Home-based Business Workspace: Ideas to make it work

home business workspaceYet another Spark Bits Weekly where I ask a panel of homeprenuers a blazing question about running and growing their businesses from home.

Today’s Q is:

Tell us about your workspace at home and how do keep your business endeavors organized?

Stephanie Watson from Barry Publishing says:

home business workspaceI’m very fortunate to have a dedicated office in my home. I have two  file cabinets, two desks, a printer, two computers, a laptop, and from years of doing this, all the office paraphernalia one would expect plus two comfortable chairs and some bookcases. Since my husband helps me in my business one station is his and one is mine. I barely use the filing cabinet or the printer or other stuff anymore. I use Dropbox to keep all my files organized. I scan receipts to keep them in a file for tax purposes, which is practically the only reason the printer is used, and file warranty information in one of the file cabinets.

I use my office only for working. When I want to have fun and play around I go use my laptop in the living room on the couch. This gives me a nice feeling of separation, so that when I am off work, I am off work. Plus it keeps me from wasting time on social media. I use my laptop for work when I am away from the house, or sometimes, like now, when I’m writing something like this and need a change of pace after writing all day long. But mostly, I use my lap top for “off duty” stuff.

I have a desk that allows me to sit or stand. I read that sitting for more than 4 hours a day increases your chances of sudden and early death exponentially, so I had my husband build me a desk that enables me to stand while working. At first I thought it would be hard, but I find that I am actually more productive when I stand.

I have set working hours and days. I do work “over time” when needed, but mostly I try to limit that and get my work done within the parameters that I’ve set. I used to feel like I worked 24/7 and now I don’t. Sure, sometimes I work overtime and on my days off, but that only happens when I need to rearrange something or before and after going on vacation.

I’m very fortunate having this space and all the supplies and equipment that I need. Back when I first started, I had an office in the living room stuffed behind the couch. It was difficult, with the kids running through the room, watching TV and so forth, but it was all I had at the time.

One great thing is that today,  working from home virtually means that I need very little paper or other supplies other than a computer, the Internet, and the right software since I now keep all  files organized in my Dropbox, there’s not much to it. My expenses are low, and I run lean and mean.

Brenda Trott from Done4UMedia Marketing says:

home business workspaceAfter going through 3 computers in one year, I decided to store everything on the cloud. I use Evernote to capture things online or store them on my Google drive where I can grab them from my phone as well as any computer. I store things in folders based on the product I’m creating or the client I’m working with.

Although I have a home office, I often find myself working from my bedroom.  The biggest fault is that it is easy to lose track of time, and I’ll send emails out at 3am.  Once upon a time that didn’t matter, but now that smart phones are notifying people of emails, it becomes a problem when I wake someone up with my late night (or early morning) emails!

My Insights

home business workspaceWorking from home can offer many perks. For one, it offers the opportunity for flexibility, which is especially gratifying for people like me who value freedom.  But with the perks also come disadvantages and one of those is maintaining an organized space for your business, which can be quite difficult when you have the distractions from your home life.

Working from home requires some thought especially when you are just starting out. A goal should be to create a working space that is suitable for you and works for both your personal and business life. For me, feeling physically comfortable when I’m working, noise control and keeping things organized are pretty important.

Although I do have an extra room with a desk, like Brenda, I find myself working out of my guest bedroom because my back and legs get tired from sitting for long periods and I also like to elevate my legs on the bed. I find that I tend to stay more productive in that position. I do bursts of exercise in between to keep my circulation flowing and mind clear. I’ve also considered getting a higher desk to work while standing like Stephanie discussed because of the negative health effects of sitting for long periods.

I also need complete silence to work effectively because I get highly distracted and lose my focus really quickly. It takes me much longer to get it back. Therefore, when I start to work, my husband knows that I’m in work mode and doesn’t overstep that boundary. Maintaining boundaries with your family is really important especially if you are sensitive to noise and distractions like I am. Having a chat with your family or even putting up a sign on your door or work area can help establish an understanding where after a while, you won’t even have to say or do anything.

In keeping things organized, I keep all of my business related things in one room and just bring my laptop with me when I move around in my home. The majority of my files are in digital format so most of the time my laptop will suffice. If I do work on my desk, it has to be completely bare. I can’t work in an area that is messy and cluttered. It doesn’t allow me to think clearly or creatively.

The key, I think, is to find a space that works for you and contributes to your sanity, health and  productivity. From a psychological standpoint, structuring and finding a “place for business” in your home will separate your home life with your business endeavors. Assess your personality and find a home setup that will best contribute to your business success. Your home-based business workspace and the way you organize your biz endeavors is an expression of your personality. Try to create an environment where you will feel most empowered to do your best work and will enhance your productivity.

Have you assessed and reconsidered your home business workspace lately?

Who Says Spreadsheets Can’t Be Sexy?

It has been so many years since I’ve used Excel. These days, OpenOffice Calc is used exclusively around here. Still, I can’t deny there are some pretty cool things about Excel. Not saying Calc is not a good tool, there are just a lot of cool features and functions that I miss. Also, documentation and help is a little sparse with Ooo. I’m far from a spreadsheet guru. I can create formulas in spreadsheets and use it to help tabulate a bunch of stuff – my household budget is run on a spreadsheet, but that’s about it. Guess I just never found the reason to chart stuff until today…Pointy Haired Dilbert

After paying a visit to Pointy Haired Dilbert’s blog. WHOA! Now this guy can chart! From cool management dashboards to project management to creating a Twitter client with Excel? Now that is something interesting.

He’s also got a bunch of downloadable templates you can grab and utilize for your business. Kinda want to make me finally break down and get a copy of Excel. Well… maybe I’ll just go make a dashboard. That’s something I’ve found that I need to keep me on track lately.

Lynette enjoys discovering new ways to use technology or new technologies to use in a business and in turn help her clients apply them. You can find also Lynette at her blog, Twitter and Facebook

Tools To Open Just About Any File

Don’t you just hate it when someone sends you a file you cannot open? Lately, one of the annoying file formats that has popped up for me is .docx. Thankfully, Gmail does that. I love the fact that I can open most files directly in Gmail without downloading but that’s another post altogether. So you have a file on your hands you can’t open and just don’t want to install a clunky piece of software just to open it. What can you do?docs

If get these type of files often, you might want to have the OpenIT plugin for Firefox or Internet Explorer. It helps you open and edit documents without installing the software.

Give Zamzar a go. This is one of my favorites. Converts a boat load of file types. The list is huge. It’s also super easy to use, Upload the file, choose the output format, they’ll email you the converted document. It is free and they also have premium options that allow you to store the files and also use secure connection.

I’ve also discovered YouConvertIt. The converting online video option is cool.

Ever lost the original Word document to your PDF file? Or maybe a client wants to update a very old PDF and do not have access to the Word document anymore? Try PDFtoWord.

Hope they help and you can finally uninstall that pesky software you hardly use but ‘keep around’ just so you can open certain files.

Lynette enjoys discovering new ways to use technology or new technologies to use in a business and in turn help her clients apply them. You can find also Lynette at her blog, Twitter and Facebook

Apple Is Encroaching On My Workspace

I’m well known for hating on the almighty Mac.  I’m a PC lover from way back when and that will probably never change… so why is Apple making so much headway in my home office?

First, I do have an iMac on my desk – used mostly for media consumption.  I watch internet television and web video as well as listen to hours and hours of podcasts each week.  The iMac wins it’s space because it doesn’t take up much and it runs like a horse, never giving me a moments trouble.

I’ve always used a Microsoft keyboard with the Mac because I hate hate hate the Apple keyboard and mouse that came with it.  But today, Apple won a little more desktop space with this awesome little bluetooth keyboard:

mac-sexy-keyboard

Look at how little space it takes up!  Since I don’t need to use a keyboard on the Mac often – it is easy to slip out of the way and pull out when I need it.

And come on – it is seriously a sexy little thing ;)

Next up – I’ve just become a giddy new iPhone user.

I honestly didn’t plan to use an iPhone.  I’ve been happy with my BlackBerry Curve over the last two years – but then my son introduced me to surfing on his iPod Touch and I had what he calls a ‘nerd-gasm’.  It’s truly amazing.

I’ll miss the ‘real’ qwerty keyboard that the BlackBerry offers.  Thumbing the iPhone’s touch screen is taking some getting used to – but I have already fallen in love with it and the ever enticing AppStore.

Look at how the big screened iPhone in a pink wave case mocks the little BB…

iphone-sexy

Poor little BB.

What can I say?  I’ve being tempted by the Apple.

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