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How to Make Your Home Office Work for You
Posted by Insightlink on 09/18/20
Envy is the thief of joy, or so say the gurus of internet advice boards. It’s all too easy to scroll thru Instagram and get immediately jealous of how top influencers have decked out their home offices to look like they’re work-at-home CEOs.
There’s nothing wrong with getting design tips from success stories on social media, but you might not need as many changes as you think to get a functional workspace up and running in your home. Here are some easy, practical ways to get everything you need — without taking up space with what you don’t.
It isn’t 1995 anymore, so you shouldn’t have to shell out thousands of dollars for computers to run a business. Your computer may be the single most important purchase for your home office. Luckily, there are plenty of useful, affordable options out there — no piggy-bank smashing required.
A savvy tech user may even be able to build a PC for just a few hundred dollars, but if that’s far beyond your wheelhouse, no worries: Most inexpensive laptops can run application suites like Office and Adobe; many come pre-loaded with this kind of baseline software.
There’s no point in sugarcoating it: Many people are junkaholics. We all know that having a lot of stuff in our life isn’t the key to happiness — far from it — but endless commercials and “neighbor envy” can create the urge to accumulate as much, furniture, decor, clothes, and trinkets as we can.
Impulse buying aside, all the evidence suggests we do our best work with the fewest distractions. To create a distraction-free home office, you may have to aggressively prune what you own, possibly with the help of some ruthlessness and a dumpster, for the good of your business.
Don’t think of it as a sacrifice: Think of it as liberating yourself from an unending cycle of wanting the next thing (and then the next thing), and it’ll be far easier to let go of what’s no longer important.
You spend almost all of your home office time parked in just one spot: your desk. This makes your choice of desk quite important for your productivity, since not all desks are created equal. Consider what’s important to you, and let that inform your choice.
There are ergonomic desks, sit-stand convertible desks, and even treadmill desks that can break you out of a funk by physically engaging you in ways a traditional beige slab never could. Consider a desk that’s more than a space to put stuff, and you might actually enjoy being there for longer periods during the day.
It’s impossible to escape the red tape and fine print necessary to set up any traditional business: licensing, insurance… you name it. The requirements for a home office are nowhere near as strict, but it’s important to remember the dangers of putting all your eggs in one basket — especially when that basket could suffer a gas leak, a burst pipe, or even a full-fledged fire.
A home warranty can ease your mind by providing financial security in the event of household problems, providing coverage for repairs. Be sure you aren’t lamenting the loss of financial records or equipment in the event of an unforeseen disaster.
Thanks to the pandemic, toilet paper aisles have been largely empty for the past six months, but that’s not the only product that’s been in demand. Add reliable internet service to that list. In fact, slower internet is now the norm since there are so many more people teleworking and streaming.
You might not want to purchase an internet upgrade since you expect solid service for what you already pay. But it can be well worth the cost, especially if your business is at stake. Communicating with customers, accessing up-to-date information, and avoiding lags or disconnections can result in far greater productivity, sales, and profits.
A home office needs to be a place of management — and that includes money management. A good first step in setting up a home office is nailing down your accounting system to stay in control of your financial matters.
After all, nobody else is going to balance your books (unless you pay for the privilege). Conscientious accounting pays for itself, especially when taxes come due and you learn the IRS frowns on second-rate bookkeeping.
Get a good calculator, software that can help you track your money-in and money-out movement, and a guide to help you manage your credit. Also, back up your records on a hard drive and in cloud storage.
From organizing your workspace to protecting it from unexpected expenses, there’s a lot to think about when you’re setting up a home office. What did I miss? Try using the ideas presented here as the basis for a checklist, then add your own and mark them off one by one.
With a little planning, creativity, and some prudent investments, you can create an office that’s the most productive place — and one of the most comfortable spots — in your home.
By Ann Lloyd, Student Savings Guide
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