Designing a home office

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Home office
Make your home office comfortable but free from distractions
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Home office design tips

Many people find that working from home offers freedom, comfort, and flexibility. But if your home office is not organized, is full of distractions, or boring, you will not want to work in there! Here are tips for designing a home office that you will actually use and enjoy.

Laptop users
If you use a laptop computer, you may be tempted to work away from your home officeís desk, such as on the couch in front of the TV. While this may feel more comfortable that sitting at your desk, this is not good for your posture and can also strain your wrists. If you get bored sitting at your desk at home and want to work somewhere else in the home (or even out of the office), consider getting a portable laptop desk, which can give your body the support it needs and keep your legs from getting too warm.

Spice it up
You are working at home because you want more freedom, right? Then be sure to add some color to your home office. If it is drab and gray like a cubicle, you will feel uninspired and bored, and it will seem like you are working in a real office. Donít be afraid to use a colorful rug, a bright wall color, and any other decorations that liven up the room. Add colorful art and photographs to your walls.

You should also do your best to design your home office in a room that has a window. Exposure to natural light releases feel-good chemicals in the body, so if you are stuck in a windowless room all day, you may find yourself feeling glum. However, be careful with the layout of your home office; if you have a window, you need to be sure you don't have your computer in a position where there is a glare.

Avoid distractions
While you may be working at home, remember, you still have to work! I can tell you from personal experience that it can be hard to focus when working at the house. When designing a home office, make sure you create a space that truly feels like an office. It is best if the office can be in a room with a door that closes rather than in an open room like a breakfast room. If you live with roommates or a family, you will really value being able to shut the door when it gets noisy in order to focus and get some work done.

Also, when designing a home office, do not put items in the room that may distract you. While having a television in the room may sound like a great idea at first, you may have trouble concentrating with that temptation. And donít even think about keeping video games in there! If you do not require a TV for your work, avoid putting one in your home office. If you like having background noise, instead, put in a CD player or iPod speakers so you can listen to mellow music while you work.

While some people enjoy putting digital picture frames on their desks, that may be too distracting for some. I especially have trouble with those; I get mesmerized and find myself watching the slideshow rather than focusing on my task at hand, so I donít allow them in my home office.

Get organized

If your home office looks like a tornado has ripped through it, it will scare your visitors and make you dread going in it. In order to make your home office a place where you can actually be productive, design it in a way that allows you stay very organized.

Donít let your desk pile up with stacks of paper. Invest in a sturdy file cabinet. If you work with multiple clients, you can create a file for each client. You can also create a folder for taxes, receipts, invoices, health insurance, and so on. While it is great to keep things filed digitally, it isnít a bad idea to have paper copies of records within reach.

Do you have wires from your computer, screen, mouse, printer, fax machine, and other electronics hanging everywhere? You may want to invest in a cord organizer. These allow you to bind your cords together and keep them out of the way.

You should also utilize your wall space when decorating your home office. Put up bulletin boards where you can post reminders, motivational notes, pictures, and more. You may also want to put in shelving or cubes for books and decorative items if you do not have space for bookshelves. You can get cubbies for all of your office supplies and even label them so you know which items go where. I actually bought a tool organizer from Target that has many small drawers in it, and in each drawer are office supplies like paper clips, push pins, Post-It notes, staples, and more. I have a small white label on each drawer so I always know which item is in which drawer. A system like this may help you keep track of supplies and stay more organized. The less time you have to spend finding items, the more time you can spend being productive!

Formal or informal?
Is your home office going to be a place where clients visit? If so, you need to make sure it is presentable and stylish. Keep it clean, organized, and presentable. If it is messy and shoddy, you will not make a good impression. If you will have visitors, you should also be sure to have a nice chair for guests. It is best if you can set up the office so that the chair sits opposite from your desk, so you can discuss matters like you are in a true business environment.

If nobody is going to see the office but you and your family, you donít need to worry as much about the aesthetics. However, make an effort to keep it clutter-free so you feel in control and organized.

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