What do you do if you want to work from home but you don’t have space for a home office? Working from home can be tricky enough, even more so if you are having to do it from the kitchen table with kids underfoot!
Before we dig into this, I want to say that this will be different depending on what your job is. When I was sewing and creating sewing patterns, life was different and my work stuff was all over the place. It was totally chaotic and I kept everything organized in piles everywhere. It wasn’t great!
It drove me bonkers and was a pain to clean the house. Now I work completely online and my life is so much easier!
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Work from home without a home office by adapting your current set up
Can you find a nook or convert a closet?
In our house, we have this funny little nook which wouldn’t be useful normally, the pole (on the left of the picture) is a support beam that we need so the ceiling doesn’t cave in!
So we decided to pop in some shelves and a desk even though at the time I had no idea which direction my little Etsy business would go in. It just seemed to be the most logical thing to do with the space.
Needless to say, years later, this has become my workstation. We do have a spare bedroom which also has a desk but the room is freezing in the winter and the polar opposite in the summer, so I end up in the nook most of the time.
My friend Bushra converted a closet and made that into her workspace until she moved somewhere which had space for her own office.
A client converted the kids reading nook into her office space. They had grown out of it and no longer used it, so she reclaimed it as her own.
Before you poo-poo the idea. Take a walk around your home with fresh eyes and ask yourself whether there is anything that no longer gets used that you can repurpose or maybe you have a closet full of clutter that you can clear out to make space for your own little office.
It might mean getting rid of some bulky furniture, taking out or putting in shelves. It doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated, in fact, simple is often better.
How about you work from home without a home office but instead a work box…
On one of our SPARK Mastermind calls, Angela was just in the process of setting her business and getting set up at home and she was asking the rest of us what our essentials were. Di showed off her office in a box. Like me, Di’s work is all online (she runs the site Superlucky, is an author and consultant).
Like many people, she doesn’t have a dedicated office space for her work but instead works from the kitchen table with her laptop. To keep everything all in one place and easily accessible/clean-up-able she uses a box similar to this. She keeps all her work-related things in here, laptop rest, pen case, post-it’s, notebook etc.
When she is ready to work she takes out the box and gets stuck in and then when she is done, she just puts everything back in the box and the box lives in the dining room cupboard.
Creating a work mindset ritual
What I love about Di’s set-up is not only the ease and function but the fact that it creates a mindset where once she has to take out her workbox she is switching from mom mode into work mode. I find this works for me having the desk set up. I never use the desktop computer for non-work related compter stuff these days, instead, I’ll do it on the laptop.
That means that my brain automatically switches into work mode as soon as I sit down at the desk. This really helps with productivity especially if you work from home.
Work from home without a home office but with a laptop
The great thing about laptops is that you can work virtually anywhere. One of my Wonder Moms is an author (You can read about Kathrine’s business story here) and so she can set up her office for the day wherever feels comfortable.
Some days I prefer to sit on the sofa and work or if the weather is nice, out in the yard. Which is great but has the drawback of not having everything handy. Even when you work all online there are some things you need to store or have within arms reach.
If Di’s office in a box system doesn’t work for you then set up a couple of box files or a specific drawer/shelf for your work-related stuff is a must. If you have everything scattered around the house you will end up wasting so much time and energy looking for what you need when you need it.
I use Muji storage boxes, everything I need is on the shelf above my desk. But your storage spot could be anywhere that you can make the space for it.
When you have a lack of space it does help you focus on what you really need and what you really need to keep.
What if your business is not just online?
This is where things get a bit trickier. For example, Kaliah from Sakura Milk Jewelry has two little boys and she makes jewellery at home. To stop the little ones from getting into her work gear she converted her loft space into a workshop.
You might need to do a similar type of thing, no loft or attic? How about a cupboard? Sometimes you need to get creative with your solutions!
What do you really need on hand?
This really depends on your business, these are the necessities that I always have within arms reach…
- Masking tape, my prefered brand is MT but I’m a sucker for anything cute!
- I Bullet Journal and my favourite notebook is the Rollbahn diary, I get through two a year.
- Mildliner highlighters, I love these and all of the colours, I have a huge pot full!
- Whiteboard notebook, I got this from Daiso. It’s 5 pages of whiteboard and can stand up, one of those cheap handy things that now I can’t live without!
- My favourite pen is the Uni Style Fit Multi pen, 3 colours. I have numerous pens, all have black but then I have different colours as the extras.
- And of course, Post-it notes. I use these mainly for planning and buying the colours that for the various sections of my brand to make it easier for me to plan!
To Wrap Up…
- Get really specific on what you actually need, don’t clutter up your workspace with things you use once in a blue moon.
- Keep all your work-related things together, better for organization and will save you time as you are less likely to lose things.
- Recycle and repurpose, look at your home with fresh eyes, what can you change or get rid of that would open up space for a work area?