Oh, how I hated cubicles… I thank my lucky stars every day that I don’t sit in a cubicle any more. What a miserable way to work. What a terrible way to spend so many hours of your life. Open office plans are just as bad. The extroverts can’t focus with all the social stimulation and the introverts feel like they are constantly under siege. Let me tell you how I really feel. LOL!
Now that you are working for yourself, the how, when and where is completely up to you!
Your Workspace Has a Profound Effect on Your Mindset and Productivity
Writing this blog post gave me a great excuse to look at so many beautiful workspaces. The spaces we occupy shape who we are and how we behave. This has serious consequences for our psychological well-being and creative performance. So it turns out I was not just being a spoiled brat all those years I hated working in cubicles and bullpens.
Do you prefer restaurant booths over free-standing tables? Most people do. We are genetically programmed to feel more secure when we have a full view of our surroundings. Why? Our ancestor’s survival depended on having a secure location with an expansive view. This kept them alive by allowing them to see approaching predators and enemies. It also put them in the best possible position to find their next meal. Most of us instinctively enjoy sitting in sheltered locations that overlook expansive areas like parks and oceans for the same reason. Don’t you love having a good reason to hold out for the view?
This article, 7 Steps to a More Productive and Inspiring Workspace, has some great tips. It says to minimize distractions which seems obvious but can be difficult regardless of your work setting. It also recommends planning for noise. Will you play music or use noise cancelling headphones? Will you do your deep work early in the morning or late at night when things are quiet? The article also highlights the importance of natural light, fresh air and a view of green space.
Where Will You Work?
In a past life, this meant what company you would work for. Now I quite literally mean WHERE you will work. Hooray! The good news is that you get to choose the place or places that are best for you. In today’s world of smart phones, Wi-Fi, laptops and hotspots, you can work from almost anywhere.
You can work from home. You can rent an office. New coworking spaces are popping up every day around the world. Coworking options cover multiple ages, stages, locations, work styles and budgets. You can work indoors or outdoors, in a park, library, coffee shop or at the beach. You can mix it up with a combination of locations. It has never been easier to work from anywhere you choose.
I Work 98% Remotely
I actually work from home, but when speaking with clients I always say I work remotely. It is important to be professional. And I never say things like, “I’ll look that up when I get home,” or “I’ll be home tomorrow, so we can schedule a call then.” Instead I say, “I’ll look that up when I get back to the office,” or “I’ll be in the office tomorrow, so we can schedule a call then.”
I have always had a dedicated office space with the ability to close the door. I think it would be hard to build a multiple six figure business without being able to close the door but plenty of people do it. I don’t end up closing the door very often. I tend to plan around the activity flow of our home, but this probably has me working more late nights than I should.
For the first several years, my office was in a spare room that also served as the guest room. In the early years, I still had a desktop computer and I can remember working into the wee hours under dim light with my Mom snoring away in the guest bed. The things mothers do for their children even when the children are grown. When baby #2 came along, we turned the front porch into my office. The front porch already had three sides and a roof. We closed the front wall and covered the small open section of the roof with a skylight. I have a big window and glass door. I look out on a fenced portion of the inner front yard, so I have plenty of privacy. My husband has been cultivating a tropical garden in this small section of our yard for many years, so I have a view that rivals any garden view room at the Hilton Hawaiian Village hotel. I can step right out the door for fresh air breaks and phone calls. It is amazing, and I love my workspace.
A Backyard Shed Can Be a Great Office
Before we had kids, there were two spare bedrooms so we each had an office. When our daughter was born, we built a shed in the backyard to serve as my husband’s office. This was long before man caves and she sheds. It works really well. He has electricity, Wi-Fi, cable TV, heat, AC and even a small refrigerator. It’s been a nice escape even when he is not working. We bought a kit from Costco. I think there are even more options these days. You can have a nice freestanding space at a fraction of the cost of doing a real addition to the house.
How to Find a Space for Your Home Office
My office furniture is a relic of the pre-digital days of high-rise piles of paper files and stacks of books. A functional office in those days required lots of bulky furniture. I have dreams of redecorating someday. Our new paperless world allows much more flexibility when carving out a home office.
Start by doing a little research. Look online for ideas but keep in mind the pictures look like no one has ever worked there. Make sure your choices are both beautiful and functional. In the early days, it’s better to choose function over form. This Realspace Magellan Tech Station looks like a good option. There are some great ideas using storage carts with wheels if you want to roam around the house depending on the time of day and your mood. This moveable office is my favorite.
There are always lots of cute pictures where people have created an office nook out of a closet. Who lives in a universe where you can spare a closet? There are a lot of other creative ideas for where you might be able to tuck a desk and some shelves for storage. Garages and basements can also work.
If you are lucky enough to have a dedicated room, you don’t need to be as creative. There are so many furniture options these days, you are sure to find something to meet your budget. If you’re thinking budget? What budget? Try Freecycle or craigslist.
And last but not least, don’t forget the noise cancelling headphones.
Take it One Step at a Time
I’m big on taking things step by step. You can absolutely get started at the kitchen table. Keep in mind that your workspace does impact your productivity and mindset. Eventually you will want to invest some time and perhaps even some money. As with everything, being thoughtful and intentional will yield better results.
If you like the idea of taking steps, this free email course will walk you through three action steps to generate revenue now. If you start right away, you can be doing billable work as soon as next week. Following these three action steps gives you the best possible chance of landing a consulting project. It works for me and I see it work for others, over and over again. Take control and take the plunge!