You’ve finally landed your dream work-from-home job or decided to fly solo and start your own company.
Perhaps you already have your business all planned out and you’re ready to jump right in.
But have you considered your home office space?
A well-thought-out home office is necessary to ensure comfort and happiness, but it’s even more important when you only have a small space for your headquarters.
There are lots of things that can go wrong when you’re setting it up, so read up on five common missteps to make sure you turn your tiny home office into a place where you enjoy spending your time.
1. Failing to Tune Out Distractions
The blaring television set, your dog barking, someone’s cell phone ringing—distractions are the number one productivity killer.
When your work is constantly interrupted by the chaos of the outside world, it becomes impossible to concentrate.
Time is money, and you don’t want to waste your time trying to find your focus.
For your office, try to choose space that’s away from the main flow of foot traffic through the house.
Avoid windows that face busy streets or that neighbor who always mows their yard at odd hours of the day.
In a two-story home, working from the second floor ensures you won’t hear constant footsteps overhead.
If you already have a set space that can’t be changed, you’re not out of options for creating more privacy in your office.
Curtains or opaque window liners can let in light while blocking distracting sights.
A thick wooden door and acoustic wall tiles can dampen outside noises so you can make calls in peace.
If other noises still filter through and distract you, consider noise-canceling headphones, or even a white noise machine.
2. Buying Single Purpose Furniture
In a tight office space, every square inch matters so don’t waste it on single-purpose furniture.
Take advantage of office furniture with multiple uses.
- A desk with shelves or drawers adds extra storage.
- A metal rolling cart can be used in countless ways and rolls out of sight when no longer needed.
- A TV tray is an inexpensive way to add an extra work surface that tucks away neatly when you’re finished with it.
Another way to save space is with collapsible or folding furniture.
A table that folds down from the wall can provide extra workspace and fold out of the way when you’re done.
Folding storage boxes can contain all your papers until a project is finished, then fold flat until you’re ready to use them again.
Each time you buy something new for your office, ask yourself how much room it will take up and where you’ll store it when not in use.
3. Sacrificing Comfort When Home Office Is In A Small Space
While a small chair or tiny desk might save space, it may sabotage your comfort and even be detrimental to your health.
Test out furniture in the store first to find a chair that is comfortable and lets you sit up straight.
Choose a desk that you find aesthetically pleasing and that allows enough room for everything you need. Don’t forget to leave room for notebooks and papers as well as a keyboard and mouse if you use a computer.
Your home office space may be small, but you can still make it professional and productive.
Physical comfort isn’t your only consideration. You want a space that feels uplifting and works wonders on your motivation.
Perhaps that comes from the artwork above your desk or a yoga mat in the corner to use when you need a break.
Setting up a small table with a coffee station at the door or in an unused corner is another way to create a relaxing atmosphere and also motivate yourself to go straight to your office first thing in the morning! Well, after getting coffee first.
4. Ignoring Vertical and Corner Spaces
Adequate storage is always a challenge, especially in a small office. Overcome this obstacle by taking advantage of your most valuable resource: vertical space.
Tall shelves will help you maximize how much you can store. Make sure to put your most used items on the lower shelves where you can easily reach them.
Hooks and even hanging baskets can also give you additional storage without reducing precious floor space.
Corners and other nooks and crannies also provide extra storage in what might otherwise be just another unused area. Special shelves and even desks are designed specifically to fit into the angled corners of a room.
For slanted ceilings or other tight spaces, consider shorter tables or cabinets. These areas make good out-of-the-way places for setting up your printer, router, and modem, or a two-drawer filing cabinet.
If you can’t find storage solutions that work for your space, consider hiring a specialist to custom design pieces that fit exactly where you need them.
It may cost more, but it provides the most efficient use of the space you have.
5. Choosing an Inadequate Room Layout
In a small office, you have fewer layout options, so it’s important to sketch out and measure your ideas before buying new furniture.
Keep like items together, such as a printer close to the computer or a bookshelf close to a cozy chair.
Make sure you have pathways to move across the room easily without zigzagging around furniture.
Use modern office layout ideas for inspiration on how you can create the perfect home office.
Corporate offices spend a lot of time and research on creating the perfect office space for all of their layouts—from open spaces to private areas for focus—and you can often find useful ideas by considering their layout techniques.
However you set up your office, it’s important to separate your work and leisure time. If family members are home while you’re working, enforce “no interruptions” time periods during work hours.
When you’re done for the day, avoid using your office for non-work related activities if at all possible.
Though it may be small, your home office can be a place of productivity and inspiration.
By avoiding common pitfalls when setting up your space, you can create an office that inspires you to work hard every day.
Heather Redding is a part-time assistant manager, solopreneur and writer based in Aurora, Illinois. She is also an avid reader and a tech enthusiast. When Heather is not working or writing, she enjoys her Kindle library and a hot coffee. Reach out to her on Twitter.