The following list constitutes some items that are of the utmost importance when setting up your home office. Many people often overlooked these when starting a home business.
LOCATION: Where you set up your home office will depend on your particular situation, but if at all possible use a spare room. Your best bet will be to set yourself off from the rest of the house in order to afford you some privacy. If this isn’t an option in your home, try to find the next best place where this could be accomplished. You need not be totally secluded from all intrusions, but you’ll want the option to be able to keep distractions to a minimum when necessary.
LIGHTING: If your office has a window you’ll receive natural lighting during the day. But if you plan to work in the evening or you don’t have the option of using a window, you will want to provide good artificial light that’s friendly to the eyes. Special light fixtures and bulbs made just for reading are readily available and could make a world of difference for a few extra dollars. Whether you choose overhead fluorescent lights, desk lamps or another type of fixture, be sure your office has plenty of good lighting.
DESK: The best scenario here would be to have a nice, professional-type desk. That’s not always possible, nor affordable, for many who are just starting out. If your work area will not permit it, or it’s just not in the budget at the moment, do whatever you can with what you have available. In time you’ll want to invest in a good desk with plenty of work and drawer space for your PC, files, supplies, etc. You don’t have to spend a small fortune to upgrade. I’ve found a few solid models at second-hand shops that needed only minor touching up. Check with your local Salvation Army Thrift Shop or on Yahoo Groups Recycle lists for your area, as people often donate desks they no longer have a need for in their homes/offices.
CHAIR: It may not sound like a major thing, but if you sit at a desk for long periods of time (and you shouldn’t do that anyway – take a five minute break every hour!) you’ll want to invest in a good chair with support for your lower back. Once again, you can find some really good deals if you keep your eyes open for them. Also, be sure to replace your chair when the padding is worn or you may start experiencing increasing back pain over time.
SUPPLIES: Know beforehand what you are going to need to run your business smoothly and then always try to have them readily available. It is inevitable that at some point you are going to run out of that thing you forgot to pick up at the store at just the wrong time. Nothing defeats productivity more than having to stop mid-stream, go pick up supplies and then try to get started back on your project again.
ORGANIZATION: I know that no matter how well-organized an office starts out being, there are some people that are just not going to let it stay that way. They aren’t, and never have been, organized themselves. With that said, do your best when setting up your office to keep organization in mind. Have the things you use often close by. Try to keep your files in the same location so that when you need to locate one, it’s where its’ supposed to be and you won’t find yourself running all over the house looking for it.
As for filing, this can be the worst and most-dreaded (but necessary) part of office work. My best advice: keep up with it. Set aside one time-slot each week to do the filing, or any other type of paperwork drudgery that’s necessary to keep it from piling up around you. Your job will be must easier in the long run.
PHONES: Depending on the type of business you have, the phone system you choose may not be a major issue. If you rely heavily on your telephone, find one with the functions you need. Likewise, if the phone is merely a source of interruption to you, then invest in a phone that offers a built-in messaging system. For many home business owners, a standard cordless phone is sufficient for their office also. A word to the wise: keep an “old-fashioned” corded phone on hand to use during power outages.
COMPUTER: If you rely on your computer for your home business, get the best one you can afford. It need not be expensive, but it MUST be reliable. If all that you can afford right now is a PC that’s considered to be outdated & slow, so be it-as long as it won’t cost you more money and time in repairs than you cannot afford while you’re just starting your business. Old & slow is fine for the interim, but beaten & broken is not. You don’t need major technical problems rearing their ugly heads while you’re in the middle of a project. When you can work it into your budget, upgrade to something a little more current, but don’t settle for something in the meantime that isn’t reliable.
IN CONCLUSION: Most everything you have in your office, from your chair to the lights, will affect your productivity in some way. While staying within your budget, try to get good equipment and furniture. Keep in mind that many of these items can be purchased second-hand. Along that line, eBay is another option to keep in mind. (Tip: always check a seller’s feedback rating before making a purchase online from someone you don’t personally know to be reputable.)
Your office space should be user-friendly, comfortable and private. Whatever you do with the space you have set aside for your office, keep these things in mind and you’ll be more productive over the long-term.