Advertising
Advertising

31 Simple Ways to Maximize Efficiency in Your Home Office

31 Simple Ways to Maximize Efficiency in Your Home Office

Your home office can be many things: a place to work without interruption; a way to get a bit of a break on your taxes, or perhaps your home office is the source of your livelihood. With so many uses and definitions of home offices, it’s impossible to know just how many are out there in the world, but there are some universal truths about working at home.

One major problem is the amount of time we tend to waste in a home office.

There are many reasons why time seems to slip by unnoticed in a home office, and it’s not usually because we’re so focused and working so hard. In fact, even with our annual pledge around this time of year to be more productive and get more done, work efficiency still lags behind its potential. Admit it—you could be doing so much more in your office to be productive on a given day.

It’s a New Year, and you’re likely already making some resolutions for 2013. Why not make the bulk of your promises to yourself something that will help you in the long run? After all, boosted productivity in that home office usually means two things: higher earnings, and more time away from the office. How much time are you wasting getting ready to work? Or “catching up” on other things before you really get busy? Wouldn’t you rather be making a profit or using that extra time to do something fun and rewarding outside of your career? It’s amazing how much is possible when you simply maximize efficiency in your home office.

1. Claim a Space: If you haven’t done so already, your first step to a productive home office is to actually get an office. You need to have a spot in your home that is yours alone and ready for work anytime that you are. This shouldn’t be your family computer room or a laptop that usually lives by the couch. Carve out space for a small desk—you can even convert a closet into a clever office if you have a bit of experience with hand tools.

2. Clean Out Distractions: Once you have your office established, get rid of anything that might be distracting or negative in the space. Keeping your treadmill by the desk, for example, might drive you crazy thinking about working out—and how you should do more of it—instead of working. The same can be said for televisions or other household items that may prove to be distracting.

3. Personalize Your Space: Since this is your desk or work area, it should be personalized so that you feel comfortable in the space. Your home office may need more than just a desk and chair: for instance, if you spend time reading manuscripts or long documents, consider an armchair in the corner with a good lamp. A large table may be necessary as well if you often spread papers out or hold client meetings at home. Once you have your space set up to your liking, you’ll be able to move more quickly though the space and put it all to use.

Advertising

4. Establish Work Hours: To truly maximize your work hours, you should have set working hours. You might work a “typical” schedule of 8 to 5, or perhaps you’d rather shorten your hours since you’re being so efficient and work only 9 to 3 every day. Unless you have a parent company dictating your availability, you get to set whatever sort of hours you’d like.

5. Maintain Your Hours: It’s not enough to have your hours; you have to maintain them as well. Be sure to be in your chair, working, at 8 in the morning and call it a day around 5 if that is your set time. You may realize you can adjust your hours later to be more efficient for you, but don’t make it a habit of stretching out your hours—it just invites wasted time.

6. Separate Work and Home Computers: Not only is this required if your want to claim a home office deduction on your tax return, but you should keep work and play areas separate anyhow. Buy an inexpensive laptop for your family to use as the household computer, and keep your work computer off-limits. Not only does this protect confidentiality, but it also allows you to work and focus without interruptions.

7. Test Different Time Frames: If you’re working on maximizing efficiency, and you’re not bound to a particular work schedule, consider using different time frames to see when you feel most productive. You may find that the early morning is more productive; starting work at 4 or 5 am, for example, and finishing up by noon. Alternately, you may prefer a night schedule away from the distractions of the day.

8. Check Email Three Times: Email is one of the greatest time-sucks in business. To minimize this distraction, simply close your email program. Don’t even open it (unless your boss has said otherwise, of course.) Work with your email closed and check it only three times a day: about an hour after you’ve started work for the day, just after lunch, and before you close up shop for the day.

9. Install Blocking Software: There are programs that help you stay on track while you’re working. If you have a habit of wandering off to check out the news or you feel compelled to just peek in on a favorite forum during work time, downloading a program that will block those sites that waste the most time can be a huge advantage.

10. Use Online Timers: Another great feature online is the digital timer that’s available for your computer. Set a timer like CookTimer or FocusBooster, and then you can get working without  also trying to keep an eye on the clock. Allow yourself an hour on a particular project and break things up with your timer, or set the timer to alert you to other obligations like picking up the kids from school, so that you have minimal distractions.

Advertising

11. Plan for the Long Term: Rather than getting organized for the day and working just on your list of things for a few hours, plan over the long-term so that you can see how big projects need to be broken up and when other obligations may interfere with your regular work hours. Knowing in advance means you have more time to plan around distractions.

12. Use Online Calendars: Make a special calendar in Outlook or use a specific Google Calendar to keep track of all your regular work in your home office. This may also be synced with your regular office computer and various personal devices to keep you up to date on meetings, phone calls, projects and any number of items. The more you record in your calendar, the more prepared you are every day to simply check things off a list.

13. Work Small, Big, Small: When you sit down to work every day, set yourself up in a particular pattern that is different from your typical routine. Start with a small project—other than checking email—and then after the small task is complete, move into your biggest task of the day. Once that one is finished for the day, cool down again with a few small tasks to wind the day down.

14. Leave Work Ready for Tomorrow: Make it a point to never leave the office without being prepared for the next time you sit down to work. This may be as blatant as opening up the document you’ll need first thing in the morning, or as subtle as making a quick to-do list in Outlook or Notepad and leaving that on the screen. A small paper notebook can serve the same purpose. Having work ready when you sit down means you get started faster and have fewer distractions.

15. Utilize To-Do Lists: As mentioned above, a daily to-do list can be a huge time-saver. While you’re working on Monday, jot down the various things you need to do on Tuesday as they come to mind. Often, your working mind will have these things ready and sorted out, whereas coming in cold on Tuesday would mean warming up and thinking of them in the moment. Using a to-do list from the previous day—or even the previous hour—means jumping into tasks and skipping the mental memory workout.

16. Unplug Your House Phone: If you still have one, unplug your house phone during the day. If you have children or others who may call with an emergency, turn the ringer down and leave caller ID visible. This is true of your cell phone as well; when a call comes in, glance at the caller ID to determine if it’s important. If it’s not crucial, let it go to voicemail—you can deal with it later.

17. Take Breaks: Generally, we are most productive for about an hour at a time. Break your work up into hour long blocks if you can, or at the very least use a timer to let you know when you’ve worked an hour. Once you get to that hour mark, hop up, fix yourself a drink, do some stretches and get the blood moving again. Take just a few minutes to move around, and then sit down and get back to work again. Long breaks tend to cause a loss of focus.

Advertising

18. Limit Work Hours: If you’re used to working an eight-hour day, you may find that working at home, without the distractions of the office, is much less time-consuming. Try shortening your day first to seven hours, and then six. You may realize that you can get the same amount of work done in four hours once you buckle down and focus.

19. Reward Yourself: Rewards are highly motivating, even when we’re just rewarding ourselves. Set up a system where you get to have a longer break during your day for the sort of things you generally enjoy wasting time with. For example, you might take the fifteen minutes after lunch to surf the net and read the news, or take fifteen minutes after you’ve done four hours of work that morning. Knowing that you’re working up to a fun break will keep your energy up.

20. Keep a Household To-Do List:You’re probably already keeping a work to-do list, or you should be, but it’s also important to start another to-do list on your desk, even if it’s just on a sticky note or in a small notebook. The point of this to-do list is to take all the stuff that jumps in your head out of your mind so that you can focus. For example, if you find yourself thinking about making cupcakes later for your child’s class, simply jot down “make cupcakes” and you don’t have to think about it anymore—more brain power for work!

21. Make a Work Playlist: Music can do a lot to motivate you while you’re working. If you have songs that pep you up and get you motivated, make your own playlist. The trick here is to make a playlist that is upbeat and invigorating, but not distracting. If you don’t have your own music to use, try making different channels on Pandora to find the perfect blend of classic rock, smooth jazz or instrumental tunes.

22. Establish a Routine: Within every day, every week and every month you should have a routine. When you have an established routine, you instinctively know what comes next and you’ll be able to transition from task to task easily. For example, you may do bookkeeping tasks on the first Monday of every month, or you might make it a point to update your blog every Tuesday and Thursday morning before checking email.

23. Publicize Your Work Hours: If you work with others routinely, you can cut down on off-hour interruptions and missed opportunities by posting your work hours online. If you use Skype, or another instant messenger, for example, you can set up an outgoing message stating your work hours for others to see. You can also set up an auto-responder to your emails so that clients know you will respond without twenty-four hours or during your scheduled work time.

24. Hire a Virtual Assistant: When you find yourself bogged down in tasks that simply don’t require that much time or effort, consider hiring a virtual assistant. A virtual assistant is the modern equivalent to the secretary of the “olden days”, but much better because he or she is online with you. Outsource some things to your VA as you build up trust in them, and you’ll cut down on busy work dramatically.

Advertising

25. Cut Extraneous Projects: There are many things that small-business owners think of that wind up being time-wasters rather than money-makers. It may be that boosting your efficiency is as easy as cutting out non-profitable portions of your business: streamline your profitable business elements from home, and you can focus on those and eliminate the things causing wasted time and resources.

26. Work Unconventional Hours: If you find that conventional daytime hours are too full of family, doorbells, phone calls and the other mess that are all part of what we call life, consider working unconventional hours instead. This is even easier if you normally work less than forty hours per week—simply shift your hours to the early morning or the late evenings to avoid extra hassles.

27. Consider Childcare: If you’ve been trying to work with children at home, the best home office isn’t going to insulate you from most of your distractions. Consider some form of childcare for a quiet home office, or simply dodge around the distractions by working while your child is asleep or at school.

28. Organize Contacts: If you haven’t already, invest in a good smartphone as your business phone, and then use that phone to store every single number that comes through your business. With all of your numbers carefully stored with names, companies and notes in your contacts, you can make calls effortlessly at any time.

29. Organize Your Computer Files: Searching for documents is not a good use of time or effort. Block off an afternoon on your calendar and just clean off your desktop and sort through your files. Once you have everything clean and organized, back them all up, or consider storing files in a password-protected cloud application so that they are safe and available at any time.

30. Keep Paperwork Clean: No matter how much of your business you do online, there will still be physical paperwork to handle. Make a special drawer of files for business paperwork and stay organized. File papers immediately to store them or place action-items in a special tray to be included in your work day. Shuffling through papers can be a huge distractions, so handle paperwork only once or twice during your work day.

31. Include Weekly Clean-Up Efforts: Finally, once you have things down to a system of schedules and minimum distractions, keep up your organization efforts by leaving time in your schedule to organize your home office and files. Every Friday, for example, before you shut down the computer for the weekend, consider taking fifteen minutes to organize your newest files on the computer, to take out the trash and to run the vacuum cleaner so that everything is fresh and ready when you come back on Monday.

Often what works for one home office is useless in another. The best way to find what is most efficient and works best in your home office space is to simply try different patterns and routines until you find what makes you feel like you’re working at your very best. You should leave your home office at the end of your busy day feeling accomplished and ready to relax and enjoy your free time—there is no face time in a home office!

 

More by this author

11 Ways Brexit Has Affected Online Shopping Internet Experience 14 Brilliant Hacks to Improve Your Internet Experience Parenting Hacks: 12 Essential Tips for Parents of School-Age Children 31 Simple Ways to Maximize Efficiency in Your Home Office Multi-Tasking Your Morning – 15 Steps to Boost Productivity Before You Start Your Day

Trending in Home

1 10 Small Changes To Make Your House Feel Like A Home 2 30 Awesome DIY Projects that You’ve Never Heard of 3 5 Reasons Why Tidying Your Room Can Change Your Life 4 25 Really Cool Cat Furniture Design Ideas Every Cat Owner Needs 5 Scientists Discover Why You Should Take Off Your Shoes Before Entering Your Home

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on October 23, 2019

50 Habits of Highly Successful People You Should Learn

50 Habits of Highly Successful People You Should Learn

If you’re like me and really into self-development, you’ve probably read many of the thousands of self-help books out there on the market. But also like me, you probably find all the information a bit overwhelming.

That’s why I wanted to do the self-less task of taking the most important, life-changing lessons I’ve drawn from these books and condensed them into fifty key points.

Here’re 50 habits of highly successful people you should learn:

1. Believe It to See It

Our minds tend to focus on what’s happening around us and refuse to see what could happen. Only when you trust in what’s possible and dare to dream big, big things can happen for you.

2. See Problems as a Wonderful Gift

While others only see problems and give up, successful people use the problem as a lesson to find improvement in themselves or the task at hand.

3. Keep Looking for Solutions

Even if they’re knee-deep in problems, successful people will still put all of their focus on finding solutions.

4. Remember It’s All About the Journey

Successful people are conscious and methodical in creating their own success. They don’t sit around doing the bare minimum, hoping success finds them.

5. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

There’s so much fear on the road to success, but instead of letting that fear control and limit them, successful people do a good job of just forging ahead regardless.

6. Always Ask Productive Questions

It’s all about asking the right questions. Successful people make sure they are questions that will elicit information for a more productive, creative and positive mindset moving forward.

7. Understand the Best Waste of Energy Is Complaining

Successful people know that choosing to see the negative side of things will only create a useless and unproductive state.

8. Don’t Play the Blame Game

Taking responsibility for actions and outcomes is a form of empowerment that you can build your success upon. While the act of blaming others or outside circumstances takes this empowerment away from you.

Advertising

9. Maximize Your Strengths

Not every successful person is simply more talented than the rest, but they do use what they know they’re good at to achieve more successful results.

10. Be in It to Win It

Successful people are busy, productive and proactive. Instead of sitting around over-thinking and over-planning a great idea, they just take a step towards it no matter how small.

11. Know That Success Attracts Success

People who are successful surround themselves and seek out like-minded people. They understand the importance of being part of a team and forge win-win relationships.

12. Actually Choose to Be Successful

Dreaming big is a massive part of being successful even if your dream seems impossible. Ambition is a mindset that needs to be a daily conscious choice.

13. Visualize, Visualize, Visualize!

You’ve got to see your success in your mind’s eye even before it comes. Successful people clarify and get that certainty about what they want their reality to look like rather than being mere spectators of life.

14. Be a One-Off Original

Successful people look for what’s working and then create a unique spin on it. Imitating only regurgitates other people’s ideas with no originality.

15. The Perfect Time to Act Is Now

Waiting for the right time to act is basically procrastination wrapped up in an excuse. Successful people know there’s never a perfect time so they may as well just do it now.

16. Keep Learning, Keep Growing

Continuous learning is the key to a successful life. Whether it’s academic, being a student of life or actionable learning, it’s all about expanding your knowledge and personal development.

17. Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

Successful people have the knack for finding positive aspects in all people and circumstances no matter what.

18. Having a Bad Day? Do It Anyway!

We all have bad moods but it shouldn’t be an excuse to stop everything. Giving into a bad mood just stop-starts your life, slowing success way down.

19. Sometimes Risky Business Is Needed

Calculated risks are a must for success. It’s about weighing the pros and cons while moving forward with that element of trust.

Advertising

20. Accept Challenge All the Time

Dealing with problems head-on is a must to be successful. Successful people also face challenges in order to improve themselves.

21. Make Your Own Luck

In the mindset of a successful person, there’s no such thing as ‘luck’ or ‘fate’. They take control to actively and consciously create their own best life.

22. Ignite Your Initiative

While many people are reactive, successful people are proactive – taking action before they have to.

23. Be the Master of Your Emotions

Being effective at managing emotions is key on the road to success. That’s not to say successful people don’t feel like we all do, but they’re just not slaves to their emotions.

24. Champion in Communication

Consciously working on effective communication skills gets anyone closer to success.

25. Plan Your Life Strategically

Successful people’s lives aren’t a clumsy series of unplanned events and outcomes, they methodically work at turning their plans into a reality.

26. Become Exceptional at What You Do

To become exceptional, you typically have to do things that most won’t. To become successful, hard decisions need to be made and acting on them is crucial.

27. Choose to Live Outside of Your Comfort Zone

While many people are pleasure junkies and avoid pain and discomfort at all costs, successful people understand the value and benefits of working through the tough stuff that most would avoid.

28. Live by Core Values

Successful people firstly identify their core values and what’s important to them, then do their best to live a life that reflects these values.

29. Realize Money Isn’t Everything

Money and success are not interchangeable and the most successful people understand this. Putting money on a pedestal and equating it to success is a dangerous mindset to have. Success comes in many forms.

30. Don’t Get Carried Away

Successful people understand the importance of discipline and self-control and as a result they are happy to take the road less travelled.

Advertising

31. Self-Worth Is Not Tied to Success

Successful people are secure. They do not derive their self-worth from what they own, who they know, where they live or what they look like.

32. Kindness Breeds Kindness (And Success)

Generosity and kindness is a common trait among long-term successful people. It’s important to take pleasure in helping others achieve.

33. More Humility, Less Arrogance

Successful people are humble and happy to admit and apologize for mistakes. This is because they’re confident in their ability. They are happy to learn from others and happy to make others look good rather than seek their own personal glory.

34. Change Opens New Doors

People who are successful are adaptable and embrace change, while the majority are creatures of comfort and habit. They are comfortable with, and embrace, the new and the unfamiliar.

35. Success Requires a Healthy Body

It’s not just how you think, it’s about how you show up for success. Successful people understand the importance of being physically well, not for vain reasons but because being in tiptop condition creates a better personal life for success.

36. Laziness Just Doesn’t Exist

Successful people are never considered lazy. Yes, they can relax when they need to, but working hard is their game.

37. Resilience by the Bucket Load

When difficulty strikes, most would throw in the towel, but successful people are just warming up.

38. Feedback Is Just Another Chance to Improve

How people react to feedback determines their potential for success. Being open to constructive criticism and acting on it to improve is most seen in those who are successful.

39. Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe

If people are hanging out with toxic and negative people, then they need to take a look at themselves. Successful people hang out with others who are positive and supportive.

40. Can’t Control It? Forget It

Successful people don’t invest time or emotional energy into things which they have no control of.

41. Swim Against the Tide

Successful people are not people-pleasers and they don’t need constant approval from others in order to move ahead.

Advertising

42. Alone Time Is Valuable Time

More self-worth means being more comfortable with your own company. Successful people are more happy and see the value in spending time alone.

43. Self-Standard Is Higher Than Most

Everyone has a choice to set high standards for themselves. Successful people do this, which in turn produces greater commitment, more momentum, a better work ethic and of course, better results.

44. Failure Isn’t Rationalized

While many use age, health, lack of time, ‘bad luck’, or lack of opportunity to explain away their failure, the key to success is finding a way to succeed despite facing these challenges.

45. Down Time Is an Important Part of a Routine

Having an off switch and taking time to do things that make them happy is a common trait of a successful person. Take a look at here The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

46. Career Isn’t Who You Are, It’s What You Do

Successful people know their career isn’t their identity. They are multi-dimensional and don’t define themselves by their job.

47. Be Interested in Only the Path of Resistance

While most people look for the easiest way or the shortcut, successful people are more interested in the most effective way. They look for the course of action which will produce the best results over the long term.

48. Follow Through

Many spend their life starting things that they never finish, but successful people get the job done. Even when the excitement and the novelty has worn off they still follow through and finish.

49. Invest in All Your Dimensions

We’re not just physical and psychological beings, but emotional and spiritual creatures as well. Successful people consciously work at being healthy and productive on all levels.

50. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

To obtain success, it’s important to practice what you preach. Successful people don’t talk about the theory, they live the reality.

So there you have it, a summary of what I’ve learned from self-help books. But of course, you need to start taking actions so you will get closer to success too.

More About Success

Featured photo credit: Juan Jose via unsplash.com

Read Next