by Julie Morgenstern
Working from home brings with it a lot of freedom - the freedom to make decisions, to set hours and to determine your own workplace culture. Yet the home-based office has its share of challenges. Space is limited. It's hard to stay organized when the lines blur between home and work.
Wireless technology has made it possible to work in any room of the house, which is great - but it can also be part of the problem. Just because you can work anywhere doesn't mean you should. The key to setting up a successful home office is to designate a specific location and clearly define the boundaries of your work space.
10 Ways to Gain an Hour in Each Day
Ask yourself the following questions to help you decide where to locate your office, based on your individual needs, family patterns and personal preferences.
• Full or part time? Home offices used full time require more work and storage space whereas part-time ones can usually afford to be smaller and tucked away (beneath a stairwell, perhaps).
• Compact or spacious? How much space you need also depends on the type of work you do and your preferred style of working. For example, a writer who does all his/her work by computer and phone requires less space than an artist or craftsperson who needs and wants to have much elbow room to spread things out.
• Remote or central? If noise and activity will disturb your concentration, select the quietest, most private location in the house - the basement or a guest room upstairs, perhaps. But if you can block out such distractions, or thrive on them because they make you feel stimulated and connected, select a more public location - a breakfast nook near the dining room, perhaps.
• Multi-use? If the space will be used for a dual purpose - e.g., home office by day, guest room by night - be sure to store papers and supplies in file drawers or containers for quick cleanup when others come in to use it. When sharing your home office with other family members, find a way to separate your files, records and supplies, with designated drawers, cabinets and shelves for your work only.
Once you determine where you are going to work, select the best furniture and technology you can find to create an inviting and comfortable environment.
• Desk: Pick a desk that suits your work style - if you like to spread out, a minimum of 59 inches wide, 33 inches deep will ensure sufficient work surface.
wOw Scenes: Our Desks
• Chair: Invest in a GREAT chair for health and comfort - my favorite is the Freedom Chair by Humanscale. We've had them in our office for years - and I can sit at the desk for hours without any fatigue at all.
• File storage. Even if you do most of your work on the computer, you likely need at least one or two drawers for filing printouts, originals, signed contracts, warranties and other information you prefer to keep on paper. Choose between filing cabinets, portable file boxes or rolling filing carts based on your particular space, style and quantity of paper.
Select the best furniture and technology you can find to create an inviting and comfortable environment.
• Lighting. Whether natural or electrical, be sure you have enough to work in without causing eye strain. Halogen lamps are excellent for increasing brightness in the room with indirect light.
• Technology. Take advantage of technology that's fast and sleek to create an efficient little work space. Set up wireless Internet and printing to reduce cord clutter. Wireless printers allow you to park the printer elsewhere to save desk space. Check out the super-cool Canon MX870 printer-fax-scanner with unique time-saving features specifically for the home-office user - along with a series of video tutorials by me on effectively working from home!
The Big De-clutter: Tips From a Professional Organizer
A home office is convenient; Really, you can't beat the commute. With a designated space and the right setup, your home office - whether you use it to run your business or simply manage your household - can be a productive and energizing space.
Share with us: Where do you work in your home? What type of work do you do in your office? How do you keep the boundaries between work and home clear? What other office organizing tips would you like me to share?
[Photo Credit: iStock]
by Julie Morgenstern