I’m excited to announce my new partnership with Savings.com. To celebrate, this post includes coupons to help you save money on setting up your professional home office, as well as tips on how you can be as efficient and professional as possible once you and your home office are ready to roll. So, without further ado:
- If you don’t already know, learn how to make address labels on your home printer – hand-addressed mail looks less official. To help out, here’s a coupon from Office Depot for $30 off your purchase of $150 or more, plus free shipping: http://www.savings.com/ztw7
- Similarly, get an online postage account or a postal machine (see www.stamps.com or www.pitneyworks.com ) Franked mail looks more businesslike than multiple stamps, and the Pitney Bowes Personal Post machine even lets you add small corporate messages to your postmark. Stamps.com has a four week free trial: http://www.savings.com/z1y7 If you do use stamps, be sure they are appropriate – e.g. don’t send something to a client with a “Season’s Greetings” stamp in August, or a “Love” stamp just because the Post Office is pushing them around Valentine’s Day.
- If you don’t have a fax at home, get a free fax number online: there are a lot of deals out there, but www.efax.com has a good basic service for nothing.
- Set up an individual FedEx account – it makes sending overnight packages much easier, and all you need to do it is a credit card.
- If you’re working on a big project, you can easily “expand” the size of your office by incorporating the Post-It Table Top Pad: these white board-sized Post Its are a great way to give a conference-room sized feel to a closet-sized office. They’re made by 3M and here’s a coupon for 17% off: http://www.savings.com/zrok
- Consider a separate phone line, especially if you have kids—and here’s a coupon for an Flip Phone LG 410G + 60 Free Minutes and Free Shipping for only $19.99: http://www.savings.com/zmde
- Sometimes people have trouble believing that you actually work from home – they think that because you’re at home, you’re free. To reinforce this boundary, I recommend:
- -You get caller ID.
- -Start conversations when you’re working at home with “What can I do for you?” as opposed to, “How are you?”
- -Rehearse a few phrases you can use to move the conversation along. For example, “Oh, Hi – I’m working toward a tight deadline….just in the middle of finishing a project….etc. May I call you back tonight?”
Finally, home offices can make you a little peculiar after a while—if you’re not careful it’s awfully easy to begin spending the day in your pajamas. Given this, I recommend establishing routines for working on major projects, returning emails, even getting out in the world. In keeping with the Renaissance attitude I advocate in The Wow Factor, www.thewowfactor-thebook.com you might even get yourself a one-year pass to the local botanical garden or museum if they’re near by, and make use of them when you want to give yourself time to step away and regroup.