Last Updated October 29th, 2018

How To Claim Your Work at Home Space

How To Claim Your Work at Home Space

Many people who work at home don’t really have a good space for it. Not all homes have enough room for a separate home office, but having a dedicated work at home space makes a big difference.

I know that it’s easy to feel as though you don’t need a separate space. You may be working in your kitchen or living room and feel that you’re doing just fine.

And maybe you are.

But it’s more likely that you could do better if you had your own work at home space. Somewhere that you won’t be interrupted so often. A place where you have more control over the background noise. And where you can keep all the stuff you need to be productive without someone moving it on you.

Where Will Your Work At Home Space Be?

The first question you need to answer is where your work at home space can be in your home. Depending on your home, this may be easy or difficult to answer.

The best solution is to find a room in your home where you can set up a home office. A place where you can close the door has a lot of advantages when you’re working at home.

Some work at home jobs require this, for example. If you’re on the phone with customers a lot, they want you able to close the door so that you have a quiet place to work. You may also be required to have a door you can close if you have to keep information private for legal reasons.

But not every home has an available space where you can do this. And not every work at home job requires it.

It’s not at all uncommon for a work at home space to be a small desk in whatever nook you can fit it into. While it’s not as private as a room with a door, it can be enough.

And if you can’t manage that, there many people who work at home at the kitchen table or sitting on the couch. Do what you have to do to succeed.

Truth be told, this flexibility is one of the great things about working at home. If your job or business doesn’t require that you stick to one spot, you can work in a lot of different places. You can even head out to the coffee shop or coworking space if that suits your needs.

corner home office

What Are The Basics Your Work At Home Space Needs?

The next thing you need to consider when planning your work at home space is what you need in there. This can vary quite a bit, depending on what kind of work you do at home. Start with the basics. You can upgrade later.

If your business is primarily or entirely online, such as blogging, the main things you need are your computer and desk. If these can be separate from what the rest of the family uses, that’s a big step in the right direction. There are few things more frustrating than having to sort out conflicting priorities that keep you entirely from working.

When you have only one computer in the family and the kids need the computer for their homework, what do you do but give it up? That’s why you need your own if at all possible.

A space to work on your business also makes it easier for you to set rules about when you are working. Even if you aren’t in a separate room you can set rules about what the kids can and cannot bother you with while you work.

The biggest challenge comes in when you can’t claim a separate space directly and you have to set up your home office in a shared area, maybe even a shared computer.

No matter whether you share your workspace or have a quiet home office separate from everything else, you have certain needs in order to work productively. This can include a calendar, reference materials, telephone, writing materials and so forth.

Your computer needs the software that you use in your business. You may also find that a dual monitor setup helps with productivity (seriously, try it if you can, it’s amazing!). These things require space.

laptop home office

Talk To Your Family

When you know which space you want to work in and what you need for it, talk to your family about it. It doesn’t matter how simple your needs are or if you need to claim a full room. Talk to them.

Sometimes they’ll be happy to let you have the space. Other times you’ll meet up with resistance.

It can be hard on a family to give up a portion of the house to be used as a home office. There are always other things the space could be used for.

This is why many home offices are also guest rooms. It’s a good way to compromise on the space. You may still need to talk to guests about your needs during their visit, but you’ll have the room to yourself much of the time.

Even when your family is understanding about your needs, you need to ensure that they will respect what this means. Just because they want you to use the space you need doesn’t guarantee that they truly understand what you will need from them when you work at home.

bedroom home office

Go Beyond The Basics

My work at home space has changed a lot through the years. What I’ve been able to claim has depended on the space we had available and the needs of the family.

When my kids were little, my home office was shared with my family. I had my own computer, and a shared desk (big desk). Much of my work time was with either one of the kids or my husband on the other computer. It made for a bit of a challenge when working.

With this little space I kept a part of the desk and a file cabinet for my work. As I do work entirely online, my needs in terms of space are relatively few.

But the real hardship was having other people underfoot when I wanted to work in peace. Sharing my space meant that I had to claim my space mentally as much as physically. I couldn’t let what the others were doing on the computer distract me overmuch. Playful children didn’t make that easy.

These days, I have a lovely home office with my own desk and a door I can close. Working in there is so much more comfortable and productive. And of course, my kids are older and much better at letting me work most of the time.

Think about the little things you need to keep your workday going smoothly. Throw in a water bottle and for the most part, I’m good to go most days. But other people need more.

Some people like some background noise as they work, for example. I always suggest streaming music rather than turning on a television, simply because music is much easier to ignore. Music can make your day much more pleasant without taking away from your ability to work.

Puzzling out the little details on how you can set up your home office space takes time, but it’s worth the effort. You can increase your productivity and your contentment with your work when your workspace suits your needs. In time, you’ll find exactly what you need to make an amazing home office for yourself.

wood home office

Where Does The Money Come From To Do All This?

If you don’t have a lot of money to spare, it’s difficult to figure out where to get the money to create that perfect work at home space. Not everyone can afford to just go out and buy a new desk or the other things you’d like to have in your home office.

So what do you do?

There are a few options for setting up your home office on a budget.

Option 1: Garage Sales

You might be amazed by how much stuff you can get for your home office at garage sales. I paid $5 for my office chair at a garage sale, and it is by far the best office chair in the house. My husband has tried to claim it a time or two, even though we bought it for my office, but that only gets him the death glare. It’s not happening. Mine!

Pay attention to garage sales in your area, and you can fairly quickly pick up a desk chair, file cabinets and anything else your home office needs without spending a fortune.

You may even find some of the electronics you need, although you have to be very careful that everything still works, and get any computers checked for viruses before doing anything. Used electronics are kind of a gamble, but you can make it work.

Option 2: Build It Over Time

You can also improve your work at home space over time. Start with the basics, and then add to it as your budget allows.

If you have a laptop or tablet you can work on, for example, all you need is a quiet place where you can work undisturbed. It doesn’t have to be in the perfect spot in your home. Look around and figure out what the best space is for you to work.

Work toward having the money for the next thing you’d like for your workspace. It might be a desk, a second monitor, a better place to keep your supplies, whatever it is you need.

Remember the money you spend on your home office is an investment. You may be able to write some or all of it off on your taxes as well. But the key thing here is to buy the things that will make you more productive so that you can earn more money from home.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated September 20th, 2018

What To Do When Your Home Office Is The Guest Room

What To Do When Your Home Office Is The Guest Room

It’s wonderful when you can spare a room for your home office, but it might have a secondary function a few times a year. It’s a guest room as well. Your private workspace becomes a place for your guests to sleep. You’re out of your perfectly set up workspace. What can you do when your home office is the guest room?

There are a lot of things you can do when your home office is the guest room to ensure that the space is comfortable for both uses. Some relate to how you use the space when guests are there, while others are all about the setup of the room in general. Make sure your home office setup allows you to be productive and comfortable.

Consider what will happen to your home office when guests are there. Are you moving out or sharing the space? This will help you figure out how best to set up and organize your home office.

Have Guest-Friendly Furniture

You want your guests to feel comfortable when they stay with you, and that means putting some thought into your guest furniture. How do you combine that with the needs of your home office?

You have a few options.

I chose to put a queen size futon in my home office. This way we have both seating and a bed as needed for guests. It doesn’t take a lot of space and is comfortable enough. I’ve slept there when my husband has been sick enough that I wanted to avoid the germs. I store bedding beneath it.

A daybed is another alternative. The disadvantage is that it’s more narrow, which may be uncomfortable for most adults, and won’t work at all for couples.

A Murphy bed is a more expensive option but puts the bed even more out of the way. That can be a huge advantage. The disadvantage is that you have to remember how much space it takes when setting up all the rest of the furniture unless you want to move things around every time the bed is used.

home office brown

Keep Your Home Office Organized

You don’t want to spend a ton of time cleaning before company arrives when your home office is the guest room. This makes keeping your home office organized very important.

Let’s start with the paper shredder. Have an easy way to get rid of that paper clutter before it gets bad. You know it will. An easily accessible shredder improves the chances that you will stay ahead of the mess.

Figure out what kind of organization system will work for you. My home office has a lot of built-in drawers and cabinets, and I take advantage of those quite extensively. If you don’t have this kind of advantage, there are a lot of organization supplies you can buy which will help you keep the clutter under control.

Try to keep your cables organized where possible. Securing them to the underside or back of your desk will give your home office a cleaner look when guests are over. It also keeps them out of your way.

Your organization supplies can be used to give your home office character as well. A cork board can be used to keep up important reminders and to display family photos or artwork.

A rolling cart to hold your supplies can be a big help if you want to get a lot of your office supplies out of the room when guests are over. The more mobile your supplies are, the less effort it will take to move them when company comes over.

You may also want a rolling desk for when your home office is the guest room. This can be the most effective way to move your computer set up with the least fuss.

Whatever you do, make sure your home office is comfortable for you. That’s the first purpose of the room, after all. If it doesn’t work for you, figure out how to make things better.

Consider Taking Time Off When Guests Arrive

When you have company, it may already be your plan to take the time off or at least work fewer hours. If your work is flexible enough and you can afford the financial hit or have paid vacation time, this may be your choice.

Taking time off won’t work for everyone. No one expects to always have the day off when company comes over when you work outside the home, so don’t assume you have to do so when you work at home. It’s nice when you can afford it and it fits into your work schedule, but it’s not always possible.

home office white

Explain To Guests That You Will Need The Room During Work Hours

Sometimes you may need to keep using your home office as an office even when you have company. This is something you should discuss with guests before they arrive so that they understand that you will need to use their room during the day.

Obviously, you cannot use your home office while your guests are sleeping. This won’t work if you work at night.

But if your work hours are during the day, you may be able to continue working as usual. Explain to your guests that they need to treat you as though you are away at work even though you’re just a room away. It’s what you’d have to do if you had a job outside the home, after all.

Show them the space that you will need to have left alone so that you can work. You don’t want their luggage on your desk or office chair, for example, when you want to start working. Point out things that should not be disturbed.

It may help to have a dresser or other furniture in your home office that is specifically for guests to use. Some space in the closet may help as well. Guests are more likely to respect your space if they have a spot that is clearly for their use.

Set Up A Temporary Office Elsewhere

If your work setup is something you can move, you can work in a different space. This will probably be one of those less than ideal places such as your bedroom. This may be your only choice if you need to work night hours or otherwise cannot use your office space due to your guests.

Just as with your regular home office, do your best to make it a distraction-free environment. The kitchen table isn’t ideal for this reason. You don’t want to be in the middle of everything that’s happening in your home while you have company; you want to be a little away from it so you can be productive.

A rolling desk can be a huge help if you have to move your home office space around. Not only can it be put into a corner of your office when more space is needed, but you can also move it into another room with relative ease.

home office blue

Be Ready For Challenges

Whatever your solution may be, discuss it with your guests before they arrive so that they’re prepared to deal with the reality of you working at home. Many people have trouble understanding that working at home is just like working any other job. Make sure they know that they need to let you work.

If guests need a lot of reminders, try to have another family member help keep them away as you work. You do not want to get in trouble with your job if you can’t keep a quiet work environment due to guests. If that’s a need, be very clear about why you need quiet and why there are no exceptions, not even to tell you they’re headed out to do something for the day.

Of course, if you can be interrupted, tell them that too, and tell them how much or when. Let them know if too many interruptions will lengthen your work day or give you other problems.

Hopefully, you will have enough time off work that you can enjoy your guests. Make sure your needs and their expectations are discussed in advance so that you don’t have a lot of problems when your guests are in your home.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated February 20th, 2018

Home Office Features To Include So That You Will Love Your Work Space

Home Office Features To Include So That You Will Love Your Work Space

A well set up home office makes working at home much easier. It gives you a space to work that is all your own, for those times when you have to be completely focused. While there’s something to be said for working in other parts of the house or even somewhere else entirely, there are times that you can’t beat your home office. These home office features will help make it a comfortable and productive place to work.

We won’t discuss your computer in this post. You should get a good computer for your home office, probably a laptop if you work elsewhere as well. There are other things, however, that you will only use in your home office.

Dual Monitors

If you’ve never used dual monitors, you might be amazed by how much they help your productivity. The ability to have more things open and visible while you work is a huge help.

If your home office computer is a laptop, its monitor may be one of your dual monitors. In my experience, it’s not as nice as having two monitors side by side, but it works much better than having only the laptop monitor to look at.

An Ergonomic Office Chair

An ergonomic office chair will make working in your home office so much nicer. It should be a chair that you are comfortable in even when you work for hours at a stretch.

Your office chair is one of those things you should splurge on if you can. It will pay you back with years of comfortable work. There’s a lot to be said for keeping back pain at a distance as much as possible. You have to sit properly in it for the best effects, of course.

home office ideas

A Large Enough Desk

Your desk needs to be large enough to handle the demands you put on it daily. Can it handle the papers you put on it? All of your equipment?

If your desk can’t handle your daily work routine without feeling cluttered, it’s not big enough. Sometimes that can’t be helped, but do what you can. If your home office is in a small space, there’s only a little you can do.

I strongly recommend getting a sit-stand desk so that you can change positions throughout the day. It’s so nice being able to do that. There are a number of units now that you put on your desk which can raise and lower your monitor and keyboard as you decide to change your position.

Fast Wireless Internet

Fast wireless internet is vital in your typical home office. What would you do without it? Make sure your router is fast enough to handle the demands you put on it as you work as well as what others in your home may need it for.

Fast wireless internet also means you can work elsewhere in your home if you have a laptop or tablet. There will be times that you want that, most likely.

Sufficient Storage

What do you need to keep in your home office? Where will it go? If you can’t keep it organized, your home office needs more storage.

Think about what will work best for your needs before buying anything. Are bookshelves enough, or do you need a file cabinet?

Take full advantage of the space you have, especially if it’s a small home office. Get creative with your storage space if you’re running out of room. Don’t forget any extra space under your desk, so long as you leave enough room for your comfort.

home office ideas

Decor That Makes You Smile

Your home office should feature decorations that make you happy to be in there. It’s your personal workspace – have a little fun with it. It’s a part of your home as well as the place you work.

Just how much fun depends on whether or not someone else will see it while talking to you in a professional manner. No one sees my home office, so I have dragons on my desk. If I had to present a more professional workspace, they wouldn’t be there.

Don’t let your home office decor get in the way of a productive workday. If it’s in your way while you work, find a better place for it.

Paint your home office if you can. Choose a color that will make you comfortable while you work. You want something that helps you feel productive. You can look at the psychology of colors to help you choose something, or just go with one you like.

Great Lighting

A pleasantly lit home office is a great place to work. Natural light is great (so long as the sun doesn’t get in your eyes), but it’s not always enough. Open your window blinds during the day in your home office and let the natural light in while it’s available.

For the rest of the day, have enough light fixtures to provide a good level of lighting. You may want a task light on your desk as well, depending on what you’re doing.

If you want to get fancy with your lighting, look into the Philips Hue. These light bulbs will allow you to adjust your lighting from your smartphone or other smart home devices such as Amazon Echo.

A Door

I know not everyone can have a home office with a door. But if you can manage it, I highly recommend one.

This doesn’t mean your home office has to be a completely dedicated space. Many families can’t manage that. A home office in a guest room or your bedroom still has a door, and when you need to be productive, you should close it. The ability to close out the noise of the rest of the house is not to be underrated.

Minimal Distractions

As much as possible, keep the distractions out of your home office. That’s a part of what the door is for, but don’t go adding other distractions in.

This means no television, including starting something up on one of your computer monitors. It’s fun to watch a show while you work, but you won’t be very productive at all while it’s on, will you? Be honest with yourself. Keep the TV out of your home office in whatever form.

Do what you can to keep pets and other kids out too. A part of that is having a door you can close, but also make plans for when they come into your home office.

I have a spot set up for my cat to nap in my home office, for example. This way she doesn’t try to get on my lap too often. She likes her little bed.

A Great View

Just because you shouldn’t have a lot of distractions in your home office doesn’t mean you should avoid having a great view from it. It does your eyes good to look away from the computer monitor from time to time throughout your day.

If you can’t set your desk up so that it’s easy to look out the window, hang some wall art in your home office. You need something to look at when your eyes need a break from your computer monitor.

A Bit Of Exercise Equipment

A little exercise equipment can help you keep in shape while you work at home. A quick fitness break can help your productivity. Some equipment will make you stop working entirely to use it, but other things can be used while you work.

Equipment can be as simple as some hand weights, or as fancy as a walking desk. You may also want to consider an under desk elliptical. Any of these will allow you to mix some basic exercises into your work day.

Home office exercise equipment isn’t something to break your budget on, but it’s so nice to have. Getting enough activity in each day becomes so much easier.

Slippers

I love keeping a pair of slippers in my home office, especially in winter. I don’t wear shoes much indoors, so slippers keep my feet warm while I work. Cold feet are very distracting.

Share Your Favorite Home Office Features

What home office features do you value the most? What would you love to have that you don’t yet? Share your ideas.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated June 9th, 2017

Help! My Computer Won’t Show The Login Screen!

My laptop computer gave me quite the headache recently. We had a brief power outage while it was plugged and turned on, after which it quit showing me the login screen after going into sleep mode. It would come up just fine if I restarted the machine, but not if I shut it down completely and then turned the computer back on. Suffice it to say, this was a frustrating problem, as I could not even close the laptop without losing the login screen.

This is why you should always be able to do some basic troubleshooting and tech support on your own equipment when you work at home. Usually it will be easier to solve than this problem was. This particular problem was a massive headache.

Backup Your Files

This kind of problem is the point at which you should think about how good your backup files are. When did you last run a backup anyhow? Now would be a very good time.

I have offsite backup, but decided I really should get around to an onsite backup on an external drive. My old external drive has died. I bought a My Passport portable drive off Amazon, and when it arrived, I started the backup right away. I like redundancy in my backups… plus you don’t have to wait for the download to complete over your internet when you have a local backup.

I’ll skip ahead for a moment and note that I never needed the backup files this time after everything I did to fix this, but I didn’t know this at the time. Better safe than sorry. When in doubt, make a backup.

Search Your Exact Problem And Variations

I searched “windows 10 not showing login after sleep” to see what solutions I would come up with. Lots of suggestions. I also searched every possible issue related to it that I noticed as I went along. This gave me lots of paths to explore.

Run Diagnostics

I realized the problem might have something to do with my profile, as I also started getting messages about my account needing something done so that apps could work between other Windows devices I might use. This was a brand new message to me. I clicked the message and it took me to my account, where I tried to find a problem. It wasn’t very helpful at this point.

There are a number of diagnostic programs you can download from Microsoft when you have these kinds of problems. I tried a number of them, including the Update Troubleshooter, the System File Checker, Startup Repair and I think some others, with no solutions.

Check Other Account Profiles On The Computer

If there are other account profiles on the same computer, log into one and see if the problem persists. If there aren’t other account profiles, make one! This can help you figure out if it’s your profile that is corrupt, or if there’s a problem elsewhere. On my computer, existing accounts could go from sleep mode and give a login screen, but when I tried making a new profile for myself, it still had the login screen problem. Joy.

Whimper. Cry. Reinstall Windows 10.

This is what it came down to for me after a lot of searches, diagnostics, booting into safe mode, and frustration. The one good thing about the whole process is that, aside from the login issue, I could still use my laptop, so I could take breaks from diagnosis and do something else when I got tired of it. A fresh perspective helps sometimes.

But I had to use Recovery to reinstall Windows using the Reset this PC option. This is found under Update & security in your Settings. First pick – the option which did the reinstall but retained my files.

This option does not save everything. Your files are safe, but you will have to reinstall most programs and apps yourself. Fortunately, it gives you a list of removed apps in a file it puts on your desktop after the reinstall. Still, it’s painful.

You can imagine my pain when this didn’t work. Not only that, but it was no longer giving me the restart option, although I could login now after shutting the computer down. Throwing the computer out the window wasn’t really an option, but tempting at this point. I really didn’t want the expense right then.

Fortunately, I didn’t give up immediately. I went to my daughter’s class presentation to give myself a mental break and escape the frustration for a little.

Came back home after getting all the kids from school, and decided to try logging into other profiles one last time. Sure enough, other profiles still worked perfectly. Logged back into mine.

It got better! Suddenly I could see the login screen after sleep with no problems at all. This has continued, so something I did finally solved the problem. I’m assuming it relates to the reinstall, although I really don’t know for certain. I’m just absurdly happy to have my laptop working normally again.

Was This A Warning?

I’ve been joking with my husband that all this was actually a warning from my computer to me about my van. Two days after I got all of this resolved, my middle row van window on the driver’s side was down when I came out to my van. Not a break in. It needed a new regulator. On the weekend, when my mechanic couldn’t get one until Monday.

All that has been taken care of now, and I have warned my husband that I will absolutely scream if the house decides to get in on this. I don’t need more Window problems.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated May 17th, 2017

The WannaCry Ransomware Is A Reminder To Pay Attention To Computer Security

There has been a lot of buzz about the WannaCry ransomware attack because it succeeded in attacking several major companies, including FedEx and the National Health Service in the UK. Overall, at least 200,000 machines were infected. It’s a good reminder that computer security is vital, not only for your home business, but for your personal information.

There are some very basic things you can do that will prevent most attacks of this sort.

Keep Your Computer Up To Date

A security fix in March protected Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012, Windows 10, Windows Server 2012 R2, and Windows Server 2016 from this attack. Microsoft has now issued a fix for Windows XP, even though they no longer support it normally.

For Mac or Android devices, keep things updated also. This attack did not target them, but that says nothing for the future.

Have Solid Malware Protection

For reasonably current Windows machines, Windows Defender is a free option that is pretty good. If you have nothing else, make sure it’s turned on. It should just be on your system; you should not need to download it.

BitDefender is a good option as well. I use it on my computers. There’s a subscription fee, but I think it’s worth it.

Use A Password Manager

There are a few reasons why I consider a password manager to be important. I like LastPass. It’s mostly free, and the premium version is very affordable.

First of all, it makes creating unique passwords for each site really easy. The only one I have to remember is my master password, and yes, it’s complex. It can generate random passwords to suit the requirements of any website.

Second, I can access them wherever I need to.

Third, I can share passwords between my account and my husband and kids. This is a paid feature, but it’s worthwhile. It means I can keep track of my kids’ passwords if I should need them, and they don’t have to come running to me saying they forgot.

LastPass considers security very important. They offer two factor authentication as an option, and are quick to respond to issues.

The greatest weakness with any password manager is the end user. If you don’t use a secure master password or if you don’t have your computer security up to date, you risk problems.

Never Open Strange Emails

If you aren’t sure about an email, don’t open it. If you open it, don’t open any attachments or click on any links. If it makes you worry about an account, log into that account by typing the URL in yourself, not by clicking a link in the email.

Secure Your IOT

You probably have a lot more on your home network than laptop and desktop computers. Phones, tablets, smart devices of one sort or another… they’re all potentially susceptible to hackers. You can look into options such as CUJO or similar devices.

Make Regular Backups

If you regularly backup your computer, you will have very little to fear from ransomware. There are a lot of very affordable cloud services you can use to protect your data. I like having offsite backups because they’re likely to be immune to any disasters that happen in my home.

Amazon Prime includes free photo storage. If you want unlimited storage for all types of files, their price is very reasonable. It’s not a complete solution, but it’s a start to protect many of your most valued files.

Google Drive gives you 15 GB for free, and has two levels of upgrades available for very reasonable prices. It’s shared across Google Drive, Gmail and Google Photos.

If you want something more complete, go for something like Acronis True Image, which can backup your entire hard drive. It’s considered to be among the best solutions, possibly the best. The price is quite reasonable. Carbonite is also a good choice.

You can also make backups on an external hard drive in your home. They’re very reasonably priced.

All of this may seem like a lot to do, but much of it takes just a little time to set up, and is then easy to use. Most things will update automatically and should mostly just work once set up. They’re a huge help with peace of mind.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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