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How do I turn my home office into a great place to work?

02/11/2009

Maybe you work for an employer who lets you work from home from time to time. Maybe you are a freelance consultant and you only work from home to do your administration. Maybe you are self-employed and work from home. Maybe you even give workshops at home and you receive customers at your place. Although each situation is specific and different, for all of them it is important to turn your office into a nice place to work.

Do you have your own office space in a separate room? When I started my own company, the only place I could place my desk was in a corner of the living-room. It may have been a nice corner, but it was nevertheless in the living room. My husband has a practice at home, and we have 2 young daughters who like to play in that same living-room, make loud noises and run around the table. So, how do you think I enjoyed the experience? A few months later, I finally had a Eureka moment and found a nice solution. I put the girls in the same bedroom and could therefore use the small bedroom (where the little one was previously sleeping) as my new office. My oldest daughter wasn’t too happy about it, but I definitely was! Finally some quietness, peace, concentration, focus, my own space, it was so great!

The furniture is what defines the function of a room. If there’s a bed it’s a bedroom. If there’s a dining table then it’s a dining room. But it happens often that some rooms have a double function, in which case there will always be a primary and a secondary one. The spare bedroom for instance is often used for other purposes. Or the desk comes in the bedroom. Or maybe even fitness appliances… It is possible to combine those of course, but then you need to be able to draw a line between them. If your desk is for instance in your bedroom, make sure you don’t see it when you go to bed, and that the computer and the printer are off. Use therefore a draught-screen or a beautiful curtain for example.

What colors do you like? My office used to be my youngest daughter’s bedroom. When we decorated it for her, we used beautiful wallpaper with flowers and butterflies. You know what? It’s still there. And not because we hate putting the wallpaper, as we like the DIY stuff quite a lot, but because I like it soooo much! It has a white background, and some touches of colors, light blue, orange and purple. Light blue gives rest, purple helps you to focus, orange gives you energy. Exactly what I need to work efficiently!

So what colors do you like? Which ones give you energy, which ones do you avoid? It is important as well to have things around you that give you energy because you like them, because they are nice to look at. Pictures of your family members, nice souvenirs you took back from travelling, fresh flowers, a vision board or a mood board, an inspiring quote, etc.

What kind of furniture do you need? (Apart from a desk and a good chair). First of all it is important to have enough space, on your desk and in your closet; so that you can fit everything you need to have in your office. Of course, if you have a separate room, you can easily close the door and forget about it. Although, even then, you will agree with me that a cleaned up desk (and office) always gives a good feeling. If you don’t have a lot of space in your closet, you need to regularly check what you really need to have at hand and what you can put somewhere else, in another room/closet. (And if you need more advice on that you need to ask a professional organizer!)

Where should you put your desk? It seems pretty simple, but it is not always the case… Feng-Shui says that you have to be able to see (when you are sitting at your desk) the door so that you can see who is coming in. The reason is that it just does not feel comfortable when somebody sneaks into your office and surprises you… Feng-Shui also says that you should not sit facing the wall; otherwise it feels like you have an obstacle in front of you. But that you should rather sit with your back to the wall, so that you can feel protected and safe. You also have to take care that the light (from the window) does not come from behind you otherwise it may disturb you because of the reflection on your (computer) screen.

If you send me via email before 20th November a picture of your home office, you could be winning a free advice on how to decorate your home office, which I will then publish on my blog (together with your picture)!

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