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Have you recently been thrown into working from home and you’re not quite set up for it?
You’re not the only one! Millions of people around the world are now working from home for the first time thanks to the pandemic. While it’s not ideal, it could also help you springboard your work-at-home career!
Even though being able to work from home is the dream for many people, if you don’t take the time to set up a productive work environment, it can be more like a nightmare.
The good news is that you don’t have to spend a fortune to create a home office, and it doesn’t need to be Pinterest-worthy.
Follow these tips to create a home office on a budget so you can stay productive and focused on your work.
Designate a Space
The perfect home office will be a separate room in your home that has a door so you can completely focus on your work during the day and separate your work and home life.
Unfortunately, not everyone has the luxury of having a spare room in their home that they can designate as a home office.
If that’s the case, you will need to designate a small area of another room as your workspace.
You need to choose a space that will be quiet enough for you to focus on your work. Your bedroom might be a good space to choose because it won’t get as much passing traffic as your kitchen or living room.
If you live with family members or roommates, finding a quiet space might present a challenge — especially now that we’re all stuck at home.
You may need to speak to your family or roommates and ensure they understand that when you’re in your designated workspace, they shouldn’t disturb you unless it’s important.
Another cue you can use to discourage them from interrupting you is when your headphones are on, it means do not disturb!
Or you could take it one step further and hang a Do Not Disturb sign on your door! Too far? Okay, each to their own. 😉
Now, if you’ve got kids at home, you might want to be explicit about what important means. A cut on their knee is important; not being able to find the video game controller is NOT important! 😉
One hugely important factor when choosing the location of your home office is the availability of plugs. Everything we do nowadays is reliant on technology, so make sure you have adequate plugs and a good internet connection in your chosen spot.
Use What You Already Have
The first step to creating a budget home office is to use what you already have available to you in your home.
Yes, we’d all love a beautiful home office that looks like it came from an IKEA showroom, but your financial situation may not allow for that.
Instead, think about what items you already have in your home that you can repurpose. There’s a good chance you already have a spare desk, chair, lamp, and even decorative items you can use to pull your office together and save money.
If you don’t have anything that will work, you might be able to pick up something reasonably priced on Amazon or IKEA. I would normally advise you to check flea markets, thrift stores, the dollar store, and Facebook Marketplace to pick up a bargain, but those aren’t really options right now.
Here are some things you’ll likely need:
You absolutely DO NOT want to work from your couch or bed! It sounds like it would be so comfy, but if you do it for long periods of time, you’ll probably end up with back pain.
It’s better to work from a proper desk, if possible, so that you can position your laptop or computer at the correct height. It’ll also give you the space to spread out your work tools.
Do you already have a desk in your home that you’re not using or one you could repurpose as your work desk?
Working from the kitchen table isn’t ideal as it will probably be harder to concentrate on work if you live with other people. It can also make it hard to switch off from work if your desk is in the middle of your living space. If you don’t have the space to work elsewhere though, your kitchen table will do fine!
Even a fold-out table will do in a pinch. When this pandemic passes — and you decide you want to work from home for yourself full-time — you’ll want to upgrade your home office and make sure it’s properly fit for purpose.
If you have the funds to purchase a new desk, consider how you like to work. Do you hate sitting all day? Maybe a standing desk would suit you better.
If you are going to spend money on any office furniture for your new home office space, I would advise that you invest in an ergonomic desk chair.
Working from a proper desk chair will pay for itself many times over when you think about the chiropractor bills you’ll avoid!
Don’t forget about lighting when you’re setting up your home office. Good lighting is essential to your productivity and can help you avoid getting headaches and eye strain.
Natural lighting is preferable, so position your desk near a window if possible, but avoid too much direct sunlight on your screen as it will make it harder to see.
Use a desk lamp or task lamp to illuminate what you’re working on and improve your focus.
If you usually work in an office environment, you’re probably used to having a pretty sweet setup. At work, you probably have a computer with a large screen and maybe even an additional monitor. You probably have an external keyboard and a mouse. Not to mention the ergonomic chair.
At home, you’re probably not going to be as well set up, so you may have to make do with what you have.
If you’re working from home remotely for your employer, they may allow you to bring your computer home with you. If possible, check if it’s possible to borrow an additional monitor, external keyboard, and mouse as well.
Getting your work tools from your current employer will help bring down the cost of setting up your home office.
If that’s not possible, one thing you can do to make your workspace more ergonomic is to raise your laptop to eye level. A laptop stand is a great option for this, or you can raise it by propping it up on some books.
If you’re starting a business from home for the first time, you may need to invest a bit more money here.
One thing you’ll need for sure is a laptop, desktop computer, or a tablet. I talk about some things you’ll need to consider when choosing a computer as well as other tools you’ll need to work from home in this post.
Home Office Decor
It’s time to add some cute touches to make the space feel like your own. Yippee!
If you’ve had to squeeze an office space into one of your other rooms, using an area rug will help to separate and define the space.
Hanging some motivational quotes on the wall will add some color to the space and get you pumped up for working toward your goals.
Don’t forget to add some potted plants. Real plants will purify and remove toxins from the air. But if you don’t have a green thumb, artificial plants will still add some color to your decor.
If you’ve got kids, now’s the time to steal back some of the school supplies you purchased for them. I bet they’ve got lots of pencils, pens, and writing paper you can use in your office.
And last but not least, make sure you’ve got a paper or digital planner at hand to help you create an effective schedule so you never fall behind with your work.
I hope these tips will help you create a home office on a budget. In times like these, you’re not trying to win any interior design awards; you’re aiming for functionality over aesthetics. You can always upgrade and create a Pinterest-worthy home office when time and finances allow.
Want to make this work from home thing permanent? The Work Your Way 2020 online event is happening right now! Sign up to get access to 35+ interviews with people who are already killing it in the work-at-home world.