Nearly anyone can create a home office that is great for social networking, shopping online, and cruising the internet. But setting up the perfect home office that is conducive to work and encourages productivity can be challenging. It is critically important to have a home office space that allows you to focus, concentrate, and get the job done right and to a high standard. But don’t forget that your home office should also be comfortable. Achieving the right balance of comfort and efficiency will help you to create a positive, productive home office space which will allow you to complete almost any work related task.
Here are ten simple steps to creating the perfect home office that is both structured and productive.
Determine your usable space
In a perfect world, we would each have a spacious room entirely available for our home office. In the real world, this is hardly ever the case. When creating the perfect home office, begin by determining what space in your home is best suited for your home office. Perhaps a section of your dining room or a portion of your finished basement can be partitioned off with a pretty folding screen, or a large walk-in pantry in your kitchen would actually be a great space for a computer desk. How about replacing the queen sized bed in the guest bedroom with a pull-out sofa sleeper to allow room for an office corner? One good thing to keep in mind while determining your usable space is that the IRS will allow you to claim a home office deduction only if the space is used exclusively as an office.
Draw up a floor plan for your perfect home office
Before outfitting your home office, measure your usable space and write down those measurements. It’s easy to go to a Big-Box store and purchase a desk that while in a space with a massive floor plan and high ceilings, looks small, however when you actually get it into your home, it may be larger than you thought. You’ll need to allow room for drawers and filing cabinets to open. Also, don’t forget to take basic safety matters into account. To minimize strain on your eyes, your computer monitor will need to be positioned just above eye level, and about an arm’s length away. Organizational items such as surge protectors and cable organizers are also a very worthwhile investment. Make sure that your keyboard and mouse can be kept at elbow level in order to prevent repetitive motion injuries.
Arrange your space to allow for maximum productivity
What tasks will you need to complete on a daily basis? These should be easily accessible to you. For example, if your job involves the packing and shipping of merchandise, make sure you have a flat, usable work space for items such as mailing envelopes, stamps, and return address labels. If you have to take all of these items out of a closet, then make sure you have an easily accessible platform to work from, this will be a huge time saver.
Unsubscribe from distractions
Because one of the biggest distractions in your home office will be the internet, unsubscribe from email lists and newsletters than are not of value to you. Create labels and filters in your email account. Rather than letting emails hang out long-term in your inbox (where they can quickly become overwhelming) sort them according to tasks and assignments.
Lay down some ground rules
Are other family members going to be utilizing your home office space? If so, make sure to let them know what hours are okay for them to use your space, and what hours are reserved for your use. It’s also important to let friends and family members know during what hours you’re available for leisurely chats on the phone. Even though you’re at home, it’s important to establish regular business hours. Of course, you have the freedom to make these business hours whatever you want, so feel free to experiment to learn what your optimum work times are.
The perfect home office must be comfy!
If your home office looks and feels like a sterile office cubicle, it is not likely that you will want to spend time there. Add in some things that make you smile, and some items that make you feel happy and appreciated. A cool retro typewriter on your bookshelf may help you to feel creative as you work. Maybe a framed photo of your family above your desk may help you to feel inspired. If your office space lacks natural light, paint it white to maximize your lighting. Otherwise, paint it a favorite color, such as a stimulating orange, or calming light green, maybe Job Stock red? You may also want to consider wallpapering just one wall with a funky, enlivening pattern to make this space your own.
Invest in a scanner
A crucial component of a home office is creating a system that reduces clutter, and a desktop scanner is an awesome de-cluttering tool. Receipts for your taxes, contracts and invoices – these are all things that can be scanned and stored electronically. To create an efficient scanning system, have one designated folder or file for items “to be scanned.” Scan your paperwork at a designated time, (whether you need to do it once a day or once a month is up to you) then the scanned items can go right into your shred bin. If you have a lack of space, invest in a travel scanner, which is no larger than a cardboard paper towel tube. If you have the space, invest in an all-in-one printer/scanner/copier to maximize your efficiency.
Incorporate some feng shui
Feng shui, the ancient Chinese art of placement, has a few basic principles that are great to keep in mind for your home office. According to feng shui, it is important to place your desk in a “commanding position,” meaning that you should not have your back to the door. Instead, position your desk further from the door and not in line with it. This will help to create a strong and successful energy in your work area.
Don’t skimp on your chair
More and more studies have recently shown the importance of a good, ergonomic desk chair. They are essential not only for your basic comfort, but because sitting up straight allows more oxygenated blood to reach your brain.
Pot a plant
Any kind of small house plant is a nice choice for your home office because the green foliage helps to soften any environment. Plus, it will enrich your air with oxygen, and even filter and remove toxins, and microbes from the air. Some great, low-maintenance choices for indoor office plants include spider plants, bromeliads, rubber plants, and snake plants.