What a daunting challenge to create the perfect home office. Does my office above look perfect? It is for me, but it probably isn't for you. That's the real issue with these types of planning posts - what works for one person is totally out of sync with another. What if your office is in your car? Or your dining room table? What if you hate white, or need a whole room dedicated to your work? Don't worry, I have you covered.
This post is much longer then my usual ones, and is about analyzing your specific needs and making sure they are met in a way that helps you instead of hinders you. There are questions below to start you thinking about what it is that you NEED as opposed to what you THINK you need. Its basically a mini course. OK, here we go:
It is likely that you have a space already in mind for a home office. For mine (pictured above) I took the doors off a closet to get a couple more feet out of a long narrow room, and use the space a bit better. I still have storage above for my partner's art, and I have a great zoom background that no one is allowed to touch except me.
When choosing your space keep some things in mind:
Once you have chosen a spot you will need to figure out basic furniture.
Now the meat and potatoes of the office space design. What do YOU actually need. This will take about a week of analysis, but should only be a couple minutes every day. First, take a photo of your current desk as is. I suggest a photo because we often see things differently in them, and you also want to see how far you've come at the end. Now you need to get a paper and write a list of everything that is on your desk. If it looks like this and you are feeling daunted please remember that this is a very important first step, and we are there with you!
Now, put everything away that you think does not belong on your desk or in your office. If this is too much, at least put it all in a box and place it to the side, so that it is no longer on your desk.
Every day for the rest of the week (or about 5 days) keep track of what you use. Each time you stop work for the day tidy everything away in the box or in its other home. This is important because we are looking for patterns and if you only took your knitting into your office one time as an anomaly we don't want that down as something you must have. On the other hand, if you are cleaning up your knitting every day, you need to find a home for it in your office.
Here are some questions to keep in mind during your week:
Putting it all together
Now that you have your data its time to put it together. You can see what you actually used during the week - everything counts. Do you have a surplus of hair elastics? Pencils? Did you end up never using your headphones or did you find that knitting at your desk improved your creativity?
Now it is time to go through the box of things that were on your desk that didn't have a place. Why do you think they ended up there? Are there some systems you can put in place to make sure they don't end up messing up your space again?
There are so many ways that you can set up your office and the "right way" is the way that works for YOU. If it is not serving you, it is not perfect.
Now that you have your supplies in order, and your space chosen, there are some finishing touches that we will touch on now, and get into more detail in future posts.
Choosing a light that can be adjusted is paramount if you are using a task light. I suggest a light bulb that is full spectrum, or between 2800k and 3000k light temperature. This means the light is a warm light and has been known to lower anxiety and be easy on the eyes.
Posture is everything. Some people need to stand, some to sit. If you find that any part of you is getting tingly or numb, or if your back is aching or your shoulders burning, experiment with changing the height of your chair or your desk if possible. If you don't have a chair that is adjustable try adding a cushion or something to raise yourself up and see if the pain goes away. If not, you need to reevaluate your set up.
I have a gaming chair. It's not in the photo above partly because its huge, and partly because its so ugly. However, it is the most comfortable chair I have had in a long time. When choosing a chair remember - if you're in it, you don't have to see it! Comfort always is above looks when it comes to desk seating. You move quite a bit when sitting - it is far more active then people realize so good lumbar support and adjustable seat and back will go a long way to productive days and a happy back.
I hope you have found this helpful, if you want to go deeper into analysis and get some of my top tips for a perfect home office I have made a workbook which you can get HERE.