My lovely staffer Angela recently bought her very first home! She’s got great style, so I asked her to give us a peek into setting up her cute home office in her new house. She makes setting up a home office very do-able. Here’s Angela’s story.
Being a first-time homebuyer is challenging under regular circumstances, and during a global COVID-19 pandemic it’s even more stressful. It’s been a whirlwind, but we bought a house this spring and moved mid-summer. Since I am now working at home instead of at HeartWork Organizing’s office, setting up a home office went from an option to a requirement on day one.
Setting up your home office after a move is much more fun than the actual buying or renting process…and easy, too, if you keep these four key points in mind.
Choose your home office location wisely.
“Where do I start?” Your very first decision is location, location, location. Where do you want your office to be?
Think about windows and lighting; this will affect not only how you work, but how long you work each day. Ideally, windows should be facing you, not behind you.
Don’t have any windows? Face your desk towards the door. I always felt more comfortable with the door in plain sight.
Where are the outlets? You’ll need these close by to plug in your computer, chargers, paper shredder, and much more.
Stay away from water. Just in case your washer goes haywire or the main bathroom above your desk springs a leak, you don’t want flooding to ruin your electronics and documents.
If you get distracted easily, it’s easy to feel sabotaged because everything seems like it needs doing RIGHT NOW. You move in and want everything to match or want to change this or that right away. I am all too familiar with this mindset as well. My husband is THAT person. Not only are we juggling a baby who is starting to crawl (the easy days are over!), working from home, and unpacking, but he is in the middle of major renovations to our new home, so I make my kid’s lunch around Home Depot supplies on the kitchen table and counter. You’ve got distractions in your home, too, so follow the next few steps when dealing with a move.
Unpack what you need in your home office immediately.
Looking at stacked boxes can be overwhelming, but don’t wait. Ask yourself, “What items do I need to work from home efficiently?” and set these up first. I need my desk, printer, documents, and stationery. I picked up a few packs of hard floor furniture sliders from Amazon (affiliate link) to protect the finish on my timeless oak floors and make it easier to scooch the furniture around.
Can you tell I love plants? More on that later.
My office is not magazine material just yet, but I was able to find all of my home office things easily because I packed them all together at the old apartment. Focus on unpacking your office must-haves only. If you come across non-office items set them aside for another time to avoid getting distracted. Unpack in 30-minute increments to stay focused. Don’t let anxiety or self-judgment get you down. You can do this!
Aim for a “good enough” home office to start.
In a matter of a few hours after closing on our new home, my office was functional. It isn’t truly finished, but it allows me to do my job comfortably. A “good enough” home office is better than stacked boxes! Don’t feel guilty that you don’t have a matching letter opener and stapler or the perfect chair. I’m using things that I had already, and over time I’ll upgrade things to make it more personal and feel like me.
Did you notice how I don’t have all my furniture hugging the walls? Create your own office layout. Make it inviting to you. After all, you are paying for every square foot. Why not use all of it?
This setup works for me because:
I can walk in and instantly get to my desk. You’d be surprised how many offices are set up with the desk as a barrier to get into the room. My husband or I can quickly grab something from the printer without going through an obstacle course.
Everything is within reach from my chair, so I don’t risk distraction to get supplies from other rooms.
You can never have too much lighting in an office. The windows are lovely, of course, for both the natural light and the view. I also have two mobile lamps and my ceiling light because I do work at night, and you need layers of light to see well at night. Also, distributed light makes everything on Zoom calls look better.
My file cabinet drawers have enough space to open freely. Filing is hard enough without fighting with drawers.
I used hooks that were already in the walls to quickly hang my plants, corkboard, and checklist. I might move them later, but for now, they let me get some things out of the way and up on the walls.
I LOVE plants. My plants are my second priority after my daughter, so it was important to make them happy in their new home. These natural air-purifiers make me happy by adding a warm and relaxing touch to the room.
Maybe it’s a bad thing that my office is so cozy. It’s become my happy place. I don’t want to leave! (Can you same the same for your home office?)
Organize first, shop for finishing touches after the move.
Trust me, wait until after you set up the essential home office items to choose things like curtains and desktop decor. You may have what you need in that unpacked box in another room and won’t have to go on a shopping spree after all. Who wants to spend even more money after just buying a house? Repurpose what you already own, and save your pennies for bigger projects or swaps and upgrades for things already in your office.
Don’t let the upheaval and stress of moving make you settle for an unorganized, messy desk, dining table, or kitchen counter. Set up a home office wherever you have room, in the basement, in a guest room, or in the dining room. Claim some home office space as your own, even if it’s temporary right after your move.
For more tips on making just about any space work as a home office, check out Darla DeMorrow’s book, The Upbeat, Organized Home Office.