March 28, 2011

a home office that works: create a stress-free workspace

Today and tomorrow, the Bureau of Labor Statistics can count me among the 20 million Americans who work from home a couple of days a week. I’m fighting an important Friday deadline and need to focus on the project at hand. Luckily, my apartment has a built-in office space tucked away in a corner so I can leave my work in one space and not be lured back into it once I’ve shut my laptop and packed away my papers.

A few months ago, I gave my office area a small makeover thanks to daily inspiration from one of my favorite bloggers. While it’s nowhere near complete, I’ve found that it’s come in handy for days like today and tomorrow when I just need a serene, uncluttered (in the beginning at least) space to get into the zone and just work. If you’re looking to bring a stress-less vibe to your home office, these tips (some adapted from an article I wrote three years ago) can help create an inviting, calming office that encourages you to get your work done — without losing your mind!

cupcakes and cashmere emily schuman home office

{Emily's workspace remains an inspiration for my own home office — even though I have about half the desk space. Photo By Emily Schuman/Courtesy Cupcakes and Cashmere}

1. See the light.

Studies show that sunlight has a calming, clarifying effect on mood and concentration. People who work in daylight experience an increase in general well-being and productivity, according to a report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a facility of the U.S Department of Energy in Golden, Colorado. The evidence is so compelling that many European companies require all employees’ work stations be within 27 feet of a window. My home workstation is adjacent to my bedroom window, which I sometimes crack open to let in a little bit of crisp, cool air.

2. Pare down.

The office is home to massive energy and space thieves: printers, scanners, computers and shredders. Since starting my new job and moving into my new apartment, I’ve pared down my electronics in one way (no more desktop computer and printer!) while adding to my gadget collection in another way (damn smartphone). I appreciate the extra space I gained by getting rid of my home print/scan/copy machine.

3. Sit pretty.

One of the best investments you can make in your home office is a great desk chair. If buying new, choose ergonomic furniture, which provides better support and encourages better posture. If a brand new office chair isn’t in the budget, furnish your office with quality secondhand goods. Reupholster your finds in pretty colors and fabrics to add a little cheer to your home office. While I haven’t made this investment yet — we’re talking at least $200 for a nice, new office chair — I better start saving now because my complimentary chiropractic sessions from the teacher man’s soon-to-be-doctor friend are going to end once said soon-to-be-doctor moves to a different state in the coming weeks. Too bad I can’t use my flex spending dollars on an ergonomic chair!

How do you bring a sense of peace and calm to your home office? Give me some more tips in the comments section!

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  • Gina

    Oh my goodness, my office is a MESS. We are stripping the carpet out of it to make room for our new laminate flooring. We’re also going to paint it another color. So hopefully when that all gets done it will be like starting over. I would love an inspiring place to blog and scrapbook. Thanks for the inspiration. :)

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