Getting Office Level Productivity When You Work at Home
Working from home as a freelancer for the last year, I have discovered some interesting strategies to level up my productivity. Overcoming the challenges of sharing a workspace with two dogs and a one year old girl, I have created this list of work at home productivity boosters. Working from my kitchen is not one of them, though that has been my best option for the last nine months. Here are top productivity tips you can take home to maximize your hours behind the keyboard.
Create a separate work space
If there’s one thing I’ve learned working in a space shared with my entire family, it is that you should not share a workspace with your entire family. I am under contract to buy a new house that has four bedrooms, of which one is claimed as my new office space.
The dogs may still be allowed in, but otherwise it is a place my daughter will know not to go when Daddy is working. With fewer distractions pulling on my pant leg saying, “Dada, Dada, Dada,” I’m sure I’ll be able to get quite a bit more done with a locked door between us.
The new house also has a giant laundry room on the other side of the garage, which gives me a quiet place to go without shared walls to rooms with kids if I need to record a podcast in a quiet space. Depending on your work style and needs, your office space might look a lot different than mine. Just make sure it is designed to help you do your best work.
Build an effective workstation
In my Fortune 500 financial analyst days, I spent my work hours at a desk with two monitors, a detached keyboard and mouse, and a setup made just for people working at a computer. Compare that to my kitchen table, and there is no wonder I am less productive! I sit at a dinner chair with a laptop. That is no way to work.
My new office gives me the room to go back to a two monitor setup. I’ve been eyeing some deals for a pair of matching 21.5″ to 24″ monitors on Amazon, like this one here. Though I can’t say I’m not a little tempted to go for the 32″ screens for some serious digital real estate.
I also plan to keep my video gear setup full-time, go back to a detached mouse and keyboard with a docking station, and set up my desk to get as much done as possible as quickly as possible.
Invest in the right office gadgets
A productive office requires more than a room and a desk. A home office should be recognizable as a workspace and have everything you need to do your job to the best of your abilities. That means spending a little money on the tools that help you get your job done.
For me as a freelance writer, my needs are mostly met by my trusted Macbook Pro, but I still need to print, scan, and take care of a little bit of paperwork from time to time. After my experience with a variety of printers, I am ready to upgrade to something new when I land in my new office. Here are a few other odds and ends I plan to add to my office:
All-in-One Laser printer – I have used both laser and inkjet printers, and now firmly believe in laser printers as the best option for nearly any home or home office. We currently have a black and white laser printer, and our ink costs have dropped since picking up our current printer. I’m going to upgrade to a color version that gives me easy printing and scanning powers without walking out of the room.
Single cup coffee maker – While I hardly have the patience for my Keurig to warm up when I’m ready to make a cup of joe, I am thinking about stealing it from the kitchen and taking into the office. Maybe my wife won’t notice?
External backup drive – I have a serious love of computer backups, and my new office will hold two copies of almost all of my files. I have a regular old external hard drive and a separate media center PC that will both move to the office, along with the modem and router, to ensure my workspace has the highest power draw of any room in the house.
Ergonomic desk chair – I have a desk chair that is okay, but my wife’s is much more comfortable for a long day. She has volunteered to hand over her office chair for my use, which is very similar to this one from AmazonBasics.
While it is tempting to turn your office into the coolest room of the house, try not to overdo it. Adding too many toys, gadgets, and gizmos might put you into a mood better suited to watch movies than do work. Remove distractions from your work area so you are not tempted to shift your focus elsewhere.
Keeping distractions out of your office is an ongoing challenge. With Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube calling your web browser home, you have enough to keep you distracted without adding more of your own vices to the mix.
Be mobile and flexible
One of the best productivity tools I’ve used to survive the year working at a kitchen table is my own flexibility. I’ve had work sessions in co-working spaces, breweries, coffee shops, cafes, airplanes, airports, conference rooms, restaurants, and even a donut shop over the last year. Being able to sit down, put on my earbuds, and get to work is an important working skill. If you can handle that, you can make it anywhere!