For over seven years, I devoted myself entirely to the practice of law and working as a corporate attorney.
When year number eight rolled around, with its continued promises of working long, stressful hours at a thankless job, I decided to make the leap out of the legal profession and into the realm of being a full-time freelance writer.
It didn’t take too long to realize that even though my office setting had changed, and I had more flexibility working from home, the long hours only increased.
I had to become even more productive to handle all aspects of the business myself, because I had no dedicated staff to run it for me.
Now that my husband (also self-employed) and I are expecting our first child and have converted our designated home office into a nursery, I was concerned about finding a space in the house where I’d be able to shut out distractions and stay on track during the workday. After all, the goal is to be able to continue working remotely even after I become a mom, right?
Fortunately, working remotely doesn’t have to mean giving up the office environment that is key to concentration and high performance. With a few simple steps, virtually any room in the home can become an effective office away from the office.
Let There Be Light
First things first, I must acknowledge that one of the best aspects of working out of my house is all of the natural lighting! Every room has windows, and if it were up to me, I’d leave them all open and uncovered all day long.
Of course, that’s not always practical or advisable when you’re trying to work, so my solution was to install interior shutters on the windows.
I opted for natural wood shutters (you could also go with painted shutters or faux-wood to cut costs) that have two separate slat portions, one upper and one lower, that I can open and close independently of each other.
- In the morning, I unhook the latch keeping the shutters joined and open them up to their fullest capacity. This allows the maximum amount of light to pour into the room and really helps me get going in the morning.
- In the afternoon, I pull the shutters closed to reduce the heat from the sun. At the same time, I close the top slats and leave the bottom slats open in order to eliminate the late afternoon glare on my computer screen.
- As evening settles and the sun sets, I switch the top and the bottom slats (now the top is open and the bottom is closed) so that I can still enjoy the early evening light as the sun sets. I can maintain privacy inside the home as I start to turn on indoor lights. This option is also great during the day if your window is highly visible from the street.
And now that you know some of my secrets to work-at-home success, here are three different spaces you can adapt to suit your remote working needs.
Transform the Spare Bedroom into a Private Office
Before I became pregnant with my son, our spare bedroom was the perfect location for a home office. With a door that shuts out the rest of world, décor that is less distracting than other rooms in the house, and a clean, uninhabited vibe, a spare bedroom can be the best place to focus on the work at hand.
To transform your spare bedroom into a private office, keep the following suggestions in mind:
- A second-hand desk and comfortable chair can form the centerpiece of your workstation.
- If space isn’t available in the room due to other furniture, consider placing the desk in a closet to create a pocket office that can disappear simply by closing the closet doors.
- Make sure to keep the work area free of clutter, and utilize mobile filing cabinets or desktop paper trays to keep your documents in order.
With these simple steps, your spare bedroom is transformed into an active office with ease.
Turn the Dining Room into a Corporate Control Center
When breakfast is finished, the dining room can quickly be transformed into a corporate headquarters with the following steps:
- Clear the surface of the dining room table and slide it against the wall to create ample workspace.
- Organize the table-top real estate into three distinct zones – a work center, reference center and supply center – to make the workspace more efficient.
- Add in an inexpensive trash can and a dedicated task light to round out space.
By rearranging the furniture and focusing on organization, the breakfast buffet can become a corporate control center in a matter of minutes. Here’s a look at the potential.
Convert the Living Room into an On-The-Fly Work Station
The living room is a natural place from which to work, but there is also a high risk that your work and your personal life will collide here. The key to avoiding this pitfall is to arrange your office space so that you don’t see it when you aren’t using it.
Consider the following if your living room is the best location for your home office:
- Utilize a fold out armoire as a desk that, once closed, will hide your laptop and other work supplies.
- Keep files in a closed cabinet, hidden from view unless you need them.
- Purchase clutter concealing baskets for supplies and place them on a bookshelf for organization.
- Use Wi-Fi internet and Bluetooth speakers to avoid the need for additional cords that create the appearance of clutter. A strong wireless router that’s capable of sending a signal throughout your house can be the most useful investment for working at home that you make.
Working from home has become the new norm, but it doesn’t have to impede your personal space.
Find a room that works for you and focus on making the space clutter-free and organized. In doing so, you can keep productivity at a high level, even when working remotely.