Setting up a Home Office for the First Time? Here’s Your Guide
Whether you live in a beachside condo or in a small apartment in a big city, you need to find a space that you can designate for your home office.
Are you a seasoned lawyer who needs a quiet place to review briefs in the evening? Or perhaps you’re a freelancer who needs a motivating space at home to work. Either way, this article will help you turn that unused space into your personal office, free from distractions and furnished according to your needs and tastes. Have a look at the following steps and get started working at home comfortably and efficiently.
Choose your space
Whether you live in a beachside condo or in a small apartment in a big city, you need to find a space that you can designate for your home office. If your home is larger, you can consider converting a spare bedroom or storage room.
Think about if you’ll be meeting with clients at home; you may want to select a room closer to the entrance to protect your privacy. Or perhaps you plan on spending long hours in your office; a room with a good view might lift your spirits and keep you motivated. Do you have a large family? Make sure to choose a room with a door so you can enjoy some quiet time while working.
But if you are working with limited space, you may need to get creative. How about a large closet? Remove the clothes pole and clear it out by donating those shoes you haven’t worn in more than a year. Or maybe you only use your dining room when you have guests over once a year; that could be a great space to set up your printer, computer and work phone.
Think about what you will need
Make a list of everything you think you may need for your home office. Some things you may want to have might include:
• Temperature control
• Blinds for controlling natural light
• Cabinets, locking if client privacy is important
No matter what kind of business you have, you’re probably going to need a desk. If you are a creative type you can make your own desk by converting a small table and installing shelves on the wall behind the table for storing books and supplies. Or build your own desk by using filing cabinets as the base with a wood or laminate top.
If you are thinking of purchasing a desk, the best home office desks come in a wide range of prices so you can find one that fits your budget.
If you’re eager to get started, you may think that you can make any old stool or folding chair serve as your office chair. This is only the case if you plan on spending fewer than 20 minutes at a time seated at your desk. It’s very important to choose the right chair for you and adjust it to your needs. No matter how old you are, sitting in a chair that doesn’t offer proper support, especially in the lumbar area, will cause you discomfort and pain, and make you less able to focus while you’re working. Some things to look for in an office chair include:
• An adjustable backrest
• Appropriate height (your feet should rest flat on the floor)
• Arm rests that are close to the body and allow your shoulders to relax
• Adjustable arm height that matches the height of the desk
• Adjustable lumbar support
• Wheel base (make sure your wheels are compatible with your flooring, ie carpet vs wood
• Breathable fabric
Many people are unaware of the damage that prolonged screen time causes to their eyes. The good news is, there are things you can do to help. In an ideal situation, your home office will be in a room with plenty of windows for natural light. However, realistically, most people don’t find themselves in an ideal situation when setting up a home office. If this is your case, you can enhance the area with direct lighting. First start with overhead lights that fill the general space, then add a desk lamp to illuminate your work surface, and a floor lamp to enhance the light around your work surface.
You should also make sure that the lighting is not right in front of your computer monitor, so it doesn’t reflect off of the screen. If you plan on working right before bed, you may want to consider buying a pair of glasses made specifically to reduce the glare from the screen.
Invest in critical equipment
If you’ve spent any time looking at pictures of home offices on the internet, you may be eager to go and splurge on unnecessary décor. Don’t worry, that can come later, but first it’s important to make sure that you’ve got the necessary items accounted for. Some of these may include:
• A fast internet connection
• Specialised software
• A separate work phone
• A tax consultant (because paying self-employment taxes can be complicated)
Keep it professional
There are three main reasons that you’ll want to keep your home office space professional:
• Clients: If you have clients in your home office, you won’t want to have dirty clothes lying around or anything that might reflect your political or religious views.
• Motivation: You may be tempted to have tons of personal effects in your workspace, and while a family photograph or two, or your favourite piece of artwork are ok, too many decorative items may become a distraction.
• IRS: It can be hard to get started as a small business owner so tax deductions are very important. You need to be able to take advantage of tax deductions related to home office expenses, but if you can’t prove that your office is a dedicated work area, you may not meet the conditions set forth by the IRS.
Keep a regular schedule
One of the awesome benefits of working for yourself is that your schedule can be a bit more relaxed. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be working less. It may be tempting to spend an extra hour after lunch catching up with the news, or getting a later start in the morning but you may find that if you don’t keep strict office hours you will become less productive.
Just as it’s important to make sure you are working during the appropriate hours, it’s also just as important to make sure you are taking breaks. It is recommended to take a break, stretch, drink some water or take a lap around the block once an hour. Studies have shown that this keeps levels of metabolism up and makes it easier to continue concentrating throughout the day.
In order to remember to take scheduled breaks, consider hanging a clock on your wall or placing one on your desk. That way you can easily glance at the time and remember if you’ve got a break coming up or not.
Decorate with colour
Although it’s important to keep distractions to a minimum, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to create a visually appealing space. Decorating with colour will make the space more inviting and patterns will help stimulate your brain to keep you feeling awake and focused. Try choosing a colour that calms you but doesn’t put you to sleep. A pale yellow perhaps, or a delicate spring green.
Planning your home office space is essential to being able to work comfortably and efficiently at home. Make sure you have everything you need, and add a few decorations to make it an enjoyable place to work and be. You’ll enjoy your time working more, and approach each project with more enthusiasm, and that will be sure to reflect in your work.