Blue modern home office interior design with dark brown furniture.

Blue modern home office interior design with dark brown furniture.

You’ve done it! Maybe you’ve got a job that allows you to telecommute, or possibly you’ve gone into business for yourself. Now you can ditch the commute, show up to work in your pajama pants, and set up your home office the way you’ve always wanted it.
The thing to remember is that while it can be awesome to work from home, you want to avoid the pitfalls. You want to make sure your home office area is both appealing and encourages to get your job done efficiently so you can spend more time with your family and friends.

Avoid Over Designing
When you get to make all the decision about your furniture and what your workspace looks like, it might be tempting to grab a bunch of those interesting or cool items you’ve seen on websites like Pinterest or Thinkgeek and stock up. If your budget allows it, you could have trinkets, posters, gadgets, and fancy desks, chairs, and cubby holes galore.

But how useful are all these things? There’s a reason professional offices usually err on the side of simplicity. You want to cut down on the number of distractions while you’re working. Sure, personal touches and aesthetic appeal are useful, but think carefully about what really needs to be in your office and what can go in a rec room or living room instead. By all means, have all the family photos, books, your music collection, or whatever else helps you feel comfortable, but also think about what will help you get your job done.

Also, watch out for cute and quirky office items that don’t actually do the job. It doesn’t matter if that old rollaway desk with the postal cubbies is in your budget, will your computer and monitor fit on it? That straight-backed wooden chair might look great in the display photo, but is it something you want to sit on for hours at a time?

Pay Attention to Lighting
Natural light and a good view are highly valued in normal workplaces, which is why so many people want the window office. At home, you can have that any time you want, so make sure your desk will give you the view outside. Keep an eye on the glare, and otherwise, place your chair near the sunlight.

That doesn’t mean you should skimp on the lamps. You don’t need dreary fluorescent lighting, but make sure your office is well-lit even if it’s cloudy outside or the sun has gone down (or hasn’t come up yet). You don’t need the temptation of a half-lit room to lure you to take a nap rather than finishing your work.

Have Functional Storage
The filing cabinet has to be one of the all-time least attractive pieces of office furniture. In your home, you don’t need a row of dull gray metal cabinets, but you do need to consider how you’re going to store important paperwork. You know you’re not going to have a paperless office now matter how much you try. After all, there will be forms and printouts and important mail you need to hold onto. Think about how you’re going to do that. Maybe you could get bookshelves that hold smaller art boxes, each for a different kind of paper. You could set up wall shelves with binders or boxes, or modular organizers that can be stacked in interesting designs.

Keep Regular Hours and a Professional Attitude
This one can be the hardest tip of them all. Who’s to know if you decide to sleep in and get started at 9:30 instead of 8:30 a.m. today? If you want to work in a bathrobe and slippers, there’s no boss to tell you to get dressed. The problem is, if you’re not careful, there’s a risk that casual approach will show up in your work.

Set specific hours for yourself and hold to them. Make sure your family knows when you’re working and ask them to not bother you in the office unless it’s important. While you don’t need to dress in business casual, it’s a good idea to force yourself to put on jeans and a t-shirt before you start working. Give yourself plenty of cues that the time in your home office is time to work. What you’ll probably find is that you’ll be more productive and motivated to finish by your scheduled “end of business day,” even if you schedule the end of your day at 3 p.m. so you can stroll outside to spend time in your yard or to go hang out with your family.