Are you ready to work from home? I assume you already have a location in mind for your office – a place where you would be happy spending 6 – 8 hours a day. Once you know where you will be working, here’s what you need to make it happen:
Desk – This may seem simplistic, but you will need a work surface. It may not be a traditional office desk, but you need enough space for your computer, for reading or reviewing paper, and for everyday tools. It doesn’t have to be a contiguous surface – a separate computer table and writing desk will do – but you will need approximately 60 inches in length by 24-30 inches in depth.
Chair – Buy the best office chair you can afford. Look for an office chair designed according to ergonomic principles, with adjustable seat height and back. Wheels are good – it makes it easy to scoot over to a file. When sitting at your desk, make sure the chair is high enough (or the desk low enough) so that you can use your keyboard with your wrists flat. Adjust the monitor so you can see it without bending your neck. Raise a laptop with a docking station and use a wireless keyboard. Your back, neck and wrists will thank you.
Power – Seems obvious, but make sure the wiring in your office will handle all the electronic equipment you use. Call an electrician to check the circuit and if you need to, install extra outlets. The building codes have changed since many of our older houses were built, and you may have inadequate wiring. Always use surge protectors for your electronics.
Lighting – Listen to your mother and don’t read in the dark! Strong, bright task lighting is essential to working without strain. If you have good natural light, you may only need a small halogen lamp on your desk. Either way, a well-lit workspace will ward off eyestrain and headaches.
Wastebasket/Shredder – Yes, the circular file. Buy a large wastebasket and use it. There are very inexpensive wire mesh wastebaskets in a style I call “neutral,” or find one that fits your décor. Just make sure it is big. Develop a habit of opening mail next to the wastebasket and throwing junk mail, catalogs and unsolicited material away immediately. Anything with your name and address or an account number needs to be shredded. Shred those promotional checks you get from your credit card. Go through a few old files a day and toss or shred dated or otherwise useless paper. Eighty percent of your trash will be recyclable paper – use the big wastebasket for it and buy a smaller wastebasket for everything else.