Setting Yourself Up for Success: Organizing a Work at Home Space

Photo Credit: Marin

Photo Credit: Marin

I am getting more anxious about making the work at home switch every day. Especially with all of the work that I have had come in this week. It’s actually quite mind boggling for me.

I have been looking for ways to keep myself on track and create a space that helps to increase my productivity. At this point I am working thirty hours a week at my day job and another twenty to thirty a week on freelance writing and blogging. And, with the online work steadily picking up, productivity is key.

Here are the ways I am organizing my work at home space in hopes of increasing my productivity.

Creating a Separate Work Space

I love the ability of being able to work from any spot in the house I desire. That’s the beauty of working from a laptop! The majority of the time I snuggle up in my comfy old chair and get to writing.

However, I have found that there are times when I just have trouble concentrating and need to work from a designated office space. This is where my desk comes into play.

I have created an office space in my bedroom. My bedroom is pretty big so it was no trouble setting up a desk and chair. The back corner of the room is what I consider to be my office.

Having the Right Tools

When my boss got frustrated with one of our work printers being a little too slow he decided to replace it. This worked to my advantage because I ended up snagging a perfectly good printer with ink in tow for free!

 I don’t use the printer much but there are definitely some documents, like freelance contracts and non-disclosure agreements, that I like to print out for my records.

On top of that I have also gotten a couple of international clients, which is kind of cool. For this I have been thinking about getting a wifi calling app so that I can make cheap international calls.

In addition I also like to have pen and paper on hand at all times. I always write down blog post ideas as they come to mind.

Scheduling and Tracking Payments

I am really liking the system I use to keep track of my assignments and payments right now. I have two daily planners that I use for this.

The first planner is a really nice one and has the month laid out in blocks by day. I record when my assignments are due and how much they pay. I mark out the assignments as I complete them and write “paid” on them as I collect the money.

My second planner I got for about three dollars at Menards. It is just labeled with the days of the week and allows adequate room to record a “to-do list.” I transfer over my assignments from the big planner to the small one and record all of the tasks I need to accomplish for the day. I mark them off as they’re completed.

My overall goal is to increase my productivity while working at home. One thing that kind of scares me is getting lazy after making the switch. I want to have a good work at home system in place that allows me to do my best work and keeps me on track.

How do you have your work at home space set up?

Comments

  1. says

    I definitely need to create a separate workspace. Right now I just work wherever. However, I would really like to change that and switch one of our extra bedrooms into a home office.

  2. says

    I have a home office that’s attached to my bedroom but is a separate space (there’s a half wall and a step down to the office portion of the room.

    I also enjoy working from a chair in our living room, but I’ve found lately that I’ve started developing back and shoulder pain. Now I’m paying more attention to ergonomics so I don’t become the next hunchback of Notre Dame….

    • Alexa says

      lol……We don’t want you coming out like the hunchback, Joe! It’s hard to resist the comfort of a good chair but offices chairs have there perks too I suppose.

  3. says

    We have an office in our house but I rarely use it. I usually write in my favorite chair in my living room. It has a ton of light and is super comfy.

    I mostly use my office if my kids are home when I need to work.

    • Alexa says

      Yeah, I sit at my desk when my kids are home sometimes as well. But then they want to come sit with me and we all end up sharing the desk. the good part is they do some work too and are a little more calm and quiet.

  4. says

    I am pretty much inspired by your post Alexa. I need to follow your steps as I have started working from home. I need to think of creating a workspace for me as it would help to concentrate on my work

    • Alexa says

      Creating a separate workspace definitely helps productivity. Lock yourself in the office until you get the work done ;)

  5. says

    I think you’re spot on making sure you have a designated workspace. If I were to do more work from home that would absolutely be at the top of my list. As for international calls, is there any reason you couldn’t use something free like Google hangouts?

  6. says

    Though I’m far, far, if ever being able to quit my job and blog full time it is still a small amount of income for me. With kids and working fulltime it is so important that I stay organized. An hour of dedicated, organized work is worth like 3 hours of trying to get work done with distractions!

    • Alexa says

      Yes, exactly! You put it perfectly. There are somedays when I could write all day long and feel like I get nothing done and other days I am impressed with what I achieved in an hour.

  7. says

    Nicely done Alexa :)

    I have a small storage room in my apartment that I have converted into a small office – you’ve seen the photo :)

    I also scored an awesome all in printer, including ink as well, from the garbage room on my floor. Someone just threw it out last year and it has been working perfectly for me…score!!

    I also like to move around my apartment and find that when the mood hits, it is nice to sit on a comfy chair or couch or even write from bed if so desired. However, I don’t have wifi set up in my apartment, so I can only surf the web and publish my writing from my desktop.

    It’s funny, we escape working at an office only to work out of an “office” at home! What’s up with that!! :)

    Take care and all the best.

    Lyle

    • Alexa says

      The home office is work is so much better than the work office ;) I have been thinking also that maybe different spots in the house motivate me for different things. For example, if I am writing a blog post for my own blog I can pretty much sit wherever and get it done quickly.

      However if I am working on boring topics I need to sit in a designated space and really focus.

  8. says

    You need not be anxious of the switch. Meh thinks when the time comes you’ll make the switch flawlessly. That you are realizing and tackling potential work at home bottle-necks already eg, productivity, you’ll do quite well :)
    A corner of my bedroom also functions as my “home-office”, well, just a desk with a comfy chair on a window overlooking the street…not a terrific view down but it does wonders for my creativity and productivity!

    • Alexa says

      Thanks, Simon. Yeah maybe I am subconsciously preparing to make the switch sooner than later….that would be nice!!

  9. says

    Sounds like you’ve got things set up quite well, Alexa! We have a smaller house but are lucky that the first floor has an office. It’s great to have a space that I can keep all of my work tasks in order at. I’m so excited for you to be able to dump the day job and work freelance full time!

    • Alexa says

      Thanks, Laurie! My desk has a lot of storage which is another thing I like. I can easily keep all of my writing/blogging ideas and documents in one place.

  10. christie says

    Great post, Alexa!
    I have been wanting to set up an office space too. I’m not sure how it will all work out. I end up with papers spread out in different places. Plus, I hate looking at the ugly printer and the modem cords … ugh.
    I like your two work book system. It is hard to figure out what works . I need to help my son set up something like this too.
    ~ Christie

    • Alexa says

      I do too, Christie. Cords bother me!! It is hard to figure out what works. I just started using the two planners a few months ago and love it. I’ll have to take pictures of how I use them and write a little more detail on that one day. It’s the best system I’ve ever set up for myself!

  11. says

    Look into Skype if you need to make international calls. I work with people in China, and it was what they suggested, so I think international folks are already accustomed to it.

    • Alexa says

      I have never used Skype. Matt recommended Google Hangouts too. I guess I’ll have to move into the new era and learn how to use these! Thanks, Erin!

  12. Brookst says

    I have a desk and all but sometimes I can’t work at home. I still feel guilty about laundry and dishes and such so I get a cup of coffee and go to the library. It’s quiet. There’s free internet and cheap printers. The librarians are great resources and there is no home distractions.

    • Alexa says

      I want to try working at the library one day. I feel like it would be a great atmosphere to really get stuff done. I get bothered with messes too though. On the days where I work strictly from home I spend an hour in the morning cleaning before getting to work.

  13. says

    A separate work space is so important to me for so many reasons! Little things like hanging calendars, a desk with a good chair and silence when I need it play a huge role in my ability to get things done. Thanks for the great read!

    • Alexa says

      Thanks, Josh. I have a hanging Calendar above my desk but since I’ve moved to the daily planners I haven’t gotten too much use out of it.

    • Alexa says

      Lol I can imagine. My kids like my little office setup. I try to schedule the majority of my calls for when my girls are at their dads. I hate to talk to clients for the first time with both girls screaming for my attention in the background!

  14. says

    I honestly don’t work from home that often (well, for my full-time job) but when I do I always wish our office was a bit more organized, had more shelving and storage, etc. If I worked from home for my full-time job I would probably install new shelving, add bulletin boards and white boards, and clean up the space so there aren’t stacks of things “to file some day.”

    • Alexa says

      I would like to add some cork and white boards at some point too. I’d like to have enough money to build an aesthetically pleasing office!

  15. says

    That’s some excellent organization there! My desk is actually my kitchen table. But it has great light and space-of course I can’t actually eat at the table then. I hardly use a planner. I know that sounds crazy but for some reason I can just remember everything, or at most I just scribble my daily to-do list and occasionally jot something down on my outlook calendar. I do keep a very neat desk though. I think this is key to productivity.

  16. says

    I really like how you stay organized with your planner system. I have had the same desk since I was about five and its always housed my computer (ever since I had one). It’s been my designated work space for quite some time, as I wrote essays and did plenty of other homework there. When I got a laptop, I alternated between the kitchen table and the desk. Now that I’ve moved, it’s in the living room, so there are still some distractions if my boyfriend is watching TV. I’d love to eventually get a two bedroom apartment and use one for an office.

  17. says

    Hi Alexa,
    Our office doubles as our guest bedroom, so it’s separate from the distractions of TV in the living room. Still, productivity at home is a tricky thing for me. I try to set daily goals for myself, as you do with your planner, and then give myself permission to distract myself if I achieve the goals for the day.

    I think working at home either requires you to be a self-starter, or to be the kind of person willing to learn the habits to become one. It’s been the most challenging part of the job so far, for me, but as you noted having the right environment can help.

  18. says

    I was working from the dining room table for a while, but I finally rearranged my office so that I like coming in here to work! It’s really important for me to not feel claustrophobic when I work. I live in a cape, and I had my desk in one of the dormers… not productive at all! I put my bookshelf there instead, and I’m much happier. :)

  19. says

    Nice snag on the printer! My space is wherever I can go with the laptop that someone else isn’t. Not ideal, but it’s working for now. Love how you’re so organized with the different planners!

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