Monday, July 30, 2012

Create Your Optimal Office


When you go into business, take steps that will help you maximize your efficiency. 

First set up your office and keep it organized.  If you are like me, this is more challenging than it sounds.  It means making sure the desk is cleared off at the end of the day, and that you file things periodically, and have a way of dealing with loads of paper.  If you take some time to set up the office so it suits your work style, that will go a long way to creating a comfortable work space.

Essentials to consider for an efficient office include:
1.       Location of Work Space
2.       Desk Organization
3.       Paper Flow
4.       Reading Materials:  Books, CD’s, DVD’s, Trade Journals
5.       Filing Systems
6.       Database
7.       Traveling Office:  purse and/or briefcase, portable file, car desk,  and self-improvement CD’s

Location of Work Space

How will you work in your office?  Will you see clients or customers there?  Will you do mostly paperwork or phone calls?  Can you set it up the way you want it, and at the end of the day, close the door on it?  

Do you have the space to reserve a room for your office?  If not, designate a section of a room that you can separate somehow from the rest of the room.  Can you use a pretty screen or some type of doors to hide it when you are not at work?   I just went on Pinterest and found multiple different options I might not have thought of before.  Explore what might work in your home, and be creative.
Whatever space you are using, calculate the square footage.  You can use your home office, and all accompanying expenses as a tax deduction.[i]  For example, if your square footage were 10% of your total home square footage, you could count 10% of your utilities as a business expense.  Are there other expenses incurred by you that could be part of your business expenses?  Do you have a security system?  Do you pay for house cleaning/office cleaning?  Have you painted the room, or bought new office furniture?  Be sure to check with your accountant, but they may all make your home office more valuable as a tax write off., provided that space is only used for your business.

Where ever in your home you designate as office space, make it an area that you can “go to” as if you were going to an outside office.  Establish your office hours, and stay there and work.  A friend had an office on a closed-in porch.  At 8:00am she grabbed a thermos of coffee, went into the office, closed the French door, and started working.  She allowed herself short breaks during her office time, and she left the office to eat lunch.  In the afternoon, she would either go back into her office, or go out to meetings. 

The big challenge with a home-based business is that it can be approached too casually.  You wander in and wander out, distracted by the dirty floor that needs cleaning, or the laundry that needs doing.  And by the same token, you may find yourself working way too many hours, because you don’t know how to separate out your work from your non-work day.  Having a separate location in the house, may help you resolve this problem.  Post your work hours in your calendar, go to your work space, and when you have completed the day, “close the door” and go home.

Space Design
Do you want to create the best energy in your home office?  Do you want to create a space you WANT to spend your day working in?  In a corporate office, you may not have many choices, but in your home office, have fun.  Make it an extension of your personality.  I found some funky storage bins at Target, and they inhabit my shelves adding color to a dark space.  I added a Scentsy candle holder, and a colorful bench for guests, that also holds extra stock business cards, and paper.  My iPod is on the desktop, and I added good lighting. 

Feng Shui is a popular tool to determine where and how to set up your in-home office:  there are tons of books on the topic if you want to use the principles to help decide how to set up your office.[ii]  One thing comes through loud and clear in all of the books on Feng Shui:  keep your space as clutter free as possible.[iii]  As Karen Kingston mentions, the more clutter you have, the more your energy is tied up….[iv]  You can learn more at Karen Kingston's blog.

In the next segment we will discuss Desk Organization and Paper Flow.  If you are like me, you struggle with both.  But I have some solutions that may help.  Remember I appreciate your comments and suggestions for solutions you have found to these issues.

Trust Me, I'm a Doctor.

Dr. Kaaren Douglas

[i] Interview with Sandy Oluwek, #3 at Dial - (605) 477-3000  Enter Access Code - 515586#
[ii] Hale, G, 2002:  The Practical Encyclopedia of Feng Shui.  Hermes House, 88-89 Blackfriars Rd, London. Pp 256
[iii] Kingston, K, 1999.  Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui.  Random House, 1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036, pp179
[iv] Kingston, K, 1997:  Creating Sacred Space with Feng Shui.  Bantam Doubleday Dell Publ Group, Inc, 1540 Broadway NY, NY 10036, p 64