Some of us have dreamt of the wondrous flexibility of working from home that includes going swiftly from breakfast to desk without the commute. Others of us have woken up just in time for a 9 a.m. meeting thankful to not wait for a late train. For those of us who are taking classes online or working remotely, a dedicated work space is crucial to getting work done. With coffee shops and co-working spaces closed around the country, creating a space in your home to work has become a priority. And, just in case you were wondering, working from your bed is not a sufficient home office setup. It’s not good for the body or for productivity. So, how do you create a home office with a tight budget and in an even tighter space? It’s easier than you think.
Start with a chair. I know this sounds backwards, but hear us out. The chair holds your body. The desk holds your stuff. The chair is the priority. Sure, you could buy a fancy office chair, but they are often bulky and expensive. Find a low-profile chair with back support. If you can imagine yourself sitting comfortably in it at brunch for a few hours, it’s a winner.
Next, pick your desk. It doesn’t have to be a traditional desk. It could be your breakfast bar or your dining table. It could be a collapsible table on a wall. Determine what surface best accommodates all your tech. If you find yourself with two pieces of furniture, place it in an area that accommodates both pieces comfortably. In tight spaces, it may be in a corner, a nook, a converted closet, or even a hall.
Check the lighting. An office with a view may have been out of your reach at your job but may be a new perk of your home office. Place your workspace near a window when possible to lighten your mood and warm your work area. Window or not, you will need a lamp. Focus the lamp on the task at hand. If your lighting is overhead, avoid sitting directly under the light to prevent glare. Aiming floor lamps upwards can help illuminate tight spaces by bouncing light off walls and ceilings.
Control the noise. This is a great time to invest in those noise-canceling headphones or earbuds. Use them to take calls or to tune out your roommates. It will help you stay focused on what you’re working on.
Choose how you would like to store your work supplies. Some of us may need a large bookshelf or a filing cabinet. Others don’t. Some of us may just need a desk organizer or small storage box. Determine what you need to hold all the things that you need for work. Storage helps you keep your desk organized and reduces clutter.
Now that you have a workspace, you should set office hours. When you work from home, life and work can easily blur together. Take a lunch break. Get up for 15 minutes to stretch. And, most importantly, shut down your computer when your work day is over.