Create a Home Office Out of Thin Air

Since moving our family of four from two bedrooms to five, it’s been great having the extra space to stretch out in. But I never thought we’d have this much trouble filling it all. We turned one of our extra bedrooms into an awesome guest room, yet we were lost on what to do with the other. I was already planning the mancave of all mancaves, but my wife wanted something more practical—so we settled on a home office. Here’s how I transformed our plain space into a professional sanctuary:

Set it apart

A home office is more than just a bedroom with a desk shoved in the corner. To help you stay on task while hard at work, make the room feel separate from the rest of your house. If you use a landline for business calls, consider getting a separate phone line for your office. And save typical distractions, like spare TVs, for your basement or rec room. (That is, unless the Bears are playing.)

Keep it bright

Bad lighting can strain your eyes, make you tired and limit your productivity. Construct your office in a room that gets good natural light, or invest in some quality lamps. If all else fails, try painting the room a bright color to help you stay alert and focused. Bright lights have definitely helped me cut back on my desk naps.

Divide it up

Staying organized and preventing your office from turning into a catch-all room is a top priority, so try splitting it into distinct parts. Mine has three – the workstation, recharging zone and reference area. My workstation contains my desk, computer, phone and the ridiculously awesome ergonomic chair my wife and I splurged on. Across the room, I have a La-Z-Boy that I use to get away from the computer and relax for a minute or two. And along the far wall, we installed shelves that hold all of my books, reference materials and work files.

Establish some office rules

If you work from your home office full time, setting hours for your workday – say, from 9 to 5 – can keep you from hitting the couch for an afternoon snooze or taking a 3-hour lunch. You may also want to create some rules for your family’s use of the office. A friend of mine uses this strategy to help him stay in the zone: When he leaves the office door open, his wife and kids are welcome to interrupt, but a closed door means he’s on a client call or doing something else that shouldn’t be interrupted unless there’s an emergency.

Having a dedicated space to get work done has been great. And it especially comes in handy when I need a few minutes of me time: I can sneak away, shut the door and check the latest score on my smartphone in peace – La-Z-Boy included. In addition to creating a quiet, efficient workspace, it’s extremely important to make sure all of the stuff to cram into your home office is insured.