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Home office organisation basics

Jan 9, 2011 | The Home Office | 0 comments

Work at Home Writers licences this article as a free reprint as long as all links remain intact and the article is unedited.  For edited or commissioned guest articles/blogs please contact D Kai Wilson-Viola via our contact form. This notice can be removed, but the bio should remain in place.

One of the biggest challenges writers, or anyone that works from home face, is thier home office.  There are lots of things to take into consideration, from where to situate it, to organising your paperwork and more.
In this series of articles, we’re going to talk about all of this, with a couple of things that most people don’t think about when setting up a home office besides.

First up – what do you *really* need?

One of the key mistakes people make when planning a home office is looking at space and then cramming themselves into it – or conversely, not thinking through everything they need and then discovering they’re scattering themselves over several rooms to accomplish it.
So, think about what you really need.  Do you *need* a sprawling desk or can you fit your work into a smaller area? More importantly, if you do need a lot of space, do you *always* need that space?  In the case of people who work from home making products, you might need quite a lot of space that can be condensed down, or alternatively, you might have machinery that doesn’t compact well.

Choosing your space
In most homes, there are areas that have to serve dual functions – in our house my home office is in one of two places – at the dining room table, where I do most of my paper based work, and in the guest room, where I write and type.  Our filing cabinet, through neccesity, lives in the conservetory, so my home office is scattered througout our living space.  It makes organising my workspace in a traditional sense very difficult, which is why i’ve learned to plan my tasks carefully – but if you’ve got a space room, or area under stairs or even a corner of another room that you can use as your office, that’s perfect.  If you can’t, do what I do, and repurpose areas without changing the ‘flow’ of your house.

Using your diningroom table

One thing I learned, early on, was that using my dining room table meant that I needed to pack up before the kids got home from school, or at least make sure I was using as little of one end of our 10 seat table as possible – if I didn’t, I’d spend time when I was getting tea ready, cleaning up eveyrthing on the table, so I have a rule now – if my paperwork is going to take longer than the time I have between breakfast and tea, or if it’s the weekend, I don’t do it unless it’s an emergency.  I’ll do other bits of prepwork on the laptop instead.
You have to consider a couple of things when looking at your dining room table, or kitchen table – and one of them is how much ‘traffic’ it sees.  Mine is pretty high, to be fair – there’s four of us in the house that use it constantly, sometimes at opposite ends from one another.  Others might find that sometimes their table is entirely ‘free’.  So I’ve taken to thinking of it as a conference room of sorts – and ‘book it’, even if that booking is just a mental one.

Got nowhere at all?

A good way to look at the home office in general that’s ‘shared’ with other duties, is to consider when you’re going to lose it.   I have to plan for visits, because I lose my office then.   It’s not a hardship, I just plan around it.  So if you’ve got no space, consider instead making your ‘home office’ anywhere with a table and some space to keep a filing cabinet.  Can’t even manage a filing cabinet?  Keep some boxes that hold foolscaps and store your paperwork in there.  They stack and can store in many places easily.

D Kai Wilson-Viola is a blogger with a purpose.  She’s owns DigitalSteward LLC, a full service design and copywriting company that offers everything from WordPress support, to grant writing, and lots of things in between.  A parent, blogger and author, she works with her diverse experiences to run Work at Home Writers, a blog which talks about working as a writer from home, whether you’re an author,  copywriter or blogger.

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