Make your home office setup work perfectly for you with these three easy steps.
You’ve done the legwork to figure out if working from home is right for you, and your boss has signed off on the idea. You’ve adjusted your budget accordingly, and you’re ready to make your work from home dreams come true.
One tiny little task is left: crafting the perfect home office that’ll keep you productive.
But how do you know you’re on the right track?
The perfect home office has two benefits: It keeps you organized so you know what you should be doing and where documents are, and it keeps you motivated to work even when your TV and unlimited streaming subscription are right around the corner.
You can create it in three easy steps:
1. Carve out your space
The perfect office space isn’t a corner of your bedroom or your kitchen, or a pillow on top of your stomach on the couch. For long-term success, the perfect home office is a dedicated workspace that has all of the materials you need to do your job right.
First, make sure you plan your space based on what you do. (Click here to tweet this thought.) Let functionality be the first hallmark of your home office space. Make sure your printer, fax machine and phone are easily accessible.
Then let your speciality guide you. If you’re an artist, you’ll need plenty of desktop space for drafting and illustrating by hand. If you’re a freelance writer, a comfortable chair for reading and research might be worth the space.
Don’t forget to leave room for creativity. It shouldn’t be all about business. Part of the benefit of working from home is letting your surroundings inspire you. Avoid defaulting to what you’ve known in cubeland. Decorate with your eclectic style or let pictures of your family be the centerpiece.
Do you do a lot of drafting or thinking? Focus on carving out wall space for white boards. Do you want a jungle of plants? It’s your call. But be choosy. Experiment with different decorations to find out if that poster of the latest Hollywood heartthrob makes you more creative or predisposes you to daydreaming. Keep personality and family involved, but don’t let them distract you
2. The perfect desk space
Once you’ve identified where the desk needs to go, make sure it’s suited to how you work. The perfect desk space leaves you comfortable enough to get a lot done, but engaging enough to keep the creative juices flowing.
Yes, you still need to clean up after yourself. You might not be able to bill for organizing and cleaning, but 90 percent of Americans find clutter at home and work a cause for negativity. Your home office is no exception, so clean up your workspace at the end of the day. File away papers, resources and binders, and leave yourself a sticky note of things to follow up on. Once a week, clean out and condense those sticky notes, too.
Customize your desk space to make yourself more productive. The real freedom of working from home is absolute customization. You can figure out your weaknesses and put tools in your desk space to help you work around them, no matter what that might look like to former officemates.
Whether you’re a visual thinker or kinesthetic learner, accommodating your own preferences will go a long way in making you more productive (think huge Post-Its, wall-sized calendars or white-board paint to make your entire desk a notepad).
And don’t just sit there. If you’ve got the space and the know-how, consider a stand-up desk, a desk that can convert to a stand-up or a makeshift desk attached to exercise equipment.
Varying your working routine by sitting, standing and exercising gives you variety throughout the day without having to move from location to location — and, oh yeah, warding off that whole “death by sitting” thing.
3. The perfect office lighting
Stick a lamp in your office and you’re done, right? Not so much. When you work from home, especially without natural light, take lighting seriously. Eye strain from looking at a screen with low lighting is a serious problem for those who work on a computer.
Understand the triangle of lighting. Three kinds of lighting should be in your home office: mood lighting, task lighting and balance lighting.
Mood lighting should be in a soft shade of yellow and on the dim side. Task lighting — the lighting closest to where you work — should be bright and white to help you zero in on your work. For computer users, balance lighting is a soft white or yellow glow powerful enough to even out the computer light and help you avoid eye strain.
Use different lighting for different tasks to create moods. The good news about investing in different kinds of lighting is that making use of these three moods can help you be more productive and program you to respond to certain cues.
Train yourself to start shutting down for the day by switching to mood lighting toward the last half-hour of your workday. Or use a particular task lamp for all of your hand-drawn illustrations so that when you turn the lamp on, it helps trigger a certain mindset for a specific task.
Ready to work? When you pay attention to your home office desk, lighting and workspace, you can jump right to the benefits of working from home.
What home office tips do you wish you’d learned early on?
Look sharp! Sarah Greesonbach is a full-time freelance writer with Greesonbach Creative, a distinctive copywriting and content studio of one. She also blogs at Life Comma Etc about back-to-basics food, better relationships and more money for everybody, notwithstanding the occasional elegantly-posed cat photo.