6 Tips for Setting Up a Compact Home Office – Guest Post by James Adams

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Office space may be at a premium in your home. When this is the case, it is essential that you use every inch of space to its full potential. An organized office leads to more productivity and less stress. Finding ways to effectively use the space you do have is not as hard as some may think. Here are six tips for setting up a compact home office.

1. Identify the Space for Your Home Office:

This may be any area in your home from a closet to a stair landing. If you will be spending a great deal of time in this space, try to find an area with more space and a better view. Guest rooms or dining rooms shouldn’t be overlooked in this process. Remember that an armoire or other piece of furniture can be used to hide your equipment when not in use.

2. Determine What You Will Need:

Certain things are a must in a home office. This includes a computer, telephone, printer and fax machine. When choosing equipment for your office, look for items that will serve more than one purpose such as multi-function printer/scanner/fax. This will allow you to fit more items into your compact space. Remember that computers need to be kept at a cooler temperature. If this may be a problem in your area, a laptop is a viable alternative. Phone systems which double as answering machines are another item that should be placed at the top of your must-have list. Desks with built-in filing cabinets should also be considered.

3. Use Every Inch of Vertical Space:

All too often, this area is neglected. Install shelves on the walls wherever possible. The shelving unit can hold books, projects that are not being worked on at the moment, your multi-function machine and much more. Many storage solutions are available for other items too. Writing utensils may be stored in a basket on the wall and letter trays take up little space on the desk, but a number of them can be stacked to give you more room.

4. Store Irregularly Used Items:

If you find this is the case when working in your home office, consider storing these items in an alternate location until they are required. Make sure they can be easily accessed and, if you find you are using certain items on a regular basis, move them back into your home office. You can move other things out at that time. Needs change over time. Make sure you adjust to these changing needs and accommodate them.

5. Keep Essentials On Hand at All Times:

You may not be using them on a regular basis, but they still need to be where you can access them in a moment’s notice. When this is the case, look for furnishings that can be moved around. A great example of this is a filing cabinet on wheels. Files may need to be on hand so they can be pulled if a client calls. The rest of the time they may just sit. Consider purchasing a rolling file cabinet. This can go under your desk when you are not working and you can easily pull it out when a client calls or comes in.

6. Choose Each Piece of Furniture Carefully:

A large, cushy office chair may seem like the perfect seating arrangement until you bring it home. Once it is set up in your office, you will quickly notice how much room it requires. Look for chairs that will slide completely under your desk when not in use and desks with keyboard trays that slide out. This tray may double as a writing surface also.

When setting up your home office, there is one other thing that needs to be remembered although it will not affect your ability to work. Make sure your home office is decorated in a way that will make you want to spend time there. Look for appealing colors and textures and incorporate them throughout the area. A compact home office does not have to be boring. Best of all, if your office is in an enclosed space, you can go outside the norm. Use accessories and items that you would not want for your entire house, but love anyway. Now that your office is set up in a way that makes work easy, you may want to spend a great deal of time there.

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Published by James-Adams

This is a guest post from James Adams who is a writer covering the latest releases of consumables for HP printers.

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38 Comments

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  1. Hi James,
    I must say I am quite impressed by your thoughts. Especially when it comes to using vertical space which most of us neglect using it. This comes very handy when you are running short of space. The other point you discussed about using the right furniture too is good because most of the time people tend to use whatever furniture they have instead of dedicated furniture that organizes the office more efficiently and allows for more comfort increasing your efficiency and mood for work. Anyways thanks for this very useful post.

    1. Hi George,
      Thanks for letting us know that you liked James’ article about setting up a compact home office. I have a small space for my office and one of the best things I did was purchase a 2-drawer metal file cabinet. It was for sale in a scratch-and-dent-sale. Since I placed inside of a closet, I saved a lot of money. Not only is it functional, but by placing a set of inexpensive plastic drawers on top of it, I’ve taken advantage of that vertical space and I have quick access to a multitude of office supplies.

      Thanks for taking the time to join the conversation.

  2. Home offices has their own advantages and disadvantages. You need to build a proper work environment to make your workplace more work friendly. I f you are about to move to a new location and have to set up your office their then you must take help from professionals.

  3. There is just one thing that I dislike about having home office, particularly if you have little kids at home. There are instances that you will lose concentration on your work unless you have a great room that won’t be accessible by your kids

    1. That’s a good point Nicholle. It’s difficult to work while taking care of children. My children were adults by the time I started working from home. So, I don’t have any advice from personal experience. I do know that there are a lot of women with children who are doing quite well and many of them have forums and support groups where they exchange support and advice.

  4. Love the great practical ideas! I work from home but find myself spending more time at my kitchen table with laptop than in my work area. I’m wondering if I’d be inclined to work there if it was better organized like you suggested in the article above.

    I must admit, clutter is my problem and I might actually get more work done without the family distractions at the kitchen table.

    Thanks so much for a very helpful post.

    1. Hi Regina,
      I have a mental image of you working at your kitchen table. Personally, I think having a space that is set aside for work is very important. For one thing, it makes it clear that (when you’re in your office), you’re working. I find that’s helpful in setting boundaries for children (and significant others). It helps to set the tone that (other than a minor catastrophe that can’t wait) you shouldn’t be disturbed. 🙂

      I converted a small bedroom into my office and I use the closet to hide away a bookcase and a metal file cabinet (purchased at a scratch and dent sale). Closets are a great way to organize your office. Those inexpensive plastic stackable drawers do a good job of keeping supplies organized too.

  5. Hi Sofia,
    Pics would be a great addition to James’ article. I’m about to contact James and see if he’s interested in writing another guest post. Maybe the next time, he’ll include some photos for us.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  6. With more and more people working from home these days it really is essential to have a great home office.

    I think the equipment inside of it is also an important point to make. A computer is one thing that will be used frequently, people might want to consider using a laptop in a compact office for example (to save space).

  7. Some people can tell you that you have to have at the very least a year’s worth of operating costs, an individual home office, and many other items before you can begin a business from home but that’s not true for some business. For many firms these things may be necessary, but most people who would like to start a Home Business can do it with hardly any cash and a few other things.

    1. Olive, I agree with you that there are home businesses that you can start with very little money. I think this is especially true for people who are starting home based businesses in their spare time.

  8. I only have a table for a home office with my computer on it, a printer, books and drawers where I can place important and needed items. Since it’s only a small space, I make sure that it’s organized and neat all the time because I find it hard to think if there’s clutter everywhere. I also have a space where I can put my coffee cup when it’s an all-nighter for me.

  9. I like the article because I am moving to another house outside the city and I have a very nice room facing the sea which I need to renovate and make it my office! Your last paragraph about choosing the right furniture is very important.

  10. I think choosing L-shaped arrangement will great for providing a secondary surface if space is limited. A parallel arrangement can provide two full-sized working surfaces if they are placed opposite each other.

    1. Hi Jack,
      These are great suggestions. My office furniture consists of an L-shaped arrangement along with a credenza that provides much needed vertical space. I also, have a file cabinet and a bookcase tucked away in a closet. Even with a small space, it’s possible to have a completely functioning office. I certainly have more space than someone who works in a cubicle.

  11. I only have a table for a home office with my computer on it, a printer, books and drawers where I can place important and needed items. Since it’s only a small space, I make sure that it’s organized and neat all the time because I find it hard to think if there’s clutter everywhere. I also have a space where I can put my coffee cup when it’s an all-nighter for me.

    1. Hi Peggy,
      First, I apologize for taking 4 days to reply to your comment. It sounds like you have everything that you need to be productive right at your fingertips. (I got a kick out of your mentioning a place for your coffee cup. That’s essential to productivity! 🙂 )

      One of the most useful items that I have in my office is a metal file cabinet. I bought it years ago at a scratch and dent sale at an office supply store. (I think I paid $15 for it.) It’s in a closet where no one has to look at it and it continues to serve me well.

      Thanks for taking the time to join us here!

  12. Too much clutters in your office leads you into distraction because you cannot focus the main thing you probably want to do. Great tips Sheryll. Thanks!

  13. Hi James! You’re definitely right. Our home office should be decorated in such a way that it also looks like a ‘real office’ to help us build working momentum. Also, a clutter-free area is a great way to reduce stress as our surroundings affect our mood in one way or another.

    Thank you for sharing these helpful tips with us because it can really be a pain in the neck to fit office equipments into homes where there are limited space. 🙂

    1. Hi Audrey,
      I’m glad you liked James’ guest post. A lot of readers enjoyed this one. I still remember the days before all-in-one-printers and huge PC towers. At least now, we can buy devices with a smaller footprint. Back then, it was a real challenge.

  14. Hi there, James,
    your post is quite useful as it is trying to explain the neccessity of keeping tips neat, clean and well organized. If we create a mess out of our office, we will more easily get stressed and will have less space around. Not to mention that we will eventually loose track of where we put a particular paper…could it be on a shelf, in garbage, or it just fall behind the desk? These tips are important, as not following them can bring some serious frustration issues.

    1. Hi Kristan,
      I get stressed out too when my office is messy. Unfortunately for me, because I share my office space with my husband, I’m often confronted with a pile of “stuff” on the desktop. It’s too bad James didn’t include tips on organizing spouses. 🙂

  15. Hello James,
    Very good tips! I like the article because I am moving to another house outside the city and I have a very nice room facing the sea which I need to renovate and make it my office! Your last paragraph about choosing the right furniture is very important. The room needs to be ergonomic, with a small couch, some plants and full of natural sunlight! Not too many colors including more white, and the main monitor should be near a window so you can look outside in distance for your eyes.
    Thank you for sharing with us,
    John

  16. Your words “organized, productive and less stress” are magical to me… a person who gets drained from any kind of clutter. My husband thinks I need therapy… LOL!

    My mantra is “don’t put it down, put it away”. That way, everything goes where it should, and can be found with ease when it’s needed next.

    Great post and suggestions!

    1. “Don’t put it down, put it away” – I love that Keyuri. I’m pretty good about doing that except with anything paper. There’s always a stack of unopened mail, folders, magazines or something around in my office. My problem is when I get too organized and put things away. Then it’s “out of sight – out of mind” and that’s when I get myself into trouble. 🙂

  17. I have a really nice setup for my home office. But every time I clean up the paperwork, more seems to appear. Whoever said that computers would do away with paper was wrong! I agree that your home office needs to be comfortable and inviting. It should also be well lit. I have photos on the wall and desk. This is your home within your home where you will be spending most of your day (and many evenings) so it needs to work for you.

  18. Ron, I’m glad you enjoyed James’ post. He does bring up some great points. It is so much easier to concentrate when you’re not distracted by clutter or frantically looking for something that you need.

  19. Hi James,

    Great post, I never really thought about how having your home office be compact is important, but it really is! And it can be very hard to work and think professionally when your work papers and furniture, etc., are spilling over into the rest of your house and your personal papers and such are finding their way into your work space!

    I definitely try to keep my work things contained to my work area and vice versa, but I could certainly be more organized in the way I arrange my work space – which is why I think your tip on utilizing vertical space is a great one!

    Thanks! 🙂

    1. Good point Libby about keeping your personal papers separate from your work files. I like James’ tip on using vertical space too. Another thing that has worked well for me was buying a metal filing cabinet from a scratch and dent sale. I put it in the closet. No one sees the dent or the cabinet for that matter. It’s great to have all that additional organization while keeping it out of site. Of course, all my current files are hanging in a desk drawer but it’s great for storing the paperwork that you need to keep but not see.

  20. Hi James,
    I believe that having a clutter-free home office can really help you work without distraction. As a person who likes to jot down reminders, I have a notepad and pen here within reach at all times.
    It may sound weird, but I don’t like to sit on a comfy cushioned office chair while working, because if I get too comfy, I get sleepy. Anyways, that’s only me. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Johanna, I love your comment about your chair! I’m the same way as you are. If I’m uncomfortable from sitting too long, that’s a sure sign to me that I need to get up an move for a while. I’m curious if you use post-it notes. Sometimes, my desk is littered with them.