The five biggest blunders you can make in your home-office setup and how to avoid them
Blunder #1: Using the wrong room as your office. Whatseems right and what feels right can create an internal battle andaffect your productivity. For example, if it seems right to use aspare bedroom as an office but you feel better working at yourkitchen table, stop to consider why. Is your kitchen bright androomy while your spare bedroom is too dreary and cramped? Make thenecessary changes to the room you choose, keeping in mindyou'll be spending a lot of time there.
Blunder #2: Not planning for long-range wiring needs.When you first open your home office, you may need nothing morethan a business line and a fax/modem line. As your business grows,however, you'll need additional lines for incoming calls anddedicated lines for your fax, modem and electronic equipment.Getting direct Internet access via your cable company alleviatesthe need for a modem line, but you'll still need the capacityto accommodate additional lines and outlets.
Blunder #3: Lack of storage space. "Starterfiles" and office supplies occupy little space, but as yourclient list grows and you get more projects, your storage needswill increase dramatically. Determine how much information or howmany supplies you need to store now, and estimate how much storagespace you'll need down the road. Ideally, you should store allthis information within your home office rather than scatteredthroughout your home.
Blunder #4: No schedule. When you work at home, it'seasy to sleep late, work late and get distracted. Distraction isfine to a point. But if you're spending more time sidetrackedthan on track, it's time to reevaluate what you're doing(or, in this case, not doing). Set a flexible schedule with twomain elements: a starting time and a quitting time. Make it easy toquit at the end of the day by shutting your home-office door, ifpossible, and leaving it closed until the next day. Walking by anoffice with an open door can be an invitation to work all nightlong.
Blunder #5: Lack of a planning system. At first, runningyour business by the seat of your pants may seem feasible, butyou'll quickly find the flaws in this approach. Although youshouldn't want to wait for the world to come crashing downbefore establishing a system, don't feel pressured to invest ina traditional paper-based planner, electronic organizer orcomputerized system. Instead, find a method that works foryou--even if it's keeping notes in a spiral notebook andmonthly calendar. The key: Whatever system you choose, use itregularly.