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Creating Your Ultimate Home Office: 5 Things You Need To Know

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Like a great pair of jeans, or a fantastic chair, your home office has to “feel” right to you, not just function well.  Setting up your Ultimate Home Office is simple if you know what to do, but how do you get started?

There are several contributing factors to a great home office, but no matter what you choose for your home, the basic framework is the same.  A little planning in the beginning will increase the changes you will not only love your home office, but that you will actually use it.  Here’s 5 things you need to know about setting up Your Ultimate Home Office.

1. Location, Location, Location.

Home offices come in all shapes and sizes.  Where you locate your office in your home is entirely up to you.  Carving out an exclusive room for your home office is best, but if space is at a premium, you’ll have to use your imagination. Here’s a few ideas if you’re not sure where you should set up shop:

1st Choice: A separate room with a closing door, away from the high traffic area of the home. (“Shedworking” is also increasingly popular.)

2nd Choice: A corner or wall in a low traffic area of the home.  Use the entire wall for shelving, storage and a desk built right in.

3rd Choice:  A portable or standalone piece of furniture, such as an large armoire.

2.  Sort it out: what do you already have?

A home office needs a lot of things, but there are many things it doesn’t need.  Once you’ve decided where your home office will go, it’s time to think about what you want and need to put in it.  Get out some boxes and bags, and start sorting through what you already have, before you even think about setting foot in a store.

A couple questions to ask yourself when deciding what will go (or stay) in your office:   1. Do I love it?  2. Do I use it?  3. Do I need it?

I ask my clients to use these questions when they get stuck sorting out their files, drawer and other supplies in their office.  If the answer is “no” to any of the above questions, it might be time to reconsider and donate.

3.  Layout

No matter what location you choose, there are some layout considerations you’ll want to think about.  Let’s take the example of a one room office.

Door: Be sure your back isn’t facing the door. Turn your desk so you can clearly see the door.

Desk: Don’t be afraid to “float” your desk in the middle of the room. Many people put furniture “under arrest”, i.e. pushed up against the wall.  This really limits what you can do with a room, so have a little fun and experiment! (Also, be sure not to put it over or directly in front of a heating vent.)

Windows: Nothing’s worse than glare, so be sure your laptop or computer monitor isn’t facing the window.  Direct sunlight on your monitor is no fun!  Also, be sure you have some privacy with blinds or drapes (top-down window treatments are best, if available in a style you prefer).

Storage: You’ll need a small amount of storage for supplies, and more depending on what you’re going to be doing in your home office.  If you don’t currently have storage, make sure you purchase furniture or shelving with a little room to grow.

Organize: When laying out your office, think about how you can find what you need in 5 minutes or less.  There are an infinite amount of products available, but before you buy, make sure you know how you will use them.  If you get stuck, hire a professional organizer to help you.

4.  The Basics: Use what you already have, and buy what you don’t

If you’ve already sorted (above), making a list should be pretty simple.  Buy the best you can afford, and think outside the box with your creativity!

Here’s the basics, and few tips before you buy:

Desk: My desk is large.  Why?  It was originally a kitchen table.  I like lots of room to spread out!

Chair: Get one that’s comfortable and the right height for your desk.  Office chairs are not always necessary (or good looking), but the most important is to buy one that is comfortable to you.

Bookshelf: Best to get one that compliments your desk and any other furniture in the room.  Don’t be afraid to paint or stain it if necessary.

Phone: If your home office will be one you’ll be working out of: caller ID, a hold button and voicemail are essential.  There are many great options on the market.

Computer: If you have (or purchase) a laptop, be sure to get a docking station.  This allows you to use a larger monitor, as well as other peripherals.  Buy the best computer you can afford.  Also, a wireless modem is a great addition to your computer.  It will allow you to work outside when the weather allows.  Definitely a perk of working at home.

Printer: A multi-tasker is the ultimate home office printer.  Get one that prints, scans, faxes and copies.  If desired, also get one that has wireless capabilities.  One device that does it all?  Fab.

File Storage: Notice I said “storage” and not “cabinet”.  There are so many file storage options on the market, it’s mind boggling.  If you want to stick with the traditional file cabinet, you certainly can.  You can also opt for a set of file boxes or a storage ottoman.  Look around and see what’s out there.  You might be surprised!

Lighting: Most rooms will have a ceiling light, or at least one lamp.  In an office, you’re also going to need task lighting.  An adjustable lamp or two attractive side lamps are perfect.  Make sure you have enough lighting to reduce eye-strain and increase your productivity.

Office supplies: At a minimum, you’ll need a stapler, tape, scissors, paper, pens, paper clips and ink for your printer

5.  Minimize or Eliminate Distractions

Working at home isn’t for everyone.  For many, distractions are the biggest challenge.  These can include chores calling your name, the mailman coming by, children under foot, random noises, pets running around or the urge to be doing something else.  Here’s some ways you can fend off those distractions so you can get things done.

Set boundaries and rules.

If you work from home, it’s crucial that your family, roommates or even neighbors, know when your work hours are.  Posting hours, a closed door or other physical indicators are also helpful.  This is also very important if you have children in the home while you’re working.  Open the lines of communication, and make sure everyone is on the same page.  You’ll save yourself, and others, time and frustration.

Work with your distractions.

Sometimes a distraction can be an excellent opportunity to take a break, especially if you tend to overwork yourself.  Sunny outside?  Set a goal, like cleaning out your inbox, and then go out and take a walk as a reward.  You’ll come back refreshed and ready to move forward again.

Don’t procrastinate.

If there are little things driving you crazy, take a little time and take care of them.  This can be things like broken furniture or wobbly chair, temperature is too cold in your office or little projects you’ve been putting off.  Every so often, make a list of the little things creeping up on you and take care of them.  You’ll be much less distracted and more productive.

Creating Your Ultimate Home Office can be a fun adventure.  Think about how you work, what you like to look at and what you ultimately want your space to be.  Let your imagination run wild!  With a little work and planning, you’ll be in an office that suits you in no time.

About the author

Brandie Kajino, The Home Office Organizer, is a dynamic speaker, author and “organizing muse”.  Empowering clients with information, technology, productivity tools and space planning are her specialty.  For more information on her services, product downloads, a link to her radio show, her blog and free organizing tips, visit her website: or call 360-907-6485.

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