Put a Door on it

Posted by Trevor on 7 December 2012 | 2 Comments

For the last 20 years I have kissed my wife goodbye in the morning as I set off for work. With a twinkle in her eye she usually tells me to be careful on my commute. Then I march the ten yards across the kitchen to my home-office, shut the door behind me and start my workday. She doesn’t see me until I decide to go for lunch. Some may think this is funny or strange, but it makes such a difference in terms of productivity, when as a home-based entrepreneur you are mentally able to separate your family life from your work life.

Probably the last thing anybody thinks about when starting a company is how to set up their home office, because they are busy and every day is challenging. This is a fun time, and you have to put all your energy and focus into running the business. There is no time to think about the simple aspects of setting up your office.

If you are thinking of starting your own company, you should get your home office set up in anticipation of that. This will do two things for you and your business. First, you’ll be more productive and will not have to worry about your workspace later. Second, you send out good thought-energy that says, “I’m going to do this! This is real.” Thus, I encourage everyone to get their home office sorted out sooner rather than later. You really don’t get a second chance at getting it right.

What is also very important is to set your office up in a separate space, because you tend to get distracted very easily when working from home. You would be surprised how many people say, “I could use the dining room, and I’ll just put my books and my laptop on the dinner table.” If the dinner table becomes your home office, it is difficult to keep reminding yourself this is a serious business and not a hobby. The separate space also has to have one fundamental thing: a door. Put a door on your space, so you can shut out any distractions, such as inquisitive children. A physical barrier from your life outside work is a necessity for a productive work environment.

In the same vein, a dedicated phone line to that office space is essential. When my wife and I remodeled our current house, we met a lot of contractors who had their own business. What surprised me when I called them was that their wife or their kids would pick up the phone, and dogs would be barking in the background. They didn’t have a dedicated phone number for their business, but I don’t know why that is so when it would cost only $30 a month to add a Voice Over Internet phone line.

Make this physical separation today in anticipation of your new venture and you will enjoy both real and mental advantages. Then when your spouse kisses you goodbye at the office door, and waves at you as if you are setting off on a voyage, it will no longer seem funny or weird.

2 Comments

  1. Coral Levang says:

    Excellent, sound advice!

  2. Randy Perry says:

    How right you are, Trevor. While I did start MCT with a separate office in the home, that was just the start. As we grew, it became apparent that I needed to get even more distance from home activities that were interfering with my work (and the growth of the company). Our solution was to lease some space a half of a mile from home (we eventually took over the entire leased space and then bought the building). It was that level of separation from home that contributed to the overall rapid growth of MCT.

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