Setting Up Your Work-at-Home Space

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Welcome to the Work from Home Productively and Keep Your Sanity series. For more information on what the series is about, please check out these posts: here and here.

While logically it might make sense to start this series with an article laying out what to consider before making the decision to work from home, I am saving that for later in the series. To start it off, I want to consider the space that you may already be working in.

Whether you live in a huge home with lots of extra rooms to choose from or a flat with limited space, it is still of utmost importance that you have the proper place set up for working at home.

If you simply plop down on the couch with your laptop when it is time to work, you aren’t allowing yourself the delineation between work and home. Even if it is just setting up your laptop at the table, you are a step closer to emulating a proper work space.

No two home offices are going to be set up the same. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t basic steps you should follow or consider when doing so. Here are some suggestions to get you started and thinking about your office space.

Make a list of everything that you need for your office space

Will you need a fax? A printer? A drafting board? These are things to consider as you look for your space within the home. Due to space limitations, you may have to settle for having some of these items in different places within the home. Have everything you need before you start prettying up your space. Get a dedicated computer, reliable internet and phone service (consider the possibility of a separate phone line if you will be making a lot of calls; Skype is a great option for being able to make phone calls without an extra line or extra charges.)

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Find a quiet spot to set up your space

It may be a corner of a room. It may be an entire room. It may just be a closet. Whatever space it is, make sure that it is a spot that will allow for quiet at some point throughout the day. Try not to set it up right in the middle of the kitchen, where every dirty dish will scream your name and taunt your throughout the day. If this is your only option, then make it a priority to keep the kitchen as tidy and clean as possible, to alleviate that distraction.

Keep your office space dedicated to office items

Don’t place the laundry basket on your desk. Don’t even think about putting leisure reading material there either. Again, the potential for distraction is severely reduced if you de-clutter your working area. Toss out anything that you do not need in order to work. Throw it away or find another home for it. (for great de-cluttering tips, stop by Simple Mom)

Make sure that the area is well lit and well ventilated

Nothing will make you want to get up again and again faster than poor lighting around your work space. Not only is it hard to see what you are doing, but it fatigues the eyes. Good lighting and fresh air are a must.

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No unoccupied room? No problem

Your home office doesn’t need to be in a room all to itself. Yes – this would be wonderful and ideal. But not all of us have that option available. Look around your home or apartment at the space you do have and consider the possibilities, even if it currently houses something else. Maybe it’s a closet. A space under the stairs. A corner of your living room. If you don’t have room at the moment, you will have to make room. You can’t run a business sitting on your couch. So clear out a space if need be. Donate items to charity or a needy family. Do something with it so that you can have your office space.

“Carving out a space that is designated as the business space is imperative.  This helps with work flow and focusTake into consideration your specific learning style. For example if you are easily distracted by noise or people then having your office in the middle of the den will not be very functional. Your space, just like your business may grow. Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon of God’s Word Sculpture Art,

Get organized early on

I will be dedicating an entire article to this topic, but start planning out your office organization and continually evaluate how well you are doing with it. Don’t let your work area messes get out of control. You don’t want to get caught wasting time searching for a pen every time you need to take notes during a phone conversation. Organize your space just like you would if you were at an out of the home office. Keep supplies handy and stocked. You will probably needs bookshelves, storage bins, filing cabinets and such as you go along. There are creative ways to make use of your space for organization that I will discuss in the upcoming article.

Have a comfortable seat to sit on and a desk that is the proper size

This may seem like obvious statement of the day, but you’d be amazed how quickly this can get backburned when all of the other issues related to getting started are considered. An improper seat will kill your bottom. And a desk that is the wrong size will kill your back and neck. Neither one of these issues will increase your productivity.

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There are many options for setting up your office and how to do it, but it is so important to get yourself off on the right foot. Think through these basics and spend some time preparing for your space. It will make a huge difference if you do.

(photo source top image: .Fabio)
(photo source middle image: super-structure)
(photo source bottom image: dierken)

Comments

  1. Excellent tips. Unfortunately I am one of the ones who has no designated room for office space. It makes everything much, much more of a challenge.

  2. Hi Shawna: I didn’t mention having a dedicated space, for that very reason.

    However, I think that even if you don’t have a space that you can keep your office items set up at all times, it is best to have a space in your home that you always work at – whether it be the kitchen table or a card table in the corner. (I have a small desk in the eating area.)

    I think having one spot you always use is very helpful even if you have to break it down after each use and set it back up again each time.

    I will be addressing creative ways to disguise your work space in a future post.

  3. Karla, this is SO timely for me. WIth the launch of Simple Kids and the writing I've been working on, I'm finding I desperately need some office space! I keep thinking we just don't have the room, but you are so right. I need to make some room. I can surely come up with a corner and a card table! Fantastic post. Thank you!

    • Megan – I bet you will be surprised at the space that you can find! And it really does make a difference. Keep me posted on how it goes!

  4. Excellent tips! I just moved into a bigger place and FINALLY am able to set up an office in a separate room. When we were in our smaller home, I turned one of our larger hallways into an office space. A build in shelf in the wall and storage space above became my "space". It really did work. Although, I'm happily settling into my new full room space now. Actually, my husband is putting my new desk together as I type!

    • that is awesome, Kristen! I love hearing the ways that ppl have made a space work.
      Would you happen to have photos of the space? I'd love to show how you had it set up.

      Karla

  5. plastic and storage bins are both great, if i want a more durable storage bins then i would opt for steel storage bins ;**

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