Setting up your office is a very important part of becoming a successful web designer. When I first started working from home, I have to admit I didn’t really have a dedicated space. My son was 5 years old. I was really only working part-time, mostly volunteering. The kitchen table and a laptop were all I really needed. I could keep an eye on the kid and get a few things done on the computer. Even with Spongebob on the TV. However, as my son grew and my business grew, this just didn’t cut it anymore. Here are some important tips for setting up your home office:
If you can, have a dedicated room just for your business
After I gave up up the kitchen table, I moved to a full room that allowed me to shut a door and really get down to business. Today, my office gives me a dedicated space to work. And I have it set up for working only so I can take a home office deduction. It’s important to draw that line not only for tax purposes but for your productivity, too. While I meet clients outside of my office for privacy, my meetings are just a fraction of my work week. The majority of my time is behind a desk in my office.
Feng Shui your setting
I had a client that did Feng Shui come to my office and it made such a difference in how I feel in the space. I previously had my desk against a wall with my back to the door. I basically moved my desk to the middle of the room so anyone walking in would feel invited to my desk. This not only makes people feel welcome but also opportunities. It also puts you in the power position. Would Don Draper face a wall with his back to the door? No way.
Have the right equipment
I work with both a desktop and a laptop. I have a good printer/scanner. Add a cell phone and that’s about all I have ever needed. I would never run my business with only one computer. It’s always good to have two. I also don’t use double monitors, but that’s just a personal preference. Have a desk and chair that are comfortable for you.
Keep it clean
This is not something I’m known to do 100% of the time, but a messy desk really, really makes my creativity die. I do a clean up at least once a week. I still use paper files and do a purge each year of clients that have retired, closed or moved on. Don’t get so focused on it that you spend your day tidying up. You have work to do!
Set office hours and stick with them
If you have a home office, you have to really turn off your I’m at home brain. You are at work! It doesn’t matter if there is laundry, dishes, or other stuff to do. If you have someone at home with you, shut your door. If you do have things you want to do during a break, go ahead, but make a rule about it. I will only do this when it’s my ten minutes break or between Pomodoros. I’m not going to lie, this is hard to master, but once you do, you’ll be more productive.
Decide if having clients come to your home office works for you
For me, this doesn’t work. I’ve always had a big dog at home and while keeping my office pretty organized is a priority, keeping the house in that state is another matter. Especially when my son was young. Have I ever had a client over? Yes, but it was a close friend that was a client, not just a client.
Promote online conference calls
This will allow you to meet people at home without really having them over. This isn’t going to work with you internet challenged clients, but will work with more of them than you might imagine. Pay special attention to the placement of your camera and your background. You want to look professional. I have increased this type of meeting using Zoom in the last couple of years and I love it!
My other office is a coffee shop
I do meet clients occasionally at a coffee shop near my home. Actually, I have several favorites in my area. I have been told in online training courses that this isn’t the most professional way to meet clients. Here in Seattle, coffee shops are part of our DNA. It works just fine for me.
When it’s time to move to a real office space
Of course, if you are pitching 25K packages to large companies, it might be time to set up shop in a real space. Co-working is also an option when you need a conference space. Or, if you hire a team and need a place to gather, you are going to need more than a room in your house. You’ll know when you’ve outgrown your current set up.
The most important question to ask yourself when setting up your home office is do I feel inspired to work here? Do I feel like a professional? Do I feel creative? You want to say yes to all three.