Monday, February 24, 2014

H Is For Home Office

My new home office (Black blob on the floor is my bag:-)
One of the most difficult lessons I've had to learn since I moved to Phokeng is that the space where you work matters and it's difficult to focus on the work at hand when your work station is unsettled.

Initially I worked where I could, when I could. I had a big table with my computers, printer and laptop in  my bedroom, but it didn't feel like a proper place to work. So I roamed about in the house, telling myself it was nice to be so mobile. And it sounds very nicely creative. However, the situation was not working as it should.

Here are some of the benefits of having a home office, whether it's an outside cottage, a room separate from the rest of your house or a corner in one of the family rooms:

1. A home office provides the equipment you need - yes, I'm a writer and I  mostly use a laptop, but I also need to file my research papers and have a proper places to put material that I'm currently using. I also needed a desk/table and chair that suited my body, so I don't sit in positions that are potentially damaging to the body.

2. A home office helps you delineate work and family matters - When you work at home, there is a danger of your life bleeding into your work and vice versa.

Having a home office allows you to work when you are in the office and to focus on other things when you're not in the office. Even my mind knows this - when I sit at my desk, my mind knows it's time to work.

3. A home office says to your family that you are serious about your work - Baby was very well-trained on this, primarily because she grew up in an environment where I worked from home and she knew not to disturb me when I write.

My family here didn't know this, and someone would try to tell me something interesting while I was trying to focus on work. And even though they knew in theory I was working, it didn't seem to register with them.

Somehow sitting behind the desk communicates much more effectively that I'm at work and unavailable for a chat.

Choosing the room

We all have different criteria for choosing the room that eventually works as a home office.

The room where I work

I chose this room because it needed less furnishings  (just a desk, filing cabinet and office chair). It already had a diningroom table and chairs which double quite nicely as my meeting table.

One of the two visitors' couches. I also read & crochet here

It also has couches for people who've come to see me and maybe need to wait while I finish a task.

The room also works for me also because it's centrally located and has three doors. So if I have a meeting with a stranger, they can come into my office without going into the rest of the house.  I'm also accessible to the family through the other two doors going to the house when they need me, but can still be separate from the hurly burly of family life when I'm busy.

The elements of my home office

1. A good quality desk which has shelves to store my office accessories (like staples and paper clips)
2. A good office chair that supports my back well
3.  A laptop to write with (with a PC set to act as back-up if there is a need) connected to the Internet by cable and a wireless modem. We also created a WiFi Network which I can access anywhere in the house.
4. A printer
5. A scanner
7. A bowl full of pens and pencils to quickly scribble with if needed
8. A filing cabinet with hanging files
9. A notice board accessible for me to clip reminder. The board is to remind me of long-term items that are not in my to do list, so when I do a brain dump, the paper goes there until further notice
10. My office diary

I also wanted to add that the winners of the G is for Give-Away competition are:

1st prize - Michelle Gibson
2nd Prize- Rochefel Rivera
3rd Prize - Student Mommy

Thank you all for participating. I'll be in touch with all the winners.


Unknown said...

Great post!

I'm looking forward to having my own home office. At the moment I work from my bedroom as I still live with my folks but I know how harmonious it will be when I finally get my workspace sorted.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely article! I just loved seeing your office. It's so bright and cheerful. Just perfect for writing and keeping motivated. I totally agree with you too on the importance of a home office and keeping it clear. That's one of my challenges. Monday it starts out awesome and by Friday it's like a tornado hit. But I do try and do better. Thanks! Diana Ennen

Damaria Senne said...

@michelle -I also worked in my bdroom for a long time. I hope you won't have to wait too long to get your own work space.
@Diana - That you Diana for the compliment. I do have help to keep the place from looking like a bomb exploded in here;-)

Frankie Miller said...

I think your office space is just right. I like the idea of the window being behind you so that you have the light without the distraction of being able to gaze through it all the time.
My space is a dark corner which is fine while I'm writing, but at other times it can be annoying having to have a lamp to see what I'm doing!
Happy writing, Damaria.

Truedessa said...

A lovely space for you to work ..enjoyed reading your post and seeing the pictures.

Stephanie Faris said...

I'm a couch writer--I write while reclined on the sofa! I probably should have an office but it feels too much like "work" to me!

Unknown said...

Hi, Damaria! I also setup my computer table in the bedroom, together with my husband's. We both work from home and we love to work next to each other. It works for both of us specially when babies need some attention. Maybe I got used to working on and off with 2 and 3-year-old babies running around. Lol! And thanks to your mama for picking my name, too! (hugs and kissed for her!) :)

Damaria Senne said...

@Fanny - I've also found facing the window to be distracting. I love gardening (my gardening blog if you're interested but the problem with being able to see outside is that it calls to me to come hang out and play in the soil. So I need to NOT look when I'm writing:-)
@stephanie - You're right. It feels like work. Unfortunately for me, I need that feeling to get my brain in gear:-)
@Truedessa - thanks.
@Roche - I love the picture your words painted in my mind, of a family that works together and spends time together. I know not everyone is able to work from home or with their family, but it's great when we can earn a living without spending too much time away from our loved ones.

Alison Fourie said...

Hi Damaria I love that you have flowers on your desk. My hubby keeps up a supply of flowers on my desk when we have in the garden, its nice to bring the outside into our offices and its something nice to look at while we are working.

Student Mommy said...

Agg! I'm the dining room table person and I HATE it. I want an office with a door. I need the walls too. Seriously though, I need a door to shut me in and shut off my work when I'm out of the room too.

Student Mommy said...

Agg! I'm the dining room table person and I HATE it. I want an office with a door. I need the walls too. Seriously though, I need a door to shut me in and shut off my work when I'm out of the room too.

Damaria Senne said...

@Alison - I love bringing flowers into the house too. Thankfully I also love gardening and grow a lot of flowers, especially marigolds, so during the height of the season, I have vases all over the house. It brings a lively air to the house. Glad your hubby also appreciates flowers and brings some into your office for both of you to enjoy.
@Student Mommy - It's a pity for most of us, space is such a premium that there is no separate office. As you can see, I used the diningroom, which we mostly eat in when we have family celebrations (we have a big eat-in table in the kitchen). Is it not possible for you to do the same as i've done... use a corner of your diningroom as your office? Or is your table in a high traffic area? I think this is where open plan houses don't work for me. Sure it's lovely to have a big kitchen dining space, but it sorta rules out the possibility of having a separate diningroom that you can also use for something.

Taya said...

I am hoping we move soon. A private office is a dream for me. I have an office space rather than an office. When the kids are away at school, it's generally quiet. However, my fiancé works from home sometimes as well, and he talks talks talks all day on the phone.

Your area looks so comfortable. You have room to move about if you like. I easily get distracted when I get up from my desk because I tend to head towards the kitchen (heh heh).

Thanks for sharing!

Suzy said...

A home office is a great idea. Mine is just a laptop on my dining table. But then I try not to bring things home. thanks for sharing your part of the home and thanks for visiting my blog.

Rebecca A Emrich said...

as always excellent advice. I am currently redoing my home office, and the kids now call it "the office"

Speaking of which are you up do a guest blog post again for march?

Damaria Senne said...

@Taya - I spend way too much time in the kitchen too:-)
@Suzy - Thanks for coming by.
@Rebecca E - I'd be happy to do a guest for March, thanks for asking. I'll email you.

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