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Top 5 Must-Haves for Setting Up a Home Office

5 Tips for Increasing Productivity and Your Happiness
Home Office Desk
Published on July 15, 2010 : 1 comment

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A good office set-up can be as minimal or as extravagant as you like (and can afford). I opt for less is more and am trying to cut the clutter—which can be tough with three kids underfoot. Whether you have a dedicated room as your office, or you use a corner or closet in a room that is already purposed, you need to set it up for maximum productivity for you and your business. So what do you need to succeed?

1. A good computer system, including a printer

Depending on what all you’re doing from home, you can talk to one of the computer guys at Nebraska Furniture Mart and they can help you find the computer that works the best for you. In addition to the actual computer, you’ll also need a good printer.Dual Monitor SetupDual Monitor Setup This is a little embarrassing to admit, but we actually have three hooked up on our desks here: a black-and-white laser printer for my everyday printing, a photo printer for digital photography, and an all-in-one inkjet.

One great productivity tip that we’ve passed on to some of our clients: If you’re working on a lot of projects involving internet research, graphic design, writing, or pretty much anything else we can think of, it’s a great thing to invest in two monitors to have side-by-side on your desktop. It looks a little odd, but once I tried this, I couldn’t go back to just one screen. I get at least 30% more done each day because of this set-up.

2. A great chair

A comfortable office chair is crucialA comfortable chair is crucialYou don’t always have to spend a lot to get a comfortable chair, but since this is going to be where you’re “living” for at least a few days a week, get one that really supports your back and doesn’t make you ache. Don’t go just for what’s trendy or judge them just based on price. You can find good, comfortable chairs for under $100.

If newness isn’t important to you, check out services like Craigslist, the online classified ads, or Freecycle, whose “prices” undercut even the cheapest retailers and friends.

3. A desk that works for you

I’ve had a few desks over the years as my home office has expanded. Starting with just a small desk and working up to my new L-configuration desk. You have to find one that works for you. Think about how you work best and how you like to take notes or write a letter or anything else you need to do for your business.

1980's Home Office SetupClassic 1980’s Home Office SetupFor example, I’m right-handed, and I like to print out a copy of whatever writing project I’m working on and make notes on the hard copy and correct the project on my computer. So my computer is on my left-hand side and I can swivel over to take notes on the right-hand side of my L-desk. It drove me crazy when I just had a desk that was big enough for my computer and that was it. I had to lay out writing and editing projects on our coffee table to get anything done. Not fun at all!

4. Decorations in your office that make you happy

This may not be something that your budget can handle as you’re starting up your business, but you can find some bargains by shopping clearance sales or visiting Goodwill Retail Centers or consignment stores like Consignments Made Easy. Find some artwork that relaxes or invigorates you. Sitting in just a blank-walled room working away for most of your day is one of the surest ways to make sure you burn out quickly. Something to take your mind off of the stress on your busiest of days is a great way to take a 2-minute vacation.

Looking for something even cheaper? One of my favorite things to hang on the walls—in addition to pictures of our girls and the artwork they’ve made for me—are funny cartoons or pictures that are sent to me by my friends. I print those out at home and hang them, and they make me laugh out loud when I look at them. Plus, I can change them out as they get old or I get sick of looking at them.

5. Other furniture?

Other furniture that I have on my must-have list include bookshelves and a good file cabinet. I use my file cabinet for all of my “keeper” files that I don’t use on a daily basis. Those that I use on a daily basis are kept in my one file drawer in my desk, so they’re at my fingertips when I need them. I also read a lot of business books and take online classes so I keep everything organized on my bookshelves for all of my other projects.

And a bonus must-have…

Cock pots are great time saversCrock pots are great time saversOkay, so this one isn’t so much for the office, but will make working from home so much easier…a good crock pot. I can throw a roast in or the ingredients for soup or whatever I want to make for that night’s dinner and it’s done when I’m done working. This has helped us keep on our grocery budget by not running out for take-out all the time, and it’s so much better for you than fast food.

Do you have a favorite must-have that I’ve missed here? Feel free to paula [at] psdodds [dot] com (email me) or comment below.

Paula Dodds is Co-Owner/Principal of P.S. Dodds.


cpooschke says:

July 15, 2010 : 13 years 48 weeks ago

cpooschke's picture

Love the CROCK POT mention! Great idea :)

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