How to Create a Functional Home Office You’ll Actually Want to Use

Before you begin setting up your home office, check out these tips to make sure you think through everything that will affect your space.

1. Designate the space that will become your office.

You will need a dedicated space that will be for the sole purpose of your home office. This may be a simple decision as you have an empty bedroom ready to go, or you may have to rearrange some things in your house or apartment to accommodate it. Some people realize they can’t handle the noise of their family during the day and choose to seclude themselves in a bonus room or garage. Consider how you work, as well as how much space you have to start with.

2. Plan your office with the space available.

Before you begin setting up your office, think of the existing furniture and items that you already have, and measure if necessary, to make sure they will fit comfortably. Also don’t forget to think of the location of electrical outlets and ports as that determines where your cords and cables will be placed. If you’ll be purchasing furniture to go into this space, make sure to get accurate measurements. Leave yourself room to maneuver safely and comfortably. Wall color is another important factor as color affects mood and darker spaces feel smaller and cramped. Make sure you have a light, airy, and uplifting color on your walls that fits your personality.

3. Ensure that the area has enough proper lighting.

Natural lighting is preferable but remember to plan for lamps or fixtures to use on cloudy days and after-hours work. If you want to place your desk near a window, test out the placement for your computer screens to check for glare. You may want to reposition them after testing, and that could affect your layout and furniture choices.

4. Choose a desk or worktop and chair that are appropriate heights for your body.

Ergonomics is a key factor in the success of your time spent working. Serious physical strain can be had if you do not have the proper heights and layouts for your work. If this concept is unfamiliar to you, research it before you begin purchases or setting up your space.

5. Home offices must be creative with storage.

Don’t waste space. Store only what you need and go digital and paperless whenever possible. Utilize your vertical space. You can store items above your workspace all the way to the ceiling if needed.

6. Place your everyday office supplies and equipment close by.

Keeping your everyday supplies and equipment close to you will help you be more efficient in your time, physical exertion, and help to prevent you from running low on crucial supplies that are out of sight. Be sure to stock up on paper, ink, batteries, and any other supplies that could run low and affect your ability to work.

7. Set clear boundaries with yourself and others.

Set boundaries for yourself, family, and or roommates. Explain that this space is for the sole purpose of your work, and that it is important that the space isn’t invaded while you’re working. This may mean closing the door during work hours, or asking your cohabitants to keep their noise and volume, as well as their interruptions, to a minimum. Remember, boundaries don’t work unless you make them.

8. Create a schedule that works for your personality type.

Give yourself ample time to eat, break, and work as you create your schedule, and stick to it. Some people prefer a rigid schedule to keep them on track and others need more flexibility. Whichever style you choose make sure you account for enough time to prepare and eat your meals and snacks as well as biological and mental health breaks. If you’re the type who will work for hours on end forgetting to eat, perhaps you need a visual or audio reminder (alarm) to remember to go eat your meal or take the breaks that your body needs. If you do need signs or alarms, this should factor into your plan for the space itself.

9. Quality equipment is a must.

Computers, monitors, mice, keyboards, phones, headsets, speakers, lamps, printers, and other office equipment are what allow you to work from home. When you’re in an office its easy to run over to the IT department and grab a new headset, but if you’re working from home and your headset breaks, you may be blocked from working with your coworkers or clients. Research these products before you purchase and setup up your office with quality equipment that won’t fail you. If you use a headset all day to talk to clients, it’s a good idea to have an extra on backup so you aren’t blocked.

10. Manage your attitude and outlook.

Even if this isn’t your first time working from home, you’ll need to focus on your mindset and outlook and adjust your attitude to this change in work behavior, especially if you’re leaving a job and branching out on your own endeavors. Small business owners sometimes have a hard time making this transition and feel as if they’ve failed somehow because they don’t realize how big of a change this really is. If you struggle working alone, consider scheduling some recurring face-to-face time with clients, colleagues, or friends into your work schedule. If you want to work from home the majority of the time but occasionally get out into the world, consider a coworking space instead of a coffee shop as they are more private and have resources to help you should you need them.

Now that you’ve read all the factors to consider, you can begin planning, assessing, shopping, and setting up your new home office.

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