Home Office Tips

When it comes to Home Office, we've been there, done that, now serving 120 tips in 14 categories ranging from A Jack of All Trades to Telecommuting.

You Really Do Need a Box of Tricks

When you decide to start working at home, you will need to think about what skills you need to be successful. Yes, you are very good at what you do, but you are going to either learn how to do everything yourself or have a contact list filled with the people who can do things for you. Here's what you will need to know before you start:

- You are going to need to know about marketing. Not just telling people you run into about what you do, but the real, hardcore marketing it will take to grow your business.

-You are going to need to know about doing minor repair to your computer. When you are working on the computer all day at work and a virus or something else gets into your system you can call tech support. In your home office, you will be tech support. You will need to get at least a basic understanding of how to fix problems that come up with your computer or you will find yourself spending a lot of money on tech guys.

-You are going to need to know how to negotiate with vendors. If you've never worked with vendors, or worked with very few, you will want to talk to some people who work with them to learn how to negotiate. Your business operating costs can be cut significantly if you can negotiate down prices with vendors.


Be realistic about your capabilities

You've researched how to add a room to your house. You have all the details, but do you really want to do it yourself? Do you have the time, the manpower, the equipment, and the needed skills? Be realistic about what you really can tackle yourself. If necessary, don't feel bad about scaling back your involvement and becoming your own contractor. Knowlege is power and now that you know how to do something even if you hire someone else to do it you will be much more in control, knowing what and how it needs to be done.


Using keywords to refine an Internet search

You may not know much about the topic you're searching; that's why you're searching it, right? Start with a couple of high level words and then look through the results for words that describe more closely what you want. For example, suppose you would like to install a Pergo-like floor in your house, you might start by entering "Pergo floor" in your search engine. The results will show you that Pergo is one brand among many laminate floors. A refined search on "laminate floor" and "how to install" will provide you with the needed information. Other searches on "laminate floor" and "price" and "cost" will tell you how much you can expect to pay. Putting two words for essentially the same thing (i.e. price and cost) in your search will increase your chances of results that provide the information you're looking for.


Almost anything short of brain surgery can be a do-it-yourself project

Thanks to the internet and powerful search engines like Google and Yahoo, there's not much you can't do yourself these days, but you have to be prepared to do the background work and research. If your project is a simple one you are likely to find several helpful webpages with your first query. For more complex projects using keywords to refine your search and organizing your findings are essential factors to success.

Do I need an entire room for my home office, or will the corner of the dining room do?

Create an artificial boundary if needed.

Many people who work at home do not have an entire room to devote to work space. Instead create a boundary with room screens, curtains, or other false dividers so that you will have the illusion of a separate space. It will help you focus and keep others away from your office.

Should I file my work information with my personal files since that would be easier?

Separate your work files from your home files.

While it may seem like a good idea to combine the financial and administrative files in one cabinet, doing so can complicate your home and work life. Keep everything separate and marked with "work" or "home" so that you can find information easily.

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Patricia Walters-Fischer