Tuesday, May 28, 2013

How to Survive a Home Office

You may live this life, do you?

The one where you get to go back and forth between working in your actual out there with secretaries, colleagues and all that office to working in your home "office"...
which in my case consists of
me, Jack and whomever else is coming and going around here.

This winter my son took over my home office in our basement and turned it into his bedroom.
He is a very happy teenager... and well, other than me feeling somewhat disorganized at times...
I am loving it too.

My office in the basement before my son took it over....
Truth be told, I never grew up with a basement and don't seem to really get basements.
Ours is a walk-out basement since our house sits into a small hill...
which means there is a lot more light filtering in than your average subterranean living space.

But that said...working from home is not always easy...
it requires a certain discipline and well.... you need some rules if you want to survive.

Take yesterday, a fresh bouquet of tulips lured me into the living room to do some reading and a bit of work on my laptop...
I really could not complain.

But then of course that put me at the level of Jack who seemed to feel that there was increased opportunity for petting given the height of the table and the sofa...

So, of course that forced me to move over here.....
which is actually where I usually end up given the extra long table that is perfect for spreading
out my work and getting the overall "big picture"of whatever project I am working on at the time.

But moving around is not that satisfying and that is where the tendency to feel disorganized comes about.
I say it is time for a space to call my own.
Now that the teen has taken over the room in the basement I think I might be ready to take over his old room on the second floor.
Turn it into a den slash office space.

Working at home requires a great deal of discipline
and for those of you like me....
you know it requires a routine of sorts.

Being without an assigned space right now it
has forced me to remember the basic rules I find you need to survive.
And believe me, I have never been a "rules" person.

RULE # 1
Get up and get dressed.....

Oh for sure I have had the odd Skype meeting with my team... in my pyjama bottoms!
It happens, but generally speaking...
although you may not be leaving the house to go to work you still need that sense of starting the day.

Getting dressed is easy and establishes a mental commitment to your day.
And hey, if you are a heels gal, well you can save them for the other office and actually find them not too uncomfortable...

Rule #2
Set up a Work Space

Go to a designated space where you work.
It does not have to be much but make it something you will enjoy.

Whether it is in a closet or a whole room assigned to your work....
get it set up and functional and .....go there.

Your own work space establishes boundaries for you and your family.
Once you are there everyone knows you are working.
It is sooo easy to think that mom is available if there is no clear definition between working mom and mom.

Rule # 3
Take a break.

When I am in my home office, everyone in my "office buiding" is heading off for a morning break and an afternoon break
and we should too.

Just because you are at home doesn't mean you don't need to stretch.
I get so much more done when I leave my workspace and head outdoors for 15 minutes.

Society HIll
Hey, and don't forget LUNCH. Great time to pick up that novel you are reading and head off for a real personal break....or I often grab Jack and take a longer walk around our neighbourhood.

Rule #4
Set your hours.

If you like to start early, great....but don't forget to determine your shut-off point.
Maybe you are trying to build up some overtime but don't forget
to take time to live.
Working at home means you lack all the signals that the office world delivers...people shutting down their computers, putting on coats, grabbing bags and saying their farewells....

Rule #5
Keep Social

Working from home can be really lonely.
Many of my colleagues have told me that they just couldn't do it..... nobody to talk to.
Truth be told, I often get a lot more done when I work at home because there is nobody to talk to.
But, that said,  most of us do need to have some social.

Chateau de Lilie Blog

These days, I Skype a lot to meet with people and I try to arrange to hook up with friends at the end of a work day.

Your life may be already loaded with after school activities that involve your children but if not
you need to consider little perks at the end of the day at least once a week that add some change to your life.
Day in and day out in the same space can get to you.
So get out.

Rule #6 ....and my final rule....

Enjoy. Don't feel guilty.

I feel so lucky to have the option to work at home. 
I definitely save money, and I get to enjoy my personal space.
 Some friends chuckle when they hear that I am working at home for a few days....
they seem to imagine me as the old stereotype of the lady with chocolates and soaps on the telly.
hmmm.... chocolates are always possible.... throw that in with Rule #3!

Do you work at home??



  1. I do and I have blown it with all of these. I need to re-group and start fresh! I work for myself and I am a way to slack boss ;) Seriously though, I do find if I take breaks I get a lot more done.

  2. My husband does, He sell labels in the south of Spain and his enterprise is to 1000 km away , in the north. So when he is not traveling he works at home, we has a small room where I do the ironing and he has his office. I try to do the ironing when he is travelling. A little bit difficult


  3. I work from home - and I stopped following all those rules about 5 years into it lol...............
    If I don't feel like getting dressed - I don't ( until late in the day )
    Love your photos as always Donna!

  4. No, I don't work at home or outside the home but I think you have listed some great tips here, Donna, for those that do. My husband works at home some days and has his office downstairs. I keep him in tea, feed him lunch and he comes upstairs for a break now and then. I like when he works at home and enjoy him just being in the house with me. :) Pam

  5. Nope, I no longer work at all, but I look forward to the day when I can return to teaching! These rules sound practical. I have so many distractions at home, though....I admire anyone who can make it work!

    I know I'd enjoy being on the second floor more than the basement. I don't like our basement at all...this is the first home I've ever lived in with a basement, and I don't like it!

    I can't wait to see your new office!


  6. love all the funny pics you incorporated ..... for sure I would not be a good candidate for a home office...Kudos to you for being disciplined enough!!! Love your dark table by the way!!!

  7. Cute. I think if I worked from home getting dressed would be my issue. I hate putting on makeup and good clothes, unless I am going somewhere.

    My spouse works from home, and travels two or three days per week. He has an office that I need to fix; it is detached; there are side rooms off the carport. It's sweltering. I was just looking at a 100 dollar ac unit for it.

  8. I do work at home, write that is!
    I'm in process of moving house again (twice in less than a year; boy howdy I need my head examined!), so I'm very committed to a new home office and have had a time trying to decide on a computer station...use an antique dressing table or a modern computer desk/table. So far the antique dressing table is ahead. Also I've decided the ugly black file cabinet, which I really need near at hand, will go in the closet so a not to be a glaring eye sore in the room. Of course I must have my little over-stuffed sofa for those afternoon naps. Needless to say, I've spent more time and energy in arranging this office than I have the rest of the house all together.

  9. I don't work at home all the time, but I work at home a lot of the time. I think you wrote very clever rules... even if I don't follow them all the time! My home office is in the living-room as I didn't want to spend my days in one of the rooms upstairs, but I might change my mind later.

  10. Thank you for sharing your insight! I will definitely put some of them into my routine! Linda


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