By Gareth Bull

With the rise of freelance work and small business entrepreneurs, there has never been more workers setting up shop in their homes. Here are some tricks to making the most of your home office and the habits that will make it as effective (if not more so) than that corner cubicle you’re used to.

Pretend You’re Going to Work

If you’ve ever worked from home before, then you know the challenges it brings. Time management and regulating self-distraction being two big ones. But beyond that, people that work from home often struggle with their energy levels. There is an easy solution to this. Pretend you are going to work. Make a lunch or have something easy to heat up so that you don’t spend an hour midday, when you could spend 30 minutes eating. Get dressed and work at a desk. Working from bed and in pajamas may sound fun, but in reality you’re only making yourself sleepy and contributing to the bad posture that you’ll later pay for. If you treat working from home as if you’re in an office, it contributes to minimizing distractions and increasing your energy; which means you can get more done faster, and finish with your work on time, if not before.

Have All the Goodies — and Then Some

Spend the money on making your office setup work for you. If you need an extra monitor, get one. A fancy chair? Get that, too. Make your office a place you like to work in, with all the tools at your fingertips to succeed. Keep your technology up to date and fresh, as this increases your credibility with clients. Make sure you have a good Internet connection and that you don’t have to run out just to make copies or send a fax. Have those tools in your office. While cutting corners to save money may work for a few months when you start out, eventually this will hinder your productivity and waste time that could have been spent working. So make a place in your budget for the office essentials plus a few toys. If this is where you spend most of your time, you won’t regret it.

Simplify Your Processes and Maximize Your Space

Some of this will take time to discover. No one can really know what works for them until they try it and find out. But once you have an idea, set up schedules and processes that are the most efficient for you. After all, isn’t efficiency one of the best parts of working from home?
And maximize your office space. This builds off of having all the tools you need, but also means being honest with yourself about setting up an environment in which you feel you can be the most productive.

Need a window? Then set up shop in front of one. If that’s not possible, then in the very least invest in some good lighting so that you don’t feel boxed in a corner with cubicle syndrome. Get some plants if that’s what will brighten your space, or put on some music. In addition to the possibility of maximal efficiency, working from home also means full license to customize your space in whatever way works best for you. So take advantage of being able to work in your best environment and maximize your office space.

Keeping your space energized, stocked, and fresh will ensure that you can get through the day without being in an office, and truly enjoy the lack of distractions and badly-brewed coffee.