I have been working from home since 2008. In my tiny apartment, which I now share with my husband, who also works from home, we have designated spaces for different functions, including a small space for work. Today, I’m going to share with you what our work space looks like and a few tips on how to make working at home a pleasant experience.
Here are my top tips on how to create an effective and efficient work space at home:
- Designate a space solely for work. If you can, build yourself a home office where you can lock yourself in and focus on work. I have a colleague who has a tiny space, about 2 meters, adjoining their master’s bedroom. I thought that was a clever idea. If you can’t afford a home office, like us, buy or have a table made to be used exclusively for work. My father-in-law made our work space (Thanks, Pa!). This should be used exclusively for work and work only. This is so that when you use the table your brain automatically switches to work mode, which is often difficult to do at home. If you can’t afford a table to be used solely for work, for any reason, then use any of your existing tables but make sure it is free from non-work related things when you start working. This is so that you won’t be distracted.
- Always keep your work space organized. I was supposed to write “clean,” instead of “organized,” but a clean work space does not necessarily equate to an effective work space. Some of us don’t need to have a clean work space in order to work well, but all of us needs a work space that is organized according how our brain functions. For organization, my husband and I use boxes (to store chargers), notepads (to write down things), a cord board (to tack important documents), and vases (to group together pens and pencils). Know where you placed your things so that they are easy to retrieve. There is nothing worse than to keep your boss hanging on the other end of Skype line as you frantically look for that document he was referring to. Keep your notebooks and planners at arm’s length so you can jot down notes instantly. Our work table has a shelf underneath where we store our notebooks and all other work-related things.
- Invest in technology and gadgets. This depends on the nature of your work. I am a writer and my husband is an illustrator. We, admittedly, do not have a ton of gadgets. In fact, we only own two laptops (one for each) and two mobile phones (one for each). But we do have a printer/photocopier/scanner that we use for work all the time. Invest in a printer/photocopier/scanner. This gadget will save you a lot of trips to the nearest photocopier or a trip to the mall. In addition, invest in the best (genuine) hardware and software that you can afford. The best means lesser trips to service centers. Trust me, the money you spend on the best technology for your work will be worth every cent. With technology, I also mean non-technological things that would aid you with your work. My husband and I regularly update our library with books, especially reference materials, that are helpful to us in our livelihood.
- Keep your work space well lighted. Take care of your eyes. It is difficult to learn and work with Braille. Our work space faces the window — the only window in our tiny apartment that lets in natural light. We are lucky that despite the tiny space, the window is big enough for a two-seater work table. We open all of the windows while we are working to let in the light and the air, and we made sure our light bulbs are bright so that we won’t be squinting when we need to work at night, or when the day is gloomy.
- Spruce up work work space. I would go for the de-cluttered view. So our cork board is not in front of us, but at the back of our front door, and the flowers that you see in the photos here are not in our work space anymore but at the coffee table behind me. Decorate your work space but don’t over-decorate to the point that the decor will already take your attention away from your work. I love cute notebooks and planners so I buy them. I also make sure our curtains are sprayed with linen spray (we’re currently using Ruby room spray from Metro Gaisano) so that they smell fresh.
- Move around. One of the perks with working from home is your flexibility to work anywhere in your house. You can work in your bedroom, kitchen, and even your comfort room if you so desire. I would occasionally work in our bed when I’m a bit under the weather and in our living room (which is just really one step from our work table). My husband and I also go out on “work dates” to coffee shops to get some sun and interact with real people (although this can take a toll in your budget if done frequently). We wish we have places like WeWork, a network of co-working spaces in the US, UK, Israel, and the Netherlands, here in Cebu. It would be a perfect place for freelancers and home-based workers like us to gather, work, share ideas or a cup of coffee. If you are in the above countries, lucky you, as you can subscribe and check out WeWork’s locations for coworking spaces.
What does your work space look like and what are your tips for an effective work space? Please share in the comments section below, or use the hashtag #homebasedcebu in Instagram!