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21 Productive Home Office Dos and Don'ts

Don’t: Think Temporary

Choosing temporary, Ikea, or plastic furniture isn’t usually attractive. You want to stray away from temporary, if possible. Even if you know you won’t stay in your office long, you can get multi-purpose furniture.

Consider getting a table instead of a desk, which you can use elsewhere after going back to the office. Even if you aren’t using it for work, you can also use your “home office” for projects, so there’s no reason to get cheap items.  

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Do: Visualize Your Dream Office Space

Before you begin to update or redecorate your home office, visualize what you want your space to look like? Do you want it to feel modern, eclectic, minimalist, rustic, industrial, etc.? There are so many interior design styles to choose from when decorating.

You also must think about the purpose of your space? Will you use it only when you work from home? Or will it be a multi-purpose space. I know many people also use their home offices for projects or educational purposes. Once you decide the style and purpose of your home office, you can begin decorating.

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Don’t: Overlook Outlets

Back to being practical! No matter how great the office looks, it’s pointless if you have to string wires across the room. It’s even worse if you can’t plug in your computer and accessories. When you visualize your room, know where the outlets are.

In some cases, you may have to put items in different places around the room. Maybe consider a media stand where you keep your printer, fax, and scanner. Keep everything in one spot for easy access when you need it may be the best idea, however. 

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Do: Find the Perfect Rug

If you’re wanting to make your home office feel cozier, consider purchasing a rug. Once you decide what size will work best in your space, you can start looking at different patterns, prints, and textures.

A plush rug will completely transform your home office, making it feel warm and inviting. Bold prints and bright colors are very trendy right now. A bright or patterned rug may be just what you need to brighten up your office and keep you motivated.

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Don’t: Buy All New Office Supplies

Chances are, you already have everything you need to get the job done. If you already have a good printer, you don’t need to purchase a new one. That money could be spent elsewhere, like painting the wall (or affixing a decal, if you live in an apartment).

Gather together everything you have that works, and then make a list of items you need to purchase. Your biggest goals will be cultivating a productive space, but you don’t want to overspend.

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Do: Choose the Right Desk and Chair

I think everyone can agree that the most important parts of a home office are the desk and chair. This is where you’ll spend all of your time. And if you’re going to be sitting at a desk all day, you most definitely want to be comfortable when doing so.

First, find a desk that suits your needs. There are hundreds of different styles—writing desks, secretary desks, and executive desks are just a few. Then, you’ll want to purchase a chair. I recommend finding one that provides back support. One of the most common complaints of desk jobs is back pain. Once you have both of these items, you can start shopping for accessories.

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Don’t: Forget Vertical Square Footage

I love organizing, and one of the biggest mistakes people make is ignoring vertical storage. Your walls have so much space! Reference books, a corkboard for meetings, or shelves to store everything you need within reach.

My walls are great for art and books that help me throughout my work. You can do the same by creating a gallery wall. Just don’t leave those walls blank.

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Do: Decorate With Plants and Greenery

You may not realize it, but plants and greenery have a huge impact on people. So, if you’re thinking about adding a plant (or two or three…) to your home office, I say do it! You won’t regret it.

Indoor plants have many benefits. Not only will they look pretty in your space, but they’ll benefit you as well. Studies show that adding plants and greenery to your workspace can create better moods, job satisfaction, and healthier relationships.

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Don’t: Leave Loose Papers Around

Loose papers mean disorganization. Most people don’t work well when things are a mess. In fact, some people can get depressed if they work and live in a messy household.

Designate a place for loose papers. You can mount trays on your wall (using that vertical square footage) or just get nice drawers for everything. Either way, keep them in their place.  

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Do: Utilize Natural Light

One aspect of home decorating that most people neglect is natural light. It’s literally free so utilize your windows and incorporate them into your space. Many people work in buildings with very few windows, so when you’re home, you should take advantage of your natural light.

When arranging your furniture in your home office, try to place your desk in front of or near a window. The natural light will flood in and allow your space to feel bright and airy. When the sun is out, you can enjoy the warmth, and when it’s rainy and gloomy, you can shut your curtains and turn on a lamp!

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Don’t: Sacrifice Form for Function

This is a particularly tough one for us designers. Something may look beautiful, but it’s no good if it isn’t comfortable or doesn’t perform correctly. If your chair is uncomfortable, you won’t be able to focus on your work.

Make sure to focus on the item’s function. It will prevent spending more money in the future. Before each purchase (especially big ones), consider what you’ll use it for.

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Do: Get Organized

Getting organized is easy—staying organized isn’t. That’s why it’s so important to make sure your home office is equipped with everything you need to keep your space tidy. Nothing cramps your style more than clutter.

First, decide whether you can handle storing your clutter in plain sight. Because I’m super type A, I prefer to keep my books, papers, and other home office supplies in drawers and closed baskets. If that doesn’t bother you as much as it does me, try desk organizers. These sit out on your desk and are super convenient.

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Don’t: Disregard Color

Color is super important! I’m not saying you have to have a house that looks like an HGTV ad, but don’t put a bunch of dreary colors in your office. A sage green could be great for those looking for something natural. 

Black may be your go-to (especially for computer accessories), but add color elsewhere using pillows, throws, or artwork. In general, orange makes people feel joyful, red makes us feel ambitious, yellow equates to optimism, and the list can go on and on. 

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Do: Get Artsy

When trying to create a home office, it’s easy to feel finished once you have the basic necessities. Although decorations aren’t necessary, they do make your space feel more individualized. Art is one of the most popular home decorations. If your home office needs a little something extra, start shopping for something artistic!

If you can, try supporting a local artist. There’s immense talent in all communities and these artists will be so appreciative of your business. And how cool will it be to tell your friends that the art hanging on your wall was created by someone in your own town or city!

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Don’t: Forget to Invest in Tech

This is one I personally encountered. I didn’t have the right tech! I purchased new ethernet cables online because they were sold out at my local stores. I also needed a new modem. Working from home means the occasional issue turns into a major problem.

Make a checklist of anything you may need by thinking about whatever you use in your office day-to-day. Also, think about docks for your laptop, monitors, or additional USB hubs. What do you need to get your job done?

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Do: Incorporate Color and Texture

While all these tips and ideas are useful, this tip is especially useful to those who prefer modern interior design. Modern interior design is beautiful, but it usually is based around neutral hues and sleek surfaces.

To make your space feel more welcoming, add a few pops of color and texture. Your rug, lamp, chair, or accessories can include dashes of both to keep your space feeling homey. You can also add a throw pillow or blanket to your desk chair to incorporate color and texture.

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Don’t: Hide Away

Even though you’re spending all this time designing the perfect office, you can move around! Forcing yourself to stay in one room doesn’t help productivity if you feel antsy. Get up and move around. For some, it could be as easy as working outside.

Others may need to get up and get a short chore done. Consider doing a 15-minute cleanup. When you return to your work, you’ll be ready to continue what you were working on before.  

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Do: Be Practical

When creating a home office, you must be practical. Yes, decorating is fun and will definitely make your space more enjoyable, but don’t overdo it. If you do, you may find that you aren’t able to focus properly or work diligently in your own home.

Make sure you always leave room on your desk for your computer, laptop, keyboard, books, paperwork, and whatever else you may need on top of your desk at all times. Also make sure you allow yourself to have a decent amount of workspace. You don’t want to feel overcrowded when completing necessary tasks.

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Don’t: Leave Wires Hanging Around

First of all, leaving wires around could be dangerous. One little trip and your office could turn into a disaster. Second, it doesn’t look great! There are cable concealers you can purchase to hide those little suckers away.

You can get them in a variety of colors or paint them to match your wall. It’ll disappear into the background and look as clean as you imagined.

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Do: Embrace Your Personality

You’ll spend a lot of time in your office, so you don’t want to stifle your personality. By adding personal touches, you’ll want to spend more time and feel more comfortable in your office. After all, chances are, you decorated your desk at work.

If you love comics, throw some pictures of comic book covers. If you need a vision board to get stuff done and refer back to when you get overworked and stressed, go for it! Nothing is off-limits because this is your space.

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Don’t: Choose a Busy Location

This one depends on the person. We get it if you have to watch your kids when you’re working, but in general, you want to choose a place that’s away from distractions. This goes double if you’re the type of person that’s easily distracted.

Unless you need to be in the center of everything, pick a place away from the main part of the house. If you can’t do that and need a quiet area, think about soundproofing. Soundproof panels are available to buy to block noise through the walls.  

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