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6 Tips for Setting Up a Home Office

Are you a work-at-home parent like myself? When I first started working from home, I would usually work on our dining table or on our bed. While I was able to function in these conditions, I soon realized that creating a space that is conducive for working can further improve my productivity.

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Without a properly planned space at home to work from, you will find yourself distracted, uninspired, and eventually unproductive. In order to become a thoroughly productive freelancer, setting up a home office that’s conducive for work is a must. Global real estate website Lamudi Philippines shares with us a few tips to create an inspiring and conducive home office:

1. Pick a room

First step is to pick the best space in your home to function as an office. If you think you’ll be freelancing for the long term, then it’s best to use a separate room. However, if your home has limited space, then at least ensure that the spot you’ll pick is adequately spaced and prone to as little interruption as possible. Remember, work is still the reason for your setting this office up, and you cannot work well if you are uncomfortable and constantly being distracted.

2. Get a proper desk

Those who have experience with working from home will attest that the key to being productive is to have a space that is functional first, comfortable second. So it’s important to cover the basics and ensure your space is maximized (you’re setting up an office, not a bedroom, after all). Start with getting a proper desk that provides plenty of surface area. Make sure the height of your desk allows the top of the screen of your desktop or laptop computer to be at eye level or slightly lower. This helps prevent you from straining your neck as you work.

Then there’s the chair. You’ll be spending a good amount of your time sitting on it, so it’s important to have one, preferably ergonomically designed (a regular dining chair simply won’t cut it). Remember: it sounds simple, but your chair must be one your body likes sitting in. If not, you’ll barely spend time working at your actual desk.

3. Decide on the orientation of your desk

Some like working facing the wall to avoid distraction. Others like facing the window for inspiration. It’s up to you where to face your work desk. Others like having their desks closer to windows because the view invites them to turn away from their computer monitors every once in a while. They also get the benefit of a lowered energy bill as the room’s lights don’t need to be turned on all the time. However, it’s important to make sure the desk is at an angle where not much sunlight is glaring off the screen.

4. Equipment, supplies, and storage

Once you’ve had your desk, chair, and their placement sorted out, it’s time to sort out the equipment and materials you’ll need. Aside from a computer and Internet connection, some people, especially those whose jobs are clerical in nature (e.g., virtual assistant), may need a printer, fax machine, and even a landline phone. Designers and architects, on the other hand, need to go beyond a basic desk and may need a drawing board or drafting table. Editors meanwhile may need extra desk space to manually check proofs.

To maintain a clutter-free desk, it is important to have the right kind and amount of storage for your supplies and equipment. For example, the printer or fax machine preferably should have a separate table or stowed somewhere to avoid them being an eyesore, and the same goes for office supplies.

5. Don’t leave cords unaddressed

Admit it: if you don’t tackle the cords when you first set up your home office, you’ll never will. Cords are an eyesore. And while you’re advised not to let toddlers run around your home office, this can’t be prevented all the time, and cords that snake around are dangerous for them. If the spot you picked to place your desk in doesn’t have an electric outlet, get a professional to mount an extension on the wall. The same goes with the cable spaghetti behind your desk—organize them using cord bundlers you can get from house supplies stores.

6. Decorate if you must

While employees working from normal offices are discouraged—prohibited even—to decorate their workplaces, being in your own home office you’re within your right to personalize yours as you please. However, do remember that it is still a work space, and not a lounge to relax in. Sometimes it’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to imitate that home office that you read about online or saw in a magazine, but it may not be the best use of the space you have.

For instance, having an espresso machine might be fun, but you might have better use for the space it’ll occupy. The same goes with that zen fountain you’ve been wanting to have. Better keep these in the “home” area of your house.

Kimberley Reyes

Kimberley Reyes is an Online Business Manager for entrepreneurs who are ready to get off the hamster wheel and step into their CEO shoes. On top of helping her clients get organized and scale their businesses, she is also happily busy raising her five kids with her firefighter husband.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Izabelle

    Hi. I’m glad I found your blog. I’m a working Mom. I have a day job from 8am-5pm at the same time, I work online as part-time accountant/bookkeeper. My clients are from USA, Australia, Hongkong & Singapore. I have a home office set-up.. but actually my concern is if you could give an advise if I should just concentrate on working from home and quit my job? Well.. still undecided.

    1. Kimberley Reyes

      Hi Izabelle, it really depends on YOU. Do you think you are financially ready to quit your day job? Are you ready to really dive into freelancing? This is serious business and you have to put your whole heart into it when you make that decision. I hope everything goes well with you!

      1. Izabelle

        Hi. Thanks for the prompt response. Financially, online job is good. Just no retirement, health insurance, other benefits.. those things I need to give up. Right now from part-time bookkeeping/accounting (i set up online accounting system for a client & manage their books monthly) I can earn from 25k to 30K. That’s a lot for a part-time job. So I know I can earn more if I work full-time.
        Another concern I have (not financial) is really on my well-being. Well since I’ll be home most of the time, I’m worried how it will affect my personality, my social life.. have you been worried about those things before when you decide to work at home full time? Those things I’m uncertain how it will affect me. Financially, I can plan.

        Thanks for the advice.

        1. Kimberley Reyes

          Then you have to take note of those things. You can still have a retirement fund, health insurance and other benefits when you’re a home-based worker, but you have to set your finances in order. My suggestion is that you get all these set before you dive into full-time freelancing. In my case, I invested my earnings into different investments so I can be confident that I have money if I need it.

          As for your social life. I don’t think it will suffer as long as you know how to manage your time wisely. Some home-based workers bury themselves in work; hence resulting to burn out. I try to incorporate fun into my schedule. I only work 4 hours a day, the rest of the day I spend with my kids, or my husband, or hang out with friends. I also make sure I “pay” myself for the hard work by treating myself to vacations. We try to go on vacation each week – it doesn’t have to always be grand. All it has to do is help our family unwind.

          I survived freelancing for eight years, with two kids and no househelp. So far, I’m good!

  2. Janice Tyler

    Thank you for sharing great ideas and tips for setting an office at home. I noticed that I lack imagination for doing simple things as setting up an office for my needs. Maybe that’s because I used to get help from others and usually they did everything for me. But everytime I read blogs with some tips, I understand that I can do all by myself and I just need a little bit of imagination and planning. Well, I admire you because of your planning and creativeness. I think staying-in-home-mothers need some space for themselves and office at home is a really great idea. I think that this blog post inspired mothers to create their own space. I think it’s a great place not only to work, but also to relax and read a book.

    1. Kimberley Reyes

      Thank you, Janice! I used to have everything done for me as well…until I tried to DIY. It’s fun!

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