A Home Office Isn’t a Luxury
Before the pandemic, a lot of us only dreamed about working from home. No commute, lunch in front of the tv, and working in our pajamas seemed like a fantasy.
Then it happened. We were stranded at home. Things got…real. Things got messy. We made it work.
Welp, a lot of our temporary solutions turned out to be permanent. And now these “solutions” aren’t cutting it long-term. Folks, we’re going to need better home office setup ideas than this. No more working off the kitchen counter.
If you’re running a business from home - or just working for an employer there - setting up your home office intentionally isn’t a luxury. It’s essential to your success.
When and Where to Start
Now’s the time to address your home office setup, actually. The Fresh Start Effect tells us that we’re better at creating new patterns around some invented landmark on the calendar (New Year's, our birthday, even the start of a week).
So, if you want to distance yourself from your old setup, this is a great moment. If it’s not New Year’s when you’re reading this, just pick a launch day on the calendar that makes sense to you.
But where do you get ideas for your home office setup?
Not to poo-poo inspiration - go ahead and look at Pinterest all you like But those pictures of idealized home offices can lead you down the path of destructive design. You could end up with a pretty office that’s built according to someone else’s needs.
You need to start with YOU. Your needs, your aims, your work.
In this blog, I want to go over what’s essential - and what’s not. We’ll discuss the space, habits, and even the point of view that makes a home office setup that’s all yours.
First, Dedicate Your Space
You want to create an office environment where you can work happily, without a lot of static or hand-wringing. So first and foremost, find a dedicated space.
Don’t work in a room that children also nap in. Don’t work where your partner’s gaming system is hooked up. No sitting in the dining room.
Set up your office in a place that’s for one thing only - business.
It seems harmless in the short term to use a multipurpose space - but don’t do it. It’s too easy to blur the lines here. Don’t give yourself any petty excuses to slack off, get frustrated, or dilute your attention.
Your home office should have -
A door you can close
Ample power outlets
Strong internet connection
A low level of distraction (no big TVs on the wall or high-traffic areas)
I know all this can sound nitpicky, but it’s not. Every piece of friction between you and your work should be hunted down and eliminated.
Keep your home office space sacred.
It’s All About You
Sketching out home office setup ideas isn’t like picking out a polish and the nail salon. “Oh, that’s pretty,” doesn’t cut it as a planning process.
If you go by what a cool office is “supposed to look like,” you’ll likely miss the mark of what you actually need. You need to keep your own particular workday in mind.
Don’t take anything for granted when you’re setting up an office. Start with a clean slate. Think about what a day of work actually entails and design your office with that as your north star.
“When you're setting up your home office for the first time,” says Entrepreneur.com, “ask yourself what you really need to do your job effectively. This can help you prioritize…”
What do you need to have at arm's length when your work?
What do you use to get work done?
What do you always kick yourself for not having in your office?
Make a list of “gotta haves” for a successful day - supplies, information, etc. What’s a true priority? What’s an outmoded extra from the old office?
Don’t supply some imaginary person’s office. Keeping your office centered around your actual work will reduce clutter and make you feel more at home.
Storage: A Place for Everything
As many of you know, I have a fabulous, frustrating ADHD brain. Which means I have a weird relationship with order and organization. I thrive with both. I suck at setting them up.
When bouncing home office ideas, one of the considerations has gotta be keeping things tidy. And one of the keys to that is storage. Intelligent storage.
You need to make sure that every single thing has a place it “goes.” Not just a place you can hide it. No junk drawers. I’m talking about a specific place especially set aside for that thing.
Where do your scissors go?
Where does your phone charger go?
Where do your pens go?
You have to be super intentional about it. Label the space if it helps. But seriously, noooooo winging it. If a thing doesn’t have a designated place, it can’t come into your home office.
You can’t have order without this kind of setup. It just can’t happen.
Set Your Rituals
Wait - did you say rituals?
Don’t worry. I don’t mean burying chicken bones by the full moon. It just means your home office setup isn’t just about the physical layout. You need to set up some habits that help the office stay…officey.
Institute some rituals so order becomes second nature.
Open all your mail at once, shredding what needs to be shredded and throwing away recycling - immediately.
Have a beginning-of-the-day “open for business” process that includes setting your coffee up, pulling the needed stuff, and closing the door.
More importantly, have a closing ritual. This can involve a 10-minute pickup process. So the next day you walk into a ready office space.
All the great home office setup ideas in the world can’t combat chaos.
Create a simple, dedicated vibe by incorporating a daily maintenance practice. It doesn’t have to be crazy. Keep it easy. Do it the same way every day.
Set Your Home Office Up for (Some) Comfort
Your office checklist should always include comfort. But wait, wait, waaaait!
Let’s think about what “comfort” means here. It means supporting a healthy, painless, focused day of business. Not curling up like a kitten and snoozing.
Create a space with good, ergonomic furniture. The kind that gets you to the end of the day with the least amount of wear on your body and mind.
It seems bonkers that there are risks to sitting, but…yeah, there are a ton!
According to Healthline.com, sitting at your desk a lot can cause weight gain, muscle and joint strain, diabetes, cancer, blood circulation issues, heart disease, anxiety, and depression.
(Hells bells, what else is there?)
Consider including a nice stand-up desk in your home office setup. Or at least a good counter to work on from time to time - so you don’t spend the whole day ruining your body and getting sad.
There should also be lots of light in your office - preferably natural light. This combats eye strain and - again - depression.
Oh! One more thing. Have a place you can stretch out - a patch of your office where you can walk around, peer out a window, and unroll a yoga mat.
The ability to refresh and protect your body should be a priority in your office plan - and it’s one of the perks of being in charge of your own space.
Don’t Forget Your Personality
Lastly, I want to encourage you to make an office that fills you with excitement when you enter it. Don’t make it into a living room, but your home office setup should reflect your personality and values.
Again, keep it simple. Don’t make clutter. But make it yours. Make it a place that draws you in.
It’s a sweet spot we're aiming for. A place where your brain knows it’s time for business, but it’s genuinely happy to walk into the space.
“[M]aking a room or space feel welcoming means we are automatically going to want to spend time there,” says Jim Kwik, Brain Coach and Best Selling Author, “If we are miserable in our workspace, we are likely creating more cortisol than is healthy…Being surrounded with items that make us happy means we relax, lower our stress levels, and ultimately end up being far more productive.”
This doesn’t mean a minibar and foosball, but definitely put your kid’s picture up and set out a dog bed next to your desk. In short - put some “home” into your home office setup.
As Per Usual…
Hey, you know what? I’m looking around my home office and I realize how much of this advice I could use myself. I don’t stand up enough. My closing rituals could use a tweak.
My point is you’re not going to get this 100%. That’s almost always my point.
Just honor your workspace - do what works - what really works.
And remember what the purpose of a home office setup is. It’s to create a place for your impact. It’s so that you can live a life you value and love.
So create YOUR space. Make it work for you.
Do you have an office space setup tip you want to share?
I wanna hear it!
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