It is important to your business that you have a designated place to work. Even if you work from home – especially if you work from home! Having a home office, whether it’s a converted closet, a spare bedroom, a corner of your bedroom or part of your living room, is important. A dedicated office space for your business helps you stay organized and organization is crucial for an entrepreneur. Even if you like to hang out at Starbucks every now and then or go to the library if your office is a shared space. Having a home base for all of your office supplies and business related items is important.
Here are some tips for setting up shop:
1. Set boundaries and expectations
If you share your home with others, let everyone in your know where your office is. In the most loving way possible 🙂 let everyone know that your office is for your business. If you’re fine with sharing the space or supplies – great! But it is important to set boundaries and expectations. This way everyone knows what to expect. If someone borrows something, let them know that you need them to return the item immediately. When you sit down to work, you need to be able to get as much completed as possible and as quickly as possible. A lot of new entrepreneurs have full-time jobs, families and other pressing obligations. When you sit down to work, you need to have everything at your fingertips. You don’t want to have to chase down your laptop every time you need to update your website or write a blog post.
Click the button below to print a worksheet for your office rules and hours. Feel free to post this sheet in plain view for others and as a reminder to yourself.
2. Set office hours
This is very important. Just like a regular 9 – 5 job has office hours, so should your business. Even if it’s Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 6 – 8 pm, even if those hours aren’t posted on your website for customers. Once you set your office hours, make them known to everyone in your house and anyone that may try to get in contact with you during those hours. If your office is a shared space, let everyone know in advance that you will be using that space as your office. Kindly ask everyone to either use another area of the home, or let them know that you will be controlling the atmosphere. You will pick the lighting, music, etc.
Make sure you stick to your office hours! This is for you and everyone else as well. If you don’t honor your office hours, others won’t honor them either. If your office is in a shared space, you may notice that people don’t respect the room as yours during your set office hours because they think you aren’t serious about using the space as your office. Also, keeping office hours will ensure that you have dedicated time to work on your business. The structure will help you in the long run.
Office hours = no interruptions! No phone calls, no knocks on the door – no exceptions. Of course life happens and stay at home parents don’t always have this luxury, but try to keep this rule unless it’s absolutely necessary. It takes approximately 25 minutes to regain your focus after a distraction! Most of us can’t afford that amount of lost time for every phone call, text, tweet and knock on the door. It will be hard to enforce in the beginning, but eventually everyone will become acclimated to your new schedule and rules.
Protect your office and time as if you worked for someone else. Whether you love(d) your 9-5 or not, you want(ed) to keep your job because you need to get paid! In order to keep your job, you know you can’t sit on the phone and talk to your friends all day, watch Netflix at your desk, talk to a co-worker for 2 hours about their new puppy or take a nap at 2 pm. So give your business the same respect!
3. Make a schedule
At the end of each day, write out a list of tasks that you would like to complete the next day. That way when you get to work (your office), you can get started right away. Sometimes there is so much to be done it can be overwhelming. Using the worksheets from Dream a Little can help to break big tasks down into manageable daily assignments.
Plan out your ideal day. What do you have to do daily, weekly, monthly, etc. What are your monthly goals? What projects do you have to work on? Start with the end in mind and work backward. If you have a new product launch in 3 months, decide what you need to do each month to make it happen, then each week of each month, then daily.
If you don’t have a plan, it can be too much. When building a business, YOU have to do EVERYTHING! You’re constantly developing processes, procedures and revising them to make sure you’re efficient. Make sure you start your day focused and with a plan. You may not always be able to stick to the plan, but you will be moving in the right direction.
Most people don’t go to their 9-5 and just wait to see what happens when they show up. Most (competent) people have an idea of what the day holds for them. They know what needs to be accomplished by the end of the day, week, month, etc. Do the same for your business.
4. Make a List of What You Need to be Successful
When setting up your office, make a list of the items you absolutely need in order for your business to run smoothly. Once you have those items, even if it’s just a tablet, pen and paper, once you have those things – you’re ready to start! Then make a list of items that you’d like to get as your business grows.
Things most businesses need: