Whether you work from home, or just need a convenient place to pay the bills and take care of regular household business, you need something that functions as a home office. Your office may be a dedicated room, or it could be carved out of an unused closet space and an awkward niche. Either way, spending a little time making it pleasant, attractive and functional is well worth the investment.
- Take a look around your office space and be really critical. Is it time to clean? Are the windows and window treatments in good shape? Is it time to paint? A dreary atmosphere will make time you spend in the office less pleasant and rewarding.
- If your office is shared space, do you have a clear delineation between office space and the rest of room? If your office is also the guest bedroom, which gets the most use? If it’s the office, consider switching to a murphy bed, or a trundle or some other space saver to give you more room for day-to-day living when you don’t have a guest.
- Check your accessories. It’s important to have personal mementos and things that inspire you. It’s equally important to ensure they don’t overwhelm your space and make it impossible to work. Balance your office space with a small plant and a few personal photos, or a small collection of treasures, but leave the bulk of your space for practical work.
- Corral those office supplies. It really isn’t necessary (or very green) to buy office supplies in bulk. Donate excess supplies to your child’s school, or a local non-profit then get a handle on the stuff you really need with handy shelves. Store your supplies there instead of on your desk to reduce clutter.
- Go ahead and be like Goldilocks when it comes to your desk. Your surface should be just right for the work you need to do and the space available to you. A too small desk makes work impossible and a too big desk is wasted space and an invite for clutter.
- File that stuff. Spend a few moments to really assess your filing needs. If you’re just paying a few bills, an accordion file might be sufficient for day-to-day use, and you can store your regular files elsewhere. But if you need to keep lots of paperwork close to hand, invest in a good file drawer.
- While you’re checking out your filing needs, take the time to clean out your old files. Find out what you need to hold onto and save that. Shred the rest (you can repurpose the shred as packing material in gifts).
- Is your printer handy? It’s OK to hide your printer in the closet if you don’t need to print much, but if you’re getting up multiple times each day to retrieve papers, find someplace closer to your desk, and keep refill paper close to hand as well. All those up and down trips waste precious time and set you up for frustration.
- How’s your lighting? You don’t need to install industrial fluorescents, but you do need adequate lighting for your tasks. Replace any old incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient CFLs or LEDs in a daylight spectrum to save energy and reduce eyestrain.
- Consider the home aspect of your home office. Do you need to make space for the baby monitor? Do Fido and Fluffy spend time with you? Make sure they have a handy dog bed and some toys to keep them occupied.
If you feel good, positive, happy and “together” when you’re in your office space, you’ll be more productive and focused. If your space makes you want to run away in frustration, you won’t want to spend time there, and you won’t be as productive. Find the elements that don’t work, or that frustrate you, and take steps to fix them.