My Home Office


We’ve previously covered planning your home office and setting up your home office here on WebWorkerDaily. Here I share a real-life home office: mine. I’m not a decorator — far from it, just an organized person who wants things to have a place and feel comfortable where I spend most of my time during the work week. Seriously, if I can set up a home office like mine, anyone can.

I don’t let my family mess with my home office. Sure, they can borrow my stapler and tape as long as they promise to bring it back: one sneak held on to my stapler for a week! At least it’s not a red Swingline stapler (I wish). But no leaving toys and backpacks behind. It’s also the tidiest place in the house, something important to the neat freak I am.

Meryl's office

The home office also sets aside a working space that sends a message to the family that I’m working. Moms and Dads can keep dreaming that their office space will keep out children. However, kids will disrupt your work less often in a dedicated office than if you work in a bedroom or living room.

Though a small space, the setup works well. Let’s just say the master bathroom has more room than the office. Every web worker’s office space requirements differ based on their jobs and space available.

Before I became a full-time web worker, I had my “office” in the family room. This let me keep an eye on the baby — now five-years-old — and the other kids. I moved into my current home office when the youngest was two and I switched to full-time freelancing.

This post lists things I have that make me feel “at home” in my home office. Maybe they’ll inspire yours. For more inspiration, see 5 Inspirational Workspaces.

Desk. Not just any desk. The desk housing the computer, keyboard and mouse must feel comfortable. This includes the right height for the mouse, keyboard and monitors. Ergonomics do matter: I’ve worked on someone else’s desk for a while and my wrist and arm ached. That signaled to me that my desk setup was right for me. A good setup makes a real difference. If you feel pain within an hour, keep adjusting. My desk is a cheap one with wheels (leftovers from working in the family room), and it works. The fancier L-shaped desk facing the wall sits to my right and behind me. It holds supplies, files, paperwork, laser and color printers, stationery and décor.

Shelves. I only need one bookshelf because the L-shaped desk contains the needed shelves (see in image below) for supplies, papers, folders and other knickknacks. I used to have two bookshelves (the other sat below the picture you see in the above image), which made the office space a tad uncomfortable and tight. After rearranging things, I moved my lesser important books upstairs where most of the books live.

Supplies. As much as I limit paper use, I’ll always need staplers, tape, rubber bands, scissors and stamps. I don’t waste time hunting down for these little items because they wait for me in the right spots. A little container holding pens, pencils, highlighters and scissors sits to the left of my keyboard (proud southpaw here) for easy access. The tape and stapler sit on a shelf behind me because I don’t use them as much as the writing tools. Next to the pencil holder is a small three-drawer container that holds the checkbook, sticky notes and little items needing to be within reach without turning around. It prevents clutter — muy importante!

Equipment. An all-in-one printer saves space. I have two printers: a laser printer and an all-in-one that includes a scanner, copier and color printer. I also have a fax machine. Two monitors sit on my desk side-by-side and I’d make room for a third. Having items on two screens at the same time makes me more efficient. Since I don’t want to turn up the heat or air conditioner just for me, I keep a portable fan and heater in the office. That’s one advantage of a small office — it’s easier to control the temperature. An ergonomic chair makes a difference and is well worth the investment. That and a footstool support my ergonomic setup. Also a lamp ensures I have the right lighting when it’s a rainy day or nighttime.

Books. As a writer, I rely on many reference books even though many web sites provide similar references.

Personal items. My walls hold my college diploma, several career certificates, my skydiving certificate from my first skydive, my spouse’s military awards and two art works, one of which contains famous Fort Worth buildings — where I was born and raised. While my spouse doesn’t work in this office, I like having his awards here because it’s his home, too. Besides, his awards don’t have a logical place anywhere else in the house.

The L-shaped desk contains photos of the kids, little toys, a Donald Duck clock that belonged to my father and other mementos. Not all employees like to have personal items in their cubicles or offices and that’s OK. I hardly look at these items, but they provide a personal touch and the occasional smile.

The L-shaped Desk

A home office provides the right environment to ensure productivity. The colors, the windows, lighting and décor create the atmosphere. The desk, equipment and supplies support daily work activities.

What do you have in your home office? How does it make a difference in your work?

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