Making the Most of a Home Office

It would be nice if all freelance writers could hide away in a cabin by the beach or at least in a room away from the rest of the family. Many writers do not have either option so it is important that writers in need of space make the most of the space that they have available.

Steps to Optimizing a Work Space

    1. Never, never, never start a pile – of anything. Once the pile starts it only continues to grow. Eventually it spreads and takes over and makes it impossible to find anything that your really need.

      a. Have an inbox for mail that you go through every day.
      b. File paperwork as it is generated instead of promising that you will do it later.
      c. Set up a filing system for all the projects that you currently have going so that you can easily access each one.

    2. Make each square inch count. It is important to have space to put up notes, thoughts or a calendar. The better you use the space that you have then the less space you will need in the end.

      a. Put up cork board on the walls above your desk or computer so that your walls become your bulletin board.
      b. Put up a shelf that can hold your computer and serve as an additional work space (just commit to keep the piles away or you will regret that one).
      c. Keep everything within rolling distance. If you can reach the filing cabinet easily then you are more likely to file as you go. Keeping things hand makes them easier to use.

    3. Plan on working when others are working (or just not around). This may require getting up in the early morning hours or staying up late or working through nap time.

      a. Having an easy project at the ready will help get your muse moving when the time is right for you to be able to work.
      b. Do your research and emails at a time when there is the most activity and the least amount of concentration required for progress.
      c. Schedule outings for the kids so that you know you will be home alone and unplug the TV so that you won’t be distracted.

    4. Create a system that works for you. There has to be a way for you to know what projects are due and when they are due no matter where you are located.

      a. Keep a list on an online site – you can set sites like Google to email you when a particular date approaches.
      b. Use a day planner – electronic or paper is not the issue but having something that you can take away from the office IS important.
      c. Keep a big calendar that the whole family can see that way everyone will know when a busy day is coming up and can clear out accordingly.

    A home office may be a space in the living room (or kitchen in my case) or an actual room where you can close the door. No matter where or what your office space it is important that you figure out how to utilize that space to advance your freelance writing career.

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  • Hi Kathryn,

    Thank you for stopping by my blog and adding your input into book proposals! I appreciate all of your above tips about maximizing our home office. My office is the dining room table and it often is hard to keep organized amidst the kids’ games, family life, and school work!

    • Hey Jody – I’m in the kitchen myself. I’m learning more and better ways to maximize my space and to organize as well. I just finished rearranging my space (motivated by my own article 😉 ). I can already tell it’s going to be better for everyone!

  • Wait…what? Never start a pile of anything?! Easier said than done in my case. All I have are piles. Sometimes they make sense….sometimes they don’t. Wholeheartedly agree with 3 & 4, though it took me a long time to figure it all out.

    • No piles – never – it’s a law in some states :D.

      I have discovered that if I start a pile it grows and spreads and soon all I have is piles. If I sort and file as I go then I can actually keep up with deadlines, invoices and even children (cause they can get lost in those piles at times).

  • Oh no. Don’t take away my piles. I really do know what’s in them. I have managed to keep a fairly clear area on my desk. I also organized my bookcases, so they’re tidy.

    I’m improving. Truly, I am.


    • The trouble with piles is that its too easy to knock them over and then where will you be? I have started trying to create folders for my work and keeping those folders in a small portable filing cabinet so that I can take it with me no matter where I might be working that day. It’s definitely helping to keep my spaces pile free! Oh – and consistently 😀 filing!