While it’s so much more relaxed and casual to work from
your home office, you still need to keep in mind that it is
for the purpose of business that you are there. As part of
focusing your mind on the work you need to do to develop and
maintain a business, what you see in front of you is
Why add continually navigating chaos to your work-related
tasks every time you do something? It wastes time and
energy, not to mention causes you to lose focus on what you
need to be doing. Make staying organized part of your work
day and put things away! Get folders for things and even if
all you have is a box or plastic crate, put your folders or
important papers in there. ‘Out of sight out of mind’ has
special relevance here. If your workspace is organized you
will think and see things more clearly. Remove anything that
is not related to business out of your office space entirely
if you can.
There is more than one reason for creating a focused
environment in your home office. For tax purposes,
particularly if it is the case that you only make part of
your income from home, when you are claiming home business
deductions (which you should) then you have to have a clear
delineation to separate ‘home’ from ‘business’. In fact
an actual door on your office is required. (For those lucky
enough to earn their entire income from home, you don’t
need the door but you still need to have an area dedicated
only to business.
In any case you can figure the square feet in your living
space and determine how much is used exclusively for
business. Then you can deduct expenses based on that
percentage for rent, utilities, insurance, etc, in addition
to directly related business expenses such as office
supplies, equipment, etc.
Just be sure you have receipts for every penny you claim.
Another element to organize and to keep a folder marked
‘Taxes’ where you put receipts and invoices all year long
so you are not scrambling at the last minute, and maybe even
missing something that would have been a deduction to your
self-employment income taxes.
Be sure that part of your organization and focus involves
committing your time (scheduling) – where you will sit and
work and do nothing else. Turn on your voice mail and be
sure that your family and friends know and respect your
hours of business just as they would have to if you were
going off to a job. If you have little kids then obviously
this time allocated to your business should be when they are
at school or sleeping if possible.
You really won’t get as much done, or retain as much
information if you are constantly being interrupted by the
doorbell, phone, kids, dog, etc. Of course the kids (and
dogs) are some of the main good reasons you have for
starting a home business; and of course you can’t always
have 100% control over them, but with a little planning and
mutual respect you can have more time for them and still
have a successful business.
Oh – and don’t forget to rest – when you shut down (and put
everything away) at the end of your work time, shut the door
– even if the door is only in your mind. You have to have a
time where you are OFF work – to relax and enjoy the other
facets of your life. Resist the temptation to log back on
your computer every time you get a bright idea. Just write
it down and take care of it next time you go back to work.