When you’re “Working Naked” — working without the support of the corporate workplace — you face a few challenges. A few of them include how to stay focused and avoid distractions. By taking the time to set up your home office to be efficient or change what’s not working, you can create a productive home office.
- Start with the right equipment. Figure out how much time you’re wasting using old equipment and outdated software. Computer prices fall regularly, so it may be worth your time to buy a new laptop or desktop. The money you’re saving by not buying new equipment may be costing you in lost time and productivity.
- Turn four machines into one. If you’re still using a separate printer, fax, scanner and copier, use an all in one machine instead like Brother’s inkjet MFC-J615W unit. You’ll save space and money by combining machines and you’ll save time maintaining only one machine, not four.
- Install software that’s easy to use. Before you buy and download any new software, try it out for a month. Most software companies offer a free, 30-day trial period.
- Designate a specific place to store extra supplies. The tendency is to store supplies wherever they’ll fit. Instead, store them where you will find them easily, such as on shelves or in a closet.
- Set a cut-off time for surfing the Web. You know how it goes…you watch one video and then click on links to a related video. Or you read an article that links to another and an hour later, you’re still clicking on links. Set a timer for 30 minutes, click on all of the links you want, and when the timer goes off, get back to work.
- Get into a routine. Be flexible, but for the most part try to get to your home office at the same time every day. If you have specific tasks to handle, add them to your calendar. Treat time to work on tasks the way you would an appointment, and keep them.
- Divide your day into blocks of time. Rather than jump from project to project, designate certain blocks of time for different activities. During a one-hour segment, answer e-mails, while during another segment handle marketing tasks.
- Set up electronic folders within your e-mail account to organize incoming e-mails by individual, client or project. You’ll save time when you look for past e-mails and you won’t have to sort through old e-mails to find the new ones.
- Develop the urge to purge. Some people keep information “just in case” they need it one day. The problem is that when they need it, they can’t find it. Get in the habit of keeping only the papers or supplies you know you’ll refer to or use again. Something is worth keeping only if you’re able to locate it within minutes instead of within hours.
It takes time to set up a home office with function and productivity in mind, but the time you spend planning ahead, will help you save time in the long run.