Whether you are thinking about going back to school to brush up on your skills, looking for home employment, or creating your own home-based business, you will want to think about how to organize your home office space so that it helps you along your way.
Sitting on your couch with your laptop on the coffee table might seem like an easy way to go, but you are actually making things harder on yourself in the long run. Between a sore back from hours of bad posture every day to other people asking you questions and making noise when you are on the phone, you will soon see the need for a separate workspace. You will be much happier there if you think about what you need before you set it up.
What Are Your Needs?
Will it just be you, your computer, and the internet? Will you need space for some sort of inventory? Do you need a big bookcase for school books? What about files? How much space is even available for you to use? If you will be seeing clients, then you will want to be set up in an attractive area near an entrance to your home. If you are working exclusively on the internet and the phone, you will probably want an interior space with a door to keep out noises.
For example, I have two dogs who love to bark at the slightest noise. So I have set up my home office in part of my only bedroom because it is the most private space with a door to muffle the dogs barking and the living room TV which my husband has on most of the time.
Think Through the Basics
I know this is pretty obvious, but you’ll need a desk, a chair, a computer, a source of light, a printer, and software. There are lots of options for each one, so it pays to think about what you are doing before you get something that isn’t right for you.
The biggest consideration is always how you will be using the product.
I recommend getting the biggest desk you can comfortably fit in the space you have available. There is nothing worse than trying to work with piles of paper arranged on the floor around your chair. I’ve done it. It’s miserable. Even though I only have a corner of my bedroom for my office, I have set up a corner desk. It gives me room to spread around and be productive. In a smaller space, a desk with shelves above the workspace would be particularly helpful. I compare six high-quality economical desks HERE.
You’re going to spend a lot of hours in this chair. If it’s not comfortable or bothers your back, you will find reasons not to sit down to work. I have done it. I recommend a real office chair with good lower back support. If you are plus-sized like me you will want to get a chair that is designed to handle the extra weight. Otherwise, the hydraulic height control wears out after a while and you slowly sink toward the floor. What a waste! It’s a lot better to get one that is rated for your weight level if needed.
Your Light Source
You don’t want to feel like your workspace is in a closet or you’ll never want to use it. I use a full-spectrum lamp designed for people doing embroidery and fine crafts because it is bright and colors show up like they do in sunlight. It helps keep my blues away in winter and it keeps me awake when I need to burn the midnight oil. I really recommend it.
The type of computer you need depends on what you’re going to use it for. If you are doing office work or going to most university programs, a powerful but inexpensive laptop computer would serve your needs nicely. You can save extra money by getting a brand name refurbished computer.
On the other hand, if you are going to be doing any graphics design or video editing, you will need a much more powerful computer. You might even need a workstation. Those can be very expensive. One really great way to save money is to get one of these Microsoft-certified factory-refurbished computers. That is what I use because I tend to use several programs at once and need an especially powerful computer.
Whether you are going to school or working in today’s business environment, you will need Microsoft Office to type letters or assignments, prepare slide presentations, look at spreadsheets, and other necessary functions. Blair Technology Group, where I got my refurbished computer, has some with Office already loaded and ready to go for the first year.
Otherwise, you can get Office 365 from Microsoft Corporation and pay just $65 to use it each year. Office comes with Cloud Storage for your files and photos so it saves you from needing to get a very big hard drive on your computer. If you are starting your own business you will also need an accounting program, which can connect to your bank ledger over the internet and help you keep track of your income and expenses. It will be able to show you graphs of your profit from month to month and separate your expenses into categories. Get an accountant to help you set it up to suit your particular expense categories.
Puting it All Together
These are just the basics. But they do need to be thought of when you set up a home office. You are going to be spending hours each day sitting at your desk, so you need to be comfortable and have enough space. A good office chair is worth its weight in gold. A full-spectrum light at your desk is not only cheery but it can protect you from Seasonal Affective Disorder. You don’t want to feel like you are working in a closet, even if you are.
Your Computer is the centerpiece of your home office. It is your window to the world. Don’t skimp on that important investment. Refurbished computers with enough computing power are much better to work on than dinky ones that lock up every few minutes because they are trying to catch up with what you have just told them to do! Finally, you need productivity software like Microsoft office no matter what you decide to do, and if you go into business you can’t avoid accounting software to track income and expenses and show you the bottom line. These are the bare minimum things you will need to get for your home office workspace. You need to think about how you want to organize them instead of letting it happen by accident.