn’t a “top ten” list so I don’t have to actually have ten items listed. These are a good start though for anyone considering working from a home office. Hopefully, these tips will provide some useful insight. If you have a tip of your own, please leave a comment.

Tom currently works in developer relations for IBM Watson. A serial entrepreneur, he's been the founder of numerous startups including Investify and StatsMix, a Techstars alumni company. Tom lives outside Boulder, Colorado and in his free time he's an avid rock climber, skier, and trail runner.

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