How to Set Up Your Home Office

With more and more of us working from home, during lockdown or before, these tips on how to set up your home office are more important than ever.

Having a home office, if you have the space, or simply an area dedicated to work time and the tasks at hand can help to make the whole work from home process so much easier.

Whether you are telecommuting two days a week, working as a freelancer or in another online role, or trying to start a home based business, having a specific area set up for work is crucial.

It can help to keep the distractions of home to a minimum and help you to make the break between home and work, which is essential for your rest and wellbeing.

Learning how to organize your home office effectively can also help to increase productivity and make working from home that much more feasible.

Here are the five aspects to concentrate on when you are setting up your home office:

Designate the Space

Whether you have the luxury of a separate room to use as a home office or just a desk set up in the corner of the sitting room or kitchen, marking out a specific space designating the space is important.

In an ideal word you will have a particular space that you set up and utilize for work. But this can just be a desk in shared space.

If possible, avoid working in the bedroom as this can stop you getting a good night's sleep later.

And try not to let your work area double as a play area for the children, a place for bills or household items to accumulate.

If more than one person in the household works from home, every attempt should be made to create separate work areas. Even if that means one of you is at the kitchen table and the other in the sitting room.

Keep Work to Work

Keep distractions to a minimum, and work materials should be kept at hand. Perhaps a small shelf or drawer unit or a box to keep things together but tidied away when you are not working.

Beware of clutter and other things piling onto your work space.

If paperwork becomes buried under children’s artwork or household receipts, the chances are that you will spend more time putting things in order again and again than you do getting work done.

If you can go straight to your work space and get on, you will be more productive and minimise the hours spent working.

Treat Your Workspace like an Office

This is the extension of the points made above. In an office, your desk may have a few personal items, but it is primarily used to get work done.

At home you should keep your work space just for work. Attempt to keep wall art, coverings and nearby shelves free from items that are not part of the workplace.

The items closest to hand should be those related to your job, not to life at home.

Storage and Filing

Having a paperwork and filing system that is well organised and right at hand can also help to increase productivity.

Having all necessary materials close by, in a filing area, desk space or on a bulletin board means you can grab whatever you need instantly without having to search for it.

Try to create separate folders and bins, whether they are used for physical papers, or create folders on your computer to contain current work, future work, and past or completed tasks.

Try this for your virtual paperwork too. Having project tags or folders in your email account will help enormously.

Shelves and bins hung from the wall can be used to help keep the desk free of clutter.

Try using wire bins or coloured baskets for storing papers and other accessories at hand.

A bulletin board is useful and can be used to pin important tasks that must be attended to immediately. 

Having them right in front of you means that they are directly at eye level and cannot be missed or mislaid.

Permanent filing cabinets can be used to store completed work for the length of time that these items will remain relevant.

Once a year, purge any files or materials that are no longer current to help make room for newer files.

But try to avoid filing current or ongoing work out of sight, as it may become harder to keep track of. For this an in-tray on your desk may be more suitable.

Filing cabinets should be easy to flip through and find papers in. If a cabinet is getting too tight to easily put new work into, it is time to either purge older work or expand to a second cabinet.

This collection of DIY home office storage ideas may help.

Shelving and Bookcases

Lining the walls of your office with shelving and bookcases can help to keep materials neat and well organised.

Shelving systems that can easily be re-arranged into different configurations work well for holding binders and books of different sizes that you need to re-organize often.

If the materials to be used are more permanent in nature, consider having wooden bookcases built in to fit the wall space you have.

When working from home, be sure that your office or work space, however bog or small, is comfortable and customized to fit the user.

One of the benefits of working from home is the ability to tailor a workspace to the needs and desires of the person utilizing it.

So take the time to customize the area and find different systems that work.

Treat your home office professionally, and not as just another area of the home, so that you can begin to take control of your work at home lifestyle.

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