I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent in my own home office, scouring the Internet for new listings, filling out paperwork, and coordinating inspections and showings and anything else my clients need.
If you’re planning on creating your own home office, here are my seven suggestions for a productive, life-giving workspace:
1) Keep your office separate from the rest of your house. This is key to maintaining a healthy work-life balance. A dedicated room is ideal, but if you don’t have an extra room lying around, you can make part of a bonus room a work-exclusive space. If all the space you have available is a desk, make that a work-only desk. Don’t also use that surface for scrapbooking or crafts with your kids. Don’t store Christmas decorations there. Keep work in that space, and keep the rest of your life out. In our workaholic culture, a clear distinction between work and play will benefit your mental health and make it easier to be fully present when you’re spending time with family and friends.
2) Comfortable lighting is key. I avoid florescent lighting like the plague (I don’t want to feel like I’m a cubicle!), and I take advantage of warm, cozy lighting: desk lamps with low-watt bulbs, candles, and sunlight. This sort of lighting makes me feel at peace, and it lets me relax even while working. One clarification: I keep the lights low, but not so low that I strain my eyes.
3) Spend money for a good desk chair. After thousands of hours in my office chair, I can tell you that a comfortable, well-supported throne means the world for my posture and lower back and—okay, a good chair affects my whole body. Look for lumbar support, variable height/tilt, firm padding. Investing in a good chair = investing in your future physical health.
4) Go green! Adding a few plants to your workspace freshens up the air, keeps the room from feeling lifeless, and gives you company, of a sort. Here’s a list of NASA’s recommendations for air-purifying houseplants.
5) Implement and maintain an organizational system. File cabinets come in all styles, so you can find one that doesn’t make you feel like you’re trapped in a 1990s office building. Whatever you use to organize, keep it accessible and well-organized. Setting up an efficient system will save you time in the long-run, and you won’t have to worry about accidentally misplacing something that you unexpectedly need four years down the road.
6) Keep your inspiration close at hand. Whether it’s clients, family, vacations, or something else that keeps you motivated, make sure your workspace reminds you why you’re putting in those hours.
7) Make your home office a place where you enjoy spending time. Put up some artwork, do a little interior design. Buy a nice clock, or add some knick-knacks. If you hate sitting at that desk, it’s going to be hard to not hate what you’re working on, too. And conversely, if you sit down to work and your environment makes you feel peaceful, empowered, and purposeful… well, you’re going to enjoy the tasks ahead of you.