5 Tips for Setting Up Your Home Office

mother writes next to computer
Image via iStock

Working from home? Whether part-time or full-time, working at home can be a challenge.

The first thing you need to do is set up a proper workspace. Building an appropriate space can boost your efficiency, increase productivity, and help establish needed boundaries.

Here are five tips to help you get started.

Image via Tracy Jensen

1. Consider how much space you need.

Do you need a lot of room to lay out papers or use multiple monitors? Keep a lot of print files?

Know your own office style as well as your job needs. If you're someone who gets distracted with too much on your desk, look for something with more drawers and files. If you prefer to keep all open projects out on your desk, a larger, flat surface might be a better fit.

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Most of my files are on Google Drive, so I only need a small nook. My desk is nestled in the corner with enough space for me to type, but small enough to keep clutter at a minimum.

Image via Tracy Jensen

2. Keep key tools in sight.

What do you need to reference on a daily basis? Whether you need a calendar, contact list, or books, a bulletin board and hanging shelf can make access easy while saving space.

Modular systems like the one pictured here are available for a variety of styles and budgets.

Young Son With His Career-Minded Mother
Image via iStock

3. Build a workspace that is easy to leave.

While it's tempting to set up shop at your dining room table, this can make it difficult to be present during family time and more difficult to stay organized. Create an area that you can physically leave behind when the workday is done.

notepad calculator ruler pens pencil bulldog clip
Image via iStock

4. Keep supplies stocked.

Working at home means being your own office manager. Set a regular time on your calendar to make inventory of supplies and stock up. Nothing kills productivity–and your ability to meet a deadline–more quickly than finding you are low on printer ink an hour before school pickup.

{ MORE: 3 Reasons to Set Family Goals in the New Year }

Image via Tracy Jensen

5. Keep an office bin for small helpers.

Kids love to play “work,” especially when you are trying to wrap up a project. Keep a bin of special pens, tape, a steno pad, and other “grown up” supplies so your helpers can join in when needed – without taking apart your office.

My secret weapons? A bulk pack of restaurant order pads and a lap desk. My 3- and 5-year-olds love the official look of the restaurant pads, and my daughter sits at her lap desk on the floor next to me.

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What tools have you found effective for working at home?

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5 Tips for Setting Up Your Home Office

Tracy Jensen is a writer, marketer, mother, fundraiser, marathoner, and music lover. A working, single mom of two kids ages six and five, she is notorious for doing things the hard way. In addition to writing for EverydayFamily, she survives suburban exile by blogging about life’s foibles at It Builds Character. She can be found at night ignoring the dishes and playing on Twitter. ... More

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