Mommy-tasking: Setting up your home office
Work-at-home moms need to achieve a balance between working and spending time with their children. This is easier said than done, particularly if your children are young. However with the right office space, organizational tools, planning and ingenuity, you can enjoy the flexibility of working from home while also being productive.
Creating a home office
Working from home is a blessing. You get to spend time with your kids, plus continue to earn income for your family. However, working from home doesn't come without its pitfalls. It's often difficult to set boundaries, stay focused and get organized when working in a non-traditional environment.
Whether you have just recently started working from home or you just need a new space, we've put together these tips to help you set up your home office and be productive while using it.
Separating work and mommy duties
A very difficult task for work-at-home moms is finding the balance between getting the work done and spending time with the kids. Though it might seem difficult at first, you need to set a schedule and stick to it. If your kids are in school, it's a whole lot easier. But for those with younger children, you have to find a way to keep an eye on them while still getting something done. Map out your day and establish a routine that is both productive for you and conducive to spending time with your children.
- Work while they nap: Fortunately, most babies and young kids nap once or twice during the day. This is prime time to get some work done while it's quiet and you can focus.
- Get up early: If you can, wake up an hour or two before your children get up. The flexibility of working at home usually allows you to make your own schedule, and this is crucial to being productive.
- Find help: After establishing your home office, if you find you are never getting anything done, then it's time to do something about it. See if you can work into your budget the cost of a mommy's helper or babysitter for a few afternoons a week. This will enable you to block off some time for work, while not worrying about your children.
- Talk to your kids: Even young children will understand that you need to get things done. Talk to them about mommy's work time and how it's important to not have any interruptions (except for emergencies). Take breaks often throughout the day and spend quality time with your children during these periods.
Take inventory of what you need
Before you run out and start buying file cabinets, storage boxes and office supplies, take inventory of what you really need. You may already have a suitable desk or table that you can repurpose. If you are really short on space, use your laptop computer set up on the desk rather than buying a larger desktop computer. Depending on what type of business you're running, you may need storage space for products, shipping supplies and other items.
Find the right technology for your home office >>>
Find your designated area
It would be nice if we all had a large, extra room to designate as a home office, but that's not always possible. However, with the right furniture and proper organization, you can create a functional, efficient home office in a small space. Walk around your house and locate the best spot for your home office. If you have more than one spare room, consider the lighting, proximity to your children's rooms and other factors.
Think outside the box
If you don't think you have enough room in your home for an office, think again. Here are some easy ways to create space.
- Use a wall screen to split off a portion of a room.
- Hang a table on the wall that can be folded down and used as a desk.
- Create extra space in your guest room by replacing the bed with a sofa bed or futon.
- Look for hidden space, such as under the stairs, in a walk-in closet or in a hallway.
How to turn a small space into a home office >>>
Draw up a floor plan
Grab a piece of graph paper and a pencil, or use free floor-plan software like Gliffy or Autodesk Homestyler. Play around with your design to find the best way to maximize your space by moving around your desk and other components. Keep in mind the location of electrical outlets for your computer and consider that file cabinets need room to open.
Choose the right desk
If you don't need room for much on your desk, consider the OneLessDesk (or their OneLessOffice suite) from Heckler Design. This beautiful, space-saving computer desk is great for functionality and style.
If you need lots of storage space near your desk, consider a wall unit that houses a drop-down desk. This Secretary Desk offers plenty of storage and no assembly. It makes a sleek, space-saving addition to any home office.