How do you create a productive work environment in a small home?
I live in a fairly small condo and don't have a separate office. I typically use our kitchen table as my office, but I always feel like my family and work life are mixed together and that my family is always stumbling over my work stuff. How do others create a separate work space in a small home?
I have a separate room for my office (and my wife's), if you don't have room for that get your own work table and screen off the area. That way when you walk out of the room or from behind the screen you can leave your work at work and have time for your family without them stumbling over your work stuff.
I experience almost a similar situation...but I look to enjoy it on every second because when I made the decision to work mostly from home I knew what it would happen. And in my case, I needed this. Listening to and seen who cares for me, and whom I love most, on a frequent basis motivates my work. I set the time to be "home" and to be "working".. they learned to understand it...they love to see mommy working but at home.. so I got less phone calls daily lol. Tell them what are you up to.. make visible your calendar, pay someone to take care of extra stuffs on critical days if needed and learn a little bit of emotional intelligence. You can create a separate work area even when you think you are all mixed up. Things are what you think.
You'll need to find a separate area. I currently use our bedroom and try to keep the door locked while the boys are home from school. I also have a good set of headphones, preferably noise canceling. Need to also find a good schedule, it's easy to just let the day get away from, while, when you were in the office onsite somewhere you had a set routine. Develop a time you can get away everyday, like you would for a lunch break. Go to the local coffee shop, deli or just go for a walk. Your home is your office now and even though you may find it comforting, you can often feel like a rat in a cage if you don't separate your work-home from your home-home.
Well, that's quite simple because most of the problem resides in your head. Try to make a desk that is not the kitchen table. Any wall with a piece of wood attached to it can do. Try to NOT to work all the time by having "business hours"and wearing head phones while working. Tell your family about it and it will be ok. I say that because me and my husband work right next to the kitchen (with no walls)...in a very small home. It works just fine.
I'm temporarily housed at a friend's with only one small bedroom for sleeping and working. A feng shui consultant friend suggested I separate my "working space" from my "living space" by putting all work-related items at one end and bedroom-related items at the other. So, the desk, computer, 2-drawer file cabinet, etc., got pushed to one end, bed and dresser to the opposite side. I then split the bookcase down the middle by separating my personal/fun books and from the business ones.
Maybe that all sounds silly, but it actually made a difference.
Some great ideas already! I work from home but unlike many others I don't have a separate area to work. I have two little boys which makes it even more crazy!! I work off the kitchen table, out in our back area, at cafes, parks - wherever works! I have 3 days a week that they aren't at home so those days i have the quiet at least but I still find myself working in those places (except the park!). I like being able to be mobile - I use everything online and try to keep the "paper" stuff to a minimum which is better for everyone. But I still have stuff my boys want to get into and draw on, Etc and they think mummy's printer is the best toy ever...3.5 years into my business and it just works! I prioritise and I always write lists (physical or on my mobile) every morning to plan out what I need to do so I know I complete the important things but also it gives me a sense of accomplishment, even if it is only little things that I have completed. It all helps to keep motivated. Hence the 5am comment here!! Hope that helps :)
Good to start from somewhere. It is your responsibility to draw the lines and make your family realize that the office space is the source of income.
Having it as a room with doors would help in curbing distractions.
The family Kitchen is not a very good place to work. Kitchen is normally the hub of the home and family. Therefore, it's a natural place for your family to gather. They are not in the way - you are. If you are serious about your business, you need to be serious about your work-space. Common family areas are common family areas. Carve a corner dedicated space in your own bedroom, find room in the attic, work out on the deck. There are also business networking clubs that allow you to work out of the home for several hours a week. Those networking clubs also have the advantage of providing business meeting opportunities.
When I was taking my college courses to become a virtual assistant we discussed setting up an office. One thing you must do is set aside a work area that is dedicated to working. If you have other people living in the home, then find a corner of a room that is separate from the main household and set up a small work area in that room. A spare room is ideal as then you can set it up as a small office. If you have an attached garage, this could be used as an office as well. This idea would be great if you have walk-in traffic. There are many possibilities.
I would have to say having some sort of dedicated space where you can focus on work. I try to set aside a specific time where I am allowed to really focus on work. That may or may not be difficult in your home, but it is definitely possible. I definitely try to utilize nap time effectively as well. Add a spouse who is adjusting to life in America and a very energetic, highly intelligent 2 year old and you have a very interesting situation. Trust me, you are not alone in the fight!
I was born in a very small home. The irony is: to make it even smaller / cosier. Believe it or not, you'll find yourself working out of a rolodex briefcase, and wrapping up in a blanket / hoodie, sipping hot / cold beverages / soup from just one large cup.
Echoing what the others have said. I work from home about 30 hours/week. I have my office in a downstairs room, separate from the rest of the family. When I close the door, I'm not to be bothered unless it is an emergency. What's more important is maintaining the discipline to work at home. I'd also recommend you get up every 60-90 minutes. Take a stroll around the block. Go out for lunch. You need to get out of the space regularly so you don't begin to feel closed off from the rest of the world.
Its all about organization. Know where your stuff is, and when its due and keep track of your clients. Sit your children down and explain to them this is daddys work and its not to be touched or played with. Crate a work board for your wall if you can, it will help you keep track of deadlines.
You can also always go mobile. Get yourself a laptop, or a iPad, and live in a local starbucks. I started out that way myself, and i found it very easy to do business. Plus - free wifi. ;)
I have my office in my bedroom, however I have it set up so that it nonetheless is my workspace. Beyond hosting the bed, the bedroom has my desk, chair and my library of business books and other related materials. My wife is understanding about it because we have two kids and they take up the other spaces we'd otherwise have. If possible I'd recommend setting up a desk and workspace that feels dedicated to that purpose.
Is your family there all the time? Aren't any kids in school during prime business hours?
When I started my business, I lived in a one bedroom apartment and set up my office in a corner of my small living room. Granted, no one else lived with me at the time, but it was still a small space that had to be wisely managed to keep work and personal life separate. I'd actually feel myself "step into" my work space every morning, and leave it when I chose to stop working for the day. It's a mental process as much as a physical one, and as Balint notes, you may be able to combine the two in a way that is harmonious for all involved.
Another solution would be to simply store your work materials each evening: have a file drawer or other dedicated area, and place all your business information in a secure place where no one will "stumble over your stuff" and accidentally disrupt a project in progress.
A note about pets: if you have animals, definitely ensure that any work-related materials are safe from curious fur or feather friends' exploration!
Hope this helps. All the best to you ~
Have you ever thought about doing some of your work at a cafe or at the local library? Also, I agree with Gary, setting up a small workstation in your bedroom and communicating your office hours with your family could be very helpful.
I have a completely different view on it. Your need for separation (work and family life) comes from the thought that work and family should be separated (even if there is no space for it) for they own good. This reflects that you are a good guy, who cares about harmony within the pack. But you can easily go on the other way: try to maximally involve your family in your work progress. It is proven that normal family background provides you a harmonic way towards creation. I suggest you to find or work out a way or method to get family and work together. If they are involved and motivated, they never will stumble on your work again, because it will become their work as well. So you can have harmony, creativity, family and money making together :)
It's all about establishing boundaries. If you allow your family to "always stumbling over your work stuff," then they will continue to do exactly that. There's work time and there's family time and these are separate things, and it helps to express this dichotomy to one's family members.
You should have a dedicated space where you can separate from the family when you need to focus. If you don't have a spare room to set up a desk, try setting up a workstation in your bedroom. Make sure the family knows when it is office hours, then set up a good system for time management. Here is a blog I did on Time Management:
You Can’t Manage Time but You Can Manage Priorities-part 1!
You Can’t Manage Time but You Can Manage Priorities!-part 2
I hope you find it useful!