20 Tips and Products For Setting Up A Home Office

Shannon Quinn - May 8, 2020
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Working from home can be surprisingly difficult, especially if you’re not used to the process. Since we have no idea how long this situation will last, it might be a good idea to set up an office space at home. Not sure where to start? Lucky for you, I’ve been working from home for years, so I figured out some of the kinks so you don’t have to. Here are some of the most important things to consider when you’re setting up a work space in your house.

If you ignore the rules of ergonomics, you’ll experience a lot of back pain. Credit: Shutterstock

20. Keep Ergonomics in Mind

Many office spaces have their desks designed with ergonomics in mind, but the average person would never stop to think about it. In case you’re unaware, “ergonomics” is, it’s the study of efficiency in your work environment. One of the most important aspects of ergonomics is knowing how to correctly adjust your posture and eye level. For example, imagine that you are sitting at your kitchen table in a hard chair with your shoulders slightly bent as you type on a tiny laptop. After about 30 minutes, you’re going to feel uncomfortable. Poor posture, typing habits, and back support can lead to a lot of pain. Some people even develop carpal tunnel syndrome in their wrists.

Remember to look into the rules of ergonomics so you’re comfortable working at home. Credit: Shutterstock

The best way to fix the ergonomics of your desk is by doing some research. Purchase an No products found. No products found. to support your back, or use pillows to make your current seat more comfortable. You might also want to consider buying a desk with height adjustment $70.07 . Once you have an adjustable desk, you could also use it for standing.

Getting work done on your bed is actually a bad idea. Credit: Shutterstock

19. Don’t Work in Your Bedroom

Normally, when you come home from work, you probably feel your body begin to relax. Your brain knows that this is your “safe space” away from the stress of your job. And when you walk into your bedroom at night, your mind understands that this is your place of rest. However, once you start to work from home, there is no divide between the two. By working in your bedroom, you’re confusing your mind and body as to what task is supposed to get done. Working on your laptop in bed in your pajamas is the absolute worst thing you could do to yourself. First of all, your mind will take longer to wake up and be productive. Then, when it’s time to go to sleep, you might be thinking about work, and it will affect your sleep. This becomes a vicious cycle.

Credit: Shutterstock

It’s far better to work on your kitchen table, living room couch, or a designated office space. Depending on your living situation, a desk in your bedroom might be your only option. If this is the case, try to create a corner of the bedroom that is dedicated to work. This way, when you wake up in the morning, you can shower, get dressed, and go to the “work corner” of your bedroom. If you can block your view of the desk by putting up a room divider or create a wall with a bookshelf, that’s even better.

It’s important to find a quiet place to work in your house. Credit: Shutterstock

18. Find a Quiet Space

Suggesting to work in a quiet space might seem obvious. However, a lot of people will feel tempted to work in their kitchen or living room so that they aren’t alone. Most people are used to spending their days with co-workers, so it’s only natural to want to reach out to other human beings. And if you have kids who need to be homeschooled, working in a common area might be your only option. Keep in mind that the more you can concentrate, the faster things will get done. Have a conversation with your family about the importance of giving you private work time. If you have young kids who find it difficult to go five minutes without calling for you, set a timer for them on a phone or iPad. It also helps to put a “do not disturb” sign on the door letting everyone know that you’re working.

When you’re trying to concentrate, give yourself a moment of zen. Credit: Shutterstock

If you’re in a living situation where it’s almost impossible to find a quiet space, it may be time to invest in some Apple Air Pods $99.00 , or whatever headphones you already own. Playing instrumental music or nature sounds will give you white noise without any lyrics to distract you. Make yourself a good cup of coffee, or whatever else helps you concentrate on the task at hand. Once you get yourself “in the zone”, you should be able to get through your work responsibilities quickly, so that you can return to being with other members of your household.

Writing in a planner can help keep you on track. Credit: Shutterstock

17. Use a Planner or Calendar

When you work from home, it’s all too easy to wake up at noon and lounge around in your pajamas. One day bleeds into the next. You might wonder how it’s possible for so much time to pass without accomplishing much at all. If this sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’re not planning out your days. Just because you’re staying at home doesn’t mean you should go without a schedule. It’s important for you to buy a planner or a desktop calendar that can sit in your work space. If you’re on a tight budget, you could also use Google Calendar, or a notebook you already own.

Keep yourself organized in order to be productive. Credit: Shutterstock

Humans thrive on structure, and it’s hard to get out of bed when you have nothing to look forward to. You might assume that there’s not much you could write in your planner, since you already know the drill. But once you get in the habit, you’ll be shocked to see how much it actually helps with productivity. If you’re not sure where to start, write down the simple things, like “Wake up at 8 AM. Shower. Feed the cat.” Then, incorporate one household task per day, like organizing your closet, along with your workplace tasks. Boredom is often an illusion, and you can be as busy as you want to be. It’s all about perspective.

This artist’s desk has amazing city views. Credit: Shutterstock

16. Give Yourself a Nice View

Your eyes need a break from looking at the screen. It helps to look up at something across the room, but it’s even better if you have a room with a view. This gives you a reminder that there is still a beautiful world out there. However, not all views were created equal, and sometimes, it can be a distraction. I’ve worked remotely from AirBnB’s, hotels, and different homes over the past few years. Sometimes, a desk near a window can inspire me to work harder, like a hotel view of New York City. Other times, it’s distracting, and I’d be better off working somewhere else.

Having a nice view can help give your eyes a break from the computer screen. Credit: Shutterstock

Sometimes, a well-intentioned office view can backfire. For example, I recently stayed at an AirBnB in England where the home office desk faced the street. Since it was on the ground floor, I could hear and see people walking on the sidewalks in the village, and they could see me. During the daytime, the sun shone so bright, it blinded the computer screen. This was distracting, annoying, and it made me feel exposed. So I just sat at the kitchen table for two weeks, and the home office became wasted space. Always weigh the pros and cons of your view before you set up a work space.

Dual monitors can help you be more productive during your work day. Credit: Shutterstock

15. Set up a Dual Monitor

Depending on your line of work, you might want to consider setting up a desk with a dual monitor. This can help you work more quickly, especially if you need to see a lot of information at one time. If you already own an iPad or a Kindle Fire $54.98, you should consider getting a tablet stand so that it can stand upright as your second screen. Laptop stands also help to elevate the screen to eye-level when you’re working with two computers at once. For computer programmers, graphic designers, and day traders, it’s absolutely necessary to have two or three screens at once. So it’s normal for people in this line of work to own more than one computer. Even if you’re not in this line of work, you can still benefit from their techniques.

Sometimes, computer programmers need multiple screens. Credit: Shutterstock

If you don’t already have this extra equipment at your disposal, it might sound like it would cost a lot of money to accomplish. Keep in mind that this project doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive. If you own a MacBook , it’s possible to go into your system settings to toggle between two different screens. All you need to do is use an HDMI cable to hook your Macbook up to a second computer monitor, or your TV. Follow tutorials online that explain how to set up two screens. It may be possible for you to pull this off with the tech you already own at home.

The cleaner your workspace is, the more efficient you will be. Credit: Burst by Shopify

14. Keep Your Workspace Clean

When you work from home, you’re allowed to break all of the rules that your boss had in the office. You can eat and drink at your desk, and take your time cleaning up. When no one is there to tell you what to do, you might fall behind on making things tidy. However, after spending hours in your home office, it’s all too easy to let clutter pile up. Whether you realize it or not, clutter will prevent you from being productive.

A spotless desk can help make it more inviting. Credit: Shutterstock

If you walk over to your desk and see a pile of paperwork, empty cups, plates, and tangled wires, your brain will immediately tell you to stay away. On the flip side, if you walk to your desk and see a perfectly clean and organized station, you might actually look forward to working. Also remember to wipe down your work surfaces and technology. Germs and viruses love to linger on surfaces, so it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re sanitizing everything you touch.

It’s important to organize your work space efficiently. Credit: Shutterstock

13. Get Organized

Some people claim that they “like” things to be messy, because they know where to find everything. This is just an excuse not to organize, and it’s usually not true. How many times have you purchased something in the store, only to realize later that you already owned it? And how often do you find yourself searching for something that’s lost? This is a sign that you have too much stuff, and it’s not organized properly. When you work from home, it’s crucial to have a “home” for everything. And when it’s time to find something, it should only take a few seconds for you to grab it, instead of minutes. The time you save finding things will seriously add up throughout your days, weeks, and months working from home.

Always have your necessary items on-hand in case you need them. Credit: Shutterstock

Organization also goes beyond your physical space. If you find that you reply to emails late, or you can’t find your digital files, this is a red flag. It could be a sign that your computer needs to get organized, too. Create a filing system that helps you get your tasks done in an efficient manner. Once you’re organized, you’ll find that you can breeze through your work, and get back to doing things you enjoy.

Having plants in your office can help to bring life to a space. Credit: Burst by Shopify

12. Fill Your Office With Plants

One of the top tips from interior designers is to add plants to your living space. This advice is relevant in your home office space, too. Plants will give any room a pop of color. It also helps to clean the air, which is important in a place where you’re going to spend a lot of time. And whether you realize it or not, humans need a connection with nature if they want to alleviate anxiety. Just make sure your office space has enough sunlight to keep your plants alive. If you can only work in a dark space, consider buying a faux plant, instead. Once you have some sort of plant in your office, you’ll be surprised by how nice it actually feels.

Plants help clean the air, and make a space feel more alive. Credit: Shutterstock

Stores like Lowes, Home Depot, and Walmart all have garden centers. They’re all allowed to stay open, because they’re considered essential. So it won’t be difficult for you to find plants to buy. But before you buy any plants, make sure you’re ready for the responsibility. Taking care of a plant is sort of like caring for a pet. You need to learn how to water it the correct amount, remove its dead leaves, and feed it plant food. And when you go on vacation, you may even need to ask a friend to take care of them while you’re gone.

This office takes advantage of the empty space near the ceiling. Credit: Shutterstock

11. Take Advantage of Vertical Space

If you’re working out of a small home office or a bedroom, the amount of space you’re using is probably limited. Most people don’t have the luxury of filling up an entire room as their home office. Bookshelves, filing cabinets, and a second table might not be an option. However, a lot of people completely overlook the fact that they have empty space on their walls. Take a look around your room and ask yourself if something can be on the wall, instead. For example, TV wall mounts are relatively cheap to buy online. As long as you have a power drill, you and your roommate or partner could hang your TV together, and eliminate any unnecessary furniture that you were using as a stand.

This desk has an upper book shelf that takes advantage of vertical space. Credit: Amazon

Consider installing floating shelves above your desk to store books, plants, and other objects that would take up too much space otherwise. If you’re especially handy with construction, you might even consider installing upper cabinets for storage. Lastly, you could have a desk with an attached shelf . This gives you a lot of extra storage, and it fully takes advantage of your vertical space.

Sometimes, your desk needs to be large enough for two computers. Credit: Shutterstock

10. Make Sure Your Desk is Big Enough

Far too many people make the mistake of buying a desk online, only to be shocked by how small it is once it arrives. Every online listing will give you dimensions in inches or centimeters. So make sure you actually figure out how big your desk needs to be in order for you to be comfortable. This is crucial for someone who’s tall, or anyone who needs extra space to get their work done. You may need to buy a standing desk that adjusts its height, just in case you’re not sure how big the desk needs to be, and you want the option to adjust your ergonomics.

I use an old retail display table as my desk, because I need to fit a lot on there at once. Credit: Shannon Quinn

For years, I used a vintage writing desk. It looked cute, and it served its purpose when I worked in an office full-time. But once I began working from home, I realized that it was actually cramped, uncomfortable, and annoying. If I wanted to be productive and sit for hours at a time, I needed a bigger space. My new desk is actually an old metal and acrylic retail display table that I found at Goodwill. It was dinged up, so I used faux concrete wallpaper to cover the surface. Now, the desk looks like something out of a magazine, even though it was incredibly cheap. I also have a friend who purchased a piece of plywood and stuck a few legs on it, just so he could have a large desk. It doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy, so long as it helps your productivity.

Once you take the time to personalize your home office, it can be exciting to work. Credit: Shutterstock

9. Add Artwork and Other Personal Touches

The great thing about working from home is that you can decorate your space any way you want. There are no rules about how many photographs or knick knacks you have on your desk. And you don’t have to feel embarrassed about your choice of artwork. You should decorate your workspace with the things you love, because it will make you excited to sit and be productive.

Hang art and other things that bring you joy at work. Credit: Shutterstock

If there is a piece of art you have wanted for a long time, now might be a good time to splurge. And it doesn’t always have to be expensive, either. In the previous entry, I included a photo of my desk. I have a vintage movie poster of the 1960 French film Breathless. Once I found it online, I was able to resize it on Photoshop to make sure it was large enough to print. Then, I took a flash drive to Walmart, where they printed it in their photo center for $16. The frame was $20, making it just $36 for the art. You can do something similar, or search online for pictures that give you inspiration to get work done.

Try to get creative with adding storage to your existing space. Credit: Shutterstock

8. Get Creative With Storage

Very few people can afford to hire a professional organizer like Marie Kondo. Even if you read her book Joy at Work: Organizing Your Professional Life or watched the Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, you might be wondering how you could apply those tips to your own space. Instead of wishing that you could give your space an overhaul, get creative with the things you already have at your disposal. When you think outside of the box, you can rearrange the furniture and items you already have, and only spend a small amount of money to buy additional baskets and bins.

Baskets and boxes are a great way to organize your things. Credit: Shutterstock

I wish I could afford to pay for a full Ikea closet system in my home office space. But for now, I used cheap white bookshelves and white plastic organization bins , instead. Every bin has a different category of item. One is filled with extra wires and chargers, while another has ink for my printer. This way, it’s easy for me to find something when I need it. And when you walk into the room, it looks sleek and organized, instead of being a huge pile of junk.

Don’t let your wires get tangled to this point. Credit: Shutterstock

7. Manage the Wires

When you work from home, you’ll quickly begin to notice just how many wires are involved. You’re going to be charging your phone, laptop, and iPad. And if you’re using a desktop computer and television, all of them have wires, too. These can easily get tangled if you’re not careful. Try to prevent a mess by using No products found. which can keep all of your wires in one place. If you own a label maker you can type out which wire goes to which product, so you never get confused.

Surge protectors are a good way to keep your wires in a row. Credit: Shutterstock

Sometimes, wires will get tangled even if you do your best to keep them separated. This is where Cable Clips come in. These are incredibly affordable, but they’ll save your sanity. Or, create a system where certain technology is moved to another area of the house, and you only keep your necessary items with you all the time. For example, you could plug your phone across the room, which will help keep you less distracted from focusing on work.

Don’t forget to use painter’s tape if you want to be precise while painting. Credit: Shutterstock

6. Paint the Room, if Necessary

There are plenty of people out there who needed to create a home office out of an extra bedroom, or neglected basement space. If this room was painted a dark color, you might find yourself feeling down in the dumps. It’s not you- it’s the color! An instant way to brighten a room and make it feel more cheerful is to paint it a lighter color. The good news is that Walmart sells cans of paint for just $20 to $30 per gallon, so it should be affordable on almost any budget.

Let your kids help paint a room. Credit: Shutterstock

Cream and white give you the opportunity to use pops of color in your decor. But if you prefer to use color, try to go for light pastels. Remember that color darkens over time, so keep that in mind when you choose your color palette. When I first began working from home, my office space was painted lavender. This was perfect for a bedroom, because it had a soothing effect. But as an office, it did the opposite of what my brain needed. I needed to be able to feel awake, rather than lulled to sleep. So now, my office is painted beige, and I love it. Fair warning- if you’ve never painted a wall before, make sure you watch some tutorials online, first.

Your pets will want to hang out with you during the work day. Credit: Shutterstock

5. Give Your Pet a Place to Hang Out

Dogs and cats across the world are absolutely thrilled that their humans are spending more time at home. Working with your pet is actually very soothing, and has been proven to alleviate anxiety. This is one of my favorite aspects of working from home. But a lot of people out there are experiencing a new issue- Their dogs and cats don’t understand boundaries. Your animals may be climbing on your lap, walking over the keyboard, or interrupting Zoom calls.

Dogs everywhere are thrilled that their humans can give them more attention. Credit: Shutterstock

If you want your pets in the room with you, but you don’t want them to get in the way, give them a new bed to sleep on. In some cases, you may need to put the bed underneath your desk. This gives your buddy a calm place to spend time with you, and they’ll feel excited and happy to know that they’re welcome in your work space. And if they want to play, don’t ignore them. Take a few minutes to play catch in the backyard, or dangle a cat toy. Once they have let out their energy, they’re more likely to sit and relax.

Natural light is key to feeling awake and happy in your work space. Credit: Shutterstock

4. Use Natural or Ambient Light

If you have the luxury of choosing which room in your house you want to place your home office, always go for a room with natural light. Right now, a lot of people are struggling with finding motivation to get out of bed and be productive without the constraints of a normal work schedule. Remember that you want to stay awake and focused. Sunlight is one of the best ways to do that. Open your curtains, and let the breeze flow through on a warm day.

If you don’t have natural light in your home, opt for ambient light, instead. Credit: Shutterstock

Don’t have any sunlight to speak of? Buy a lamp with ambient light, instead. We’re lucky to live in a time where LED bulbs can replicate bright white sunlight. On a cloudy day, be sure to turn the lights on, even in the daytime. Yes, this might cost a bit more in electricity. But if it means keeping you focused, you’ll find that you can breeze through work much quicker.

Decorate your work space so that it’s a source of inspiration every day. Credit: Shutterstock

3. Inspire Yourself

At high fashion magazines, they always dedicate a wall for a “mood board”, which showcases the theme for the month. This way, everyone who works in the office can look at the board and be reminded of the vibe they are aiming for. They used this for inspiration whenever they’re feeling stuck. Even if you’re just working by yourself in your home office, you can still replicate the same experience in your home office. Personally, I prefer to make inspiration boards on Pinterest, so that everything exists in the digital world, instead.

Inspire yourself by hanging up photos that are relevant to your work. Credit: Shutterstock

Maybe your work isn’t in the creative field, so it’s not necessary for you to have a mood board. Alternately, you could be inspired by your personal dreams by creating a “vision board”, instead. If you’ve read The Secret you’re already familiar with the concept. But for any of you who are new to vision boards, it’s a visual collection of all the things you’d like to accomplish. This can be made with pictures you print from the internet, or photos cut out of a magazine.

Soundproof walls can help for anyone who works in media. Credit: Shutterstock

2. Consider Soundproofing the Walls

If you’ve chosen a sparsely furnished room for your home office, you might notice that it has an echo. When you’re just doing administrative work, this might not be so bad. But it’s terrible for Skype and Zoom calls, and it can completely ruin any type of audio recording. If you want to improve the sound quality of a room, you should add a rug on the floor, furniture, plants, and other items that will dampen an echo.

You can order sound paneling online. Credit: Shutterstock

Sometimes, if you have high ceilings, this echo will still be there, even if the room is fully furnished. No matter how hard you try, there will always be a slight echo in the room. This is where sound dampening panels come in. You’ll want these to be across from where you’re speaking. Sound waves move back and forth. These panels help to break up the waves so that they don’t immediately bounce back. Thankfully, there are only a few of you out there who will need to take this step in your home office.

It’s important to keep all of your paperwork organized. Credit: Shutterstock

1. Manage Your Paperwork

Last but certainly not least for your home office is that you’re going to suddenly have a lot of extra paperwork on your hands. Instead of handing papers into your boss, or bring it to another department, your employer might expect you to hold onto records. Even if most of your documents are digital, you still might need to handle extra mail coming to your door. All of this can quickly become a mess if you’re not careful. This is why it’s crucial to stay on top of your paperwork, and keep things organized.

If you’re not careful, your paperwork can pile up during this crisis. Credit: Shutterstock

Thankfully, managing your paperwork is easy. Create an organizational system of where you plan to put your mail as soon as it comes into the house. Mail holders are great for this, and they can sit by your front door. Once you’re ready to sort your mail, you should throw away junk immediately. If you handle private information for clients, consider buying a paper shredder if you don’t already own one. Lastly, buy an accordion file box that’s portable. This way, once it’s time for you to return to your office, you will have an organized collection of your work-related documents ready to be transported back to your boss.

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