Posted by Alicia Sell
I have been working from home for four years. I love it, but it can also be challenging. When I was offered my job, my first thought was “Where I am going to put an office in this house?” We don’t have an empty bedroom, so that option was out. We have an open floor plan, which presents challenges if you need quiet. Through trial and error (and one office move later) I have compiled a list of the top 5 things to consider for selecting the perfect spot for a home office, or just a spot to call your own.
1. Avoid being near soft, comfy beds.
Our bedroom is oddly huge and I could have easily put my desk in there. I knew that would be a bad idea for two reasons:
- Naps are awesome.
- I get obsessive about work, and if I can’t sleep, I work. One of the hardest things about working from home is knowing when to STOP working. It is too easy to just do one more little thing. So avoid mixing work and relaxation spaces.
2. Doors are important.
You have to be able to shut a door to dogs, kids and husbands when absolute quiet and concentration is required. I learned this the hard way. For my first office, I selected a spot in our front sitting room, which, before I claimed it, rarely got used.
The fact that this location was completely open to the rest of the house did cross my mind, but I figured it wouldn’t be that bad. I quickly realized that the lack of privacy was a HUGE problem. The lighting was terrible, and I was easily distracted by every car and runner that went by my window. I made it work for a year, but after countless hours of moving my computer around the house and rarely working at my desk, I finally put up the white flag and changed locations. My old desk is still looking adorable in its location, but it now serves as a spot for homework and paying bills.
3. Don’t put your office too close to the kitchen.
Four months into my job, I figured out that the reason my clothes were crazy tight was not because my dryer was shrinking everything. It was because my first office location was exactly 10 steps from my pantry. Turns out my frequent laps to the kitchen were not enough exercise to burn off the extra 15 pounds I had gained! When you work from home, you aren’t as physically active, so you have to consciously take time in your day to get up and exercise and put a limit on the snacking. Avoid placing yourself near temptation.
4. Claim a spot no one else wants.
When I realized my first office wouldn’t work, I had to reexamine the one space in my house I swore I would never use – the basement. It needed a little TLC. It was poorly laid out, the rugs were gross and no one used it much because it was cold. It did have a gas fireplace, but it wasn’t working. It was the perfect space to transform. Randall helped me redesign the space into zones for family, storage and work. Now I love it.
We fixed the fireplace and the space is now warm and cozy. The kids know that they can play in their zone, but my office zone is off limits. Also, when the basement door is closed the kids know mom is in serious business lady mode and only available in an emergency. Side note – you may have to define “emergency” for your little ones. “Can I have a snack?” Not an emergency. “Hunter broke his finger?” Okay that one qualifies.
5. Pick a view that works for you.
When planning my second office space, I initially thought I wanted my chair to face into the room, but when I sat in a chair and looked at the view, I realized that the TV and every toy in the space only served as potential visual and mental distractions. I turned my chair around. The new view was a giant blank wall (easy to decorate – see my post on using love letters) and a window that I had completely forgotten was even there. The window overlooks a big tree and flowers, but I can’t see the road at all. Also, surprisingly for a basement, this window gets tons of natural light all day long. It is perfect for me.
So, that’s it! I hope these tips are helpful when planning your office space!