People who’ve never worked or run a business from home don’t understand the challenges. Because others imagine you spend your days on the sofa eating M&Ms and watching Doctors, it’s sometimes hard to make them believe you really do work.

Getting your space organised not only helps you feel more professional, it sends a firm signal to those who might not take your business as seriously as you’d like. So here are some tips to set up and organise your home workspace

1. Keep Storage and Home Separate

If you’re running a retail operation, get out of storing stock at home as soon as possible. Whilst it’s the cheapest and most convenient way to start, having boxes at home quickly becomes a logistics nightmare when the business grows. Self storage units up and down the country are being snapped up by owners of small businesses for the low cost, the convenience, and for the friendly welcome they provide.

As well as storage for stock, it’s also a handy place to store marketing materials such as brochures or business cards. The availability of large lockers, such as those offered by Big Yellow, means even those with modest storage needs can free up space at home for a more professional, uncluttered office area.

2. Maximise Cloud Usage

Whilst some paper records are inevitable, there are plenty of records that can be kept in purely digital form. Even insurance companies offer PDF certificate downloads these days, so the notion of digital storage is already mainstream.

Experiment with a couple of free accounts such as Dropbox, Google Drive or iCloud to test the waters before paying for storage if this is a new concept for you.

3. Claim a Corner

Most people can find a small area of the house to lay claim to. Whether you’re mostly desk bound or just use your computer for record keeping and emails, having a desk or table where you go to work helps you get into a professional frame of mind. Not everyone has an entire spare room, but most can lay claim to a corner of the bedroom, living room or kitchen. Make sure you set ground rules against anyone borrowing equipment so you know it’ll be there when you need it.

desk in the corner of the bedroom – by Shutterstock

4. Repurpose Furniture

If you’re sharing work and living space you won’t want industrial looking office furniture spoiling the cosy look of the living room. Instead, use what you have or buy furniture that’s as stylish as the rest of your decor. Some desks are very attractive pieces of furniture in the their own right, and if you can afford (or have space) for one that also has drawer space you have inbuilt storage.

work where you can – by Shutterstock

If that option is out and you’re using the dining table, clear out a drawer or cupboard in existing furniture and use it purely for office stationery. Don’t forget your vertical space. Open shelving is easy to fit, fashionable, and very handy for storing anything you don’t want little fingers to get into.

5. Draw Firm Lines Between Work and Leisure

At the end of the day, power down the computer rather than leaving it on standby. Having to boot up and open programmes will curb the temptation to take one more peek at anything work related. Do the same with email. Have a dedicated email address and set it to autorespond during the evenings if possible. Gmail has a ‘vacation mode’, and this is ideal. Some hosting companies, if you work off your own domain, will also allow you to customise automatic email responses.

Contrary to popular belief, working from home isn’t always an easy option. It takes self-discipline, self-motivation and plenty of self-control. Getting your workspace organised and efficient is a vital step on the ladder to success.

Drew writes for Big Yellow Self Storage and often procrastinates when it comes to tidying his desk.