When I decided to start working from home permanently, I thought that creating an office was not a priority. After all, I previously did some after-hours work from my dining room table. Bad move! Occasional work is not the same as working from home daily, and I quickly had to set about planning a home office that I could work in.
Here’s what I learned:
If you want to be productive and professional when working from home, you must create a home office that matches your aspirations.
I’ve identified the most important criteria for creating a home office that you’ll actually want to use. Follow these tips to save yourself time, and remove the stress of having a poorly planned home office before you get tripped up.
10 tips to create a home office:
1. Plan your office with the space available.
Before you set your office up, take stock of what you need in your office, and compare the must-haves to the space you have available. Also, consider electrical outlets, cables, and the size of your furniture. Positioning is vital too. You don’t want to be squeezing yourself into corners, unable to reach anything, or tripping over things every day.
2. Choose a desk and chair that are the right size for your body and are comfortable.
You are going to spend hours in your office so you can’t afford a desk or chair that causes you discomfort. Your computer screen must be at eye level so you aren’t straining your neck to look at the screen. Your forearms should remain parallel to the floor when you use the keyboard to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. Your feet must be able to rest comfortably on the floor, or on a footrest without touching the underside of your desk or resting too heavily on the edge of the chair. According to studies in ergonomics, the major contributors to proper posture relate to lessening pressure on joints and the spine.
3. Make sure that the area has enough light.
Some natural light is preferable, so place your desk close to a window if possible. Make sure the positioning allows for even light exposure without glare. That also allows you to take regular eye breaks.
4. Home offices must be creative with storage.
Many home offices don’t have much space for filing cabinets. The best option is to go paperless. If you are concerned about saving to your hard drive only, subscribe to a cloud storage service.
5. Get into a healthy eating routine.
Now is the time to get rid of all those unhealthy eating habits. No more unhealthy subs gobbled down at your desk! Since I have been taking a proper lunch break and eating a protein-packed lunch every day, I feel much healthier and I have far more energy.
6. A quality headset works wonders.
No one can escape domestic noise when you work from home. You cannot stop neighbors or their children and pets from living an active life. Be prepared beforehand. Invest in a pair of noise-blocking headphones with adjustable volume on the microphone. You can get one that is also good for running, killing two birds with one stone.
7. Work with purpose, and let everyone know.
It’s vital that you advise family and friends that working from home means work. Don’t allow people to pop in and out of your office to chat or visit, and don’t give in to people who ask. Make it clear that you don’t have the time. Be tough and stay tough.
8. Keep office supplies and other essentials handy.
Place your printer close enough so that you can reach it easily; that applies to office supplies as well. Make sure that you keep an eye on supply levels so you don’t find yourself low in the middle of a deadline. Store manuals or handbooks close by too if you refer to them regularly.
9. Take steps to avoid eye strain.
Apart from stretch breaks, you need regular eye breaks and having something to focus on makes it easier. If your office has a window with a garden, put a bird feeder outside. The activity and greenery will offer brief eye breaks. Indoor plants are also great because they bring greenery into the room, and give you something to focus on. Get into the habit of following the 20-20-20 rule to avoid eye strain. Look away from your screen every 20 minutes, and focus on something 20 yards away for 20 seconds. Looking at something pleasing makes it easier; your eyes will be grateful.
10. Manage your time.
Set working hours for yourself, and stick to them. Self-regulation is essential to success when you work from home.
Creating a home office is as much about attitude as it is about content
Being productive and successful when you work from home takes a change in mindset. You can no longer rely on colleagues and management to motivate you. You have to motivate yourself. Creating a home office that is practical and comfortable together with self-regulation and intention will transform you into a successful professional in no time.