Tips for Maximum Home Office Efficiency
If you’ve concluded that you want to keep your business at home, you’ll want to do all you can to make that business productive and efficient. Taking a few simple steps will help you make the most of your home business space.
Spend some money on decent furniture. Most of us who work at home spend plenty of time sitting down, often in a chair that was previously banished to the attic because it lacked comfort, style, or both. Although this seating solution is cheap, it’s also a sure road to physical problems. Additionally, if you’re not comfortable in your eBay home office, you won’t be able to put in the necessary hours to make your business a success. For ergonomics and comfort, a good office chair is a must. You should expect to pay several hundred dollars for a decent chair. Among the features to look for are adjustable height and tilt, lumbar support, and padded, adjustable armrests. For help, read this article explaining the various features available and what they do. You can also find plenty of information on office ergonomics at the UCLA Ergonomics Program website.
Your desk or work surface needs to be the proper height as well. For optimum efficiency, your work surface should be generous. Working on a too-small space is inefficient — you’ll have to scatter your equipment and other materials around the room instead of having them all within easy reach.
You don’t have to break the bank to outfit your home office. If you're an experienced eBay seller, then you're probably fairly good at tracking down good deals. Apply those skills to find decent used home office furniture, whether at garage sales, on eBay, or Craigslist.
Another resource is the HomeFurnish website, where you can find an extensive list of links to office furniture companies and other home office equipment suppliers.
Get the right connections. Most eBay business owners agree that a high-speed Internet connection (also known as “broadband”) is essential for running an eBay business. Prices are dropping in many areas — some DSL providers offer service starting at $25 to $30 per month. In addition to increasing your eBay efficiency, broadband is essential if you operate a separate website and plan to modify it.
There are, however, many types of broadband to choose from, including DSL, cable, satellite, and wireless. Speeds vary depending on the provider and the plan. Cable is currently considered the fastest medium and may be the ideal choice for online businesses, although a baseline DSL hookup is probably sufficient for most eBay business owners.
Ideally, you should look for speeds of at least 384Kbps/128Kbps. The first number is the speed at which you download files; the second is your upload speed, when you transfer files or place them at a website. The folks at CNET (www.cnet.com) offer lots of helpful advice for choosing a provider. They also recommend that home business users look for additional features such as free dial-up access (just in case the broadband fails or you’re on the road), multiple email in-boxes with at least 10MB storage for each, and personal firewall and antivirus software.
Get organized. Remember the old saying, “A place for everything, and everything in its place”? In an eBay home business, space is often at a premium. Storage of inventory and maintenance of records can be a challenge. Use file folders, desk dividers, bookshelves, and other storage systems to organize your paperwork and project materials. If you’re working in a small spot, use vertical space — put shelves, folder racks, or other organizing tools above your workspace. If organizing your home is the biggest challenge for your eBay business, you should check out LifeOrganizers, where you'll find helpful tips on organizing your eBay home office. Another resource is the OnlineOrganizing website, which has lots of helpful articles, links to websites on a variety of organizational topics, a referral service for finding a professional organizer in your area, an online product catalogue, and a long list of tip sheets and checklists that will help you get organized and make the best use of your time.
Hire experts for one-time projects. Don’t reinvent the wheel. If you’re facing a one-time task that you don’t know how to handle — like designing your store website, remodeling a room to serve as a home office or storage space, or developing an eBay store logo — it’s much more efficient to pay for a few hours of an expert’s time and get the job done right than to try to learn how to do it yourself. Used sparingly, expert help can really save time and money.
Prioritize and automate your work. Some business efficiency experts recommend a triage system for tasks and paperwork — in other words, you classify tasks and the related paperwork into categories such as “urgent,” “to do soon,” “wait,” and “forget it,” then prioritize your time accordingly.
Others suggest a grading system: On your to-do list, you give each task a grade, with “A” tasks having the highest priority. Then, you don’t allow yourself to move on to a single “B” or “C” task until you’ve completed your A-list.
If you’re having trouble figuring out where your time is going, keep a log of your eBay hours for a couple of weeks, recording what you work on and how long you spend on it. You may be surprised at what you find. For lots of good advice on managing your work time, check out any of the excellent time management books by Julie Morgenstern or David Allen. In addition, consider investing in any of the helpful auction automation tools discussed in Auction Management Tools.