Posts Tagged ‘home office’


Every job comes with its own set of problems. Whether you work at the kitchen table, in a cardboard cubicle, on a building site, or in a gorgeous, glass office, none of them are worry free; the grass always seems greener, when really it is just a different variety of grass (with its own set of weeds). But, working from home is still seen by many as the holy grail – the luxury of being able to type in your underwear, and the giddy thought of quietly trying to eat potato chips during an important teleconference.

When I began to work from home, the concept of saying I was “working” sounded kind of crazy (even to me). My daughter would see me, in my fun, little office, writing lists and updating my business Facebook page, and I know it didn’t make a whole lot of sense. It barely made sense to me, so we had to slowly convince ourselves that just because I wasn’t commuting, wearing a suit and waving around stock market tips scribbled on bits of paper (or whatever they do) it was still something that contributed to me earning a living.
It took me a while (a long while) but eventually I managed to train myself to work fairly effectively from home. It will never be a perfect system, but I have still managed to find several ways that make my work at home, office appropriate…

  • Have a designated office space where you just work. I know it goes without saying, but often, a laptop can mysteriously travel to the comfiest place, and you will find yourself curled up on the sofa. Before you know it, you find yourself simultaneously googling the latest Fall fashions and watching the Weather channel as if your life depended on it (which is ironic, considering you don’t have to step outside unless you really want to).
  • Don’t wear pajamas, work-out clothes or gardening clothes (me). This tells you (and everyone around you) that you are ready to do something else at a moments notice (take a nap, go to the gym, eat chocolate, or mow the lawn… ) and, you are not taking it that seriously.
  • Adjust your time to suit you. I admit, this is one of the perks of working from home. I am much more focused in the morning, so I can begin at 7:30am and do the most important things then. Late afternoon is kept for tasks that require less brain power, and the evening for nothing more than Pinterest and Facebook.
  • Surround yourself with items that support what you do for a living. Not what reminds you of home; what you see should motivate you to work, not distract you. If you work for a financial corporation, then you probably want to keep it simple and business orientated – framed certificates, the latest projection statistics, and a piece of classic art, is probably all you need. Likewise, if your job is more creative, vision boards, success stories and color may inspire you.
  • Indulge yourself by being organized and comfortable. Filing cabinets, shelves, noticeboards, a comfortable chair, and a desk or table, all contribute to a more productive work environment. If the space doesn’t work for you, you’re not going to use it.
  • Have a routine. Commit to yourself that at a certain time you will always go to work. Ignore the laundry, walking the dog, or whatever else that you think should be done, because there is always going to be something to do around the house, and it is so easy to get distracted for an hour or two (or three).
  • Tell everyone that you are working from home. And mean it. Write dates and times on your calendar, so that you and your friends and family know it is important.
  • Take lunch and coffee breaks. Walk away from your office, have something to eat, and take a walk outside. Again, it might be a luxury that not everyone has, but when you are home alone it is also easier to park your bottom at the computer for four or five hours at a time without moving more than your fingers and eyeballs.
  • Schedule time off and mental health days. Stop work at a certain time, take a day or afternoon off now and again, and be aware when it is leaching into your family life. We don’t get Sick days, Personal Leave, Weekends Off, or Public Holidays, so it is okay to turn off the computer, ignore the emails, and give yourself a break when you need it.
  • Be grateful, enjoy your time at home, and (note to self) stop apologizing.

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/
Photograph from Dive Into Fashion

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It’s funny, home offices are becoming more popular, but so are portable devices; people want a separate office space, but then they sit on the sofa to check their email and pay bills. Which to me, is a little like wanting a Kindle, then buying a cover on it that looks like a book. See, I’ve managed to confuse both of us in a single paragraph.

We want things to make our life easier (and less cluttered) but our mind and body still craves tasks that require some form of effort, and make us feel connected. It’s a weird dilemma; like the difference between peeling an orange, and grabbing a glass of juice – peeling and eating an orange boosts our cognitive processes a hundred times more than if we just open the carton and pour out the juice, so we have to decide whether we want to peel the orange, take off the pith and divide up the segments, or should we just open the fridge and grab a glass? They can’t compare really, and I forget why this reminded me of home offices, but I would always rather peel an orange than drink one.

Anyway, like many things, a home office needs to move forward in life, and the need for huge, sagging shelves and walls of metal filing cabinets has become unnecessary for most of us. Paper is used less, and while our workload hasn’t been reduced, we use our spaces differently, and we want everything to work harder and more efficiently for us. And, we want it to look good.

This home office is all sorts of dreamy, and it still has everything you need to get some work done. The glass sawhorse table doesn’t spoil the view, and it blends perfectly with the over-sized baskets and the modern lines of the simple, white chair.

If you need a bit more storage, you still don’t have to scrimp on style; this inexpensive bookcase holds far more than you would imagine (and keeps you organized) while the comfy chair reminds you that you’re not sitting in a cubicle.

This is perfect for someone who has to squeeze an office space into their main living area. Find a classic desk, a simple chair, and decorate it to your heart’s content. Drawers hide all of your bits and pieces, and the shelves keep your books and files where you need them. A few minutes clean up at the end of the day, and it looks just like a picture.

This is a serious work space, but it has so much fun built into it. Spray painting the file cabinets costs next to nothing (which reminds me, I need to do my own. Note to self: It would have been much easier to paint them before I had filled them all up with papers) the notice boards give the homeowner endless room for notes, and the Mason jars keep small clutter under control.

I just had to include this one, because it made me smile, and one of the luxuries of working from home is that it is yours, and you are free to add as much (or as little) of your personality as time and space will allow …..

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/
(p.s. click on the photographs for original sources).

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This week I reorganized two home offices; a client’s, and my own. He was a businessman who had recently stopped commuting, and I was catapulted into the 21st century with the gift of a new computer and monitor (so fast that it makes me feel like Laura Ingalls being asked to choose what type of coffee she wants at Starbucks. Some days I feel like it is typing the words before I have even thought of what I wanted to say).

Although we are in this world of portable media, some of us still need a place to sit and work in order to stay focused. I am one of those people, and, apparently, so was my client; I can’t travel from sofa to sunroom with a laptop, and actually get any work done. It took me years to understand the concept (discipline?) of working from home, and I know it could very easily be undone if I wandered around the house in my fuzzy pajamas, looking for the sunniest, softest, most comfortable place to type.

My client felt the same way; he wanted his job to stay in once place, and not share office time with his family unless it was absolutely necessary. But, he felt disorganized, and although his office had plenty of space, he felt the room was working against him instead of for him. So, this is what I discovered during this last week ….

  • If you have the luxury of working from home, then for goodness sake enjoy it, and make your space as efficient and practical as you can.
  • Your chair and desk should be comfortable, and your back, neck and head should not ache at the end of the day. This sounds obvious, but if something hurts, you need to figure out why. If you have a bad back, then a new, ergonomic chair may be better than the traditional squishy one, elevate your feet on a stool if you need to, and adjust the size and glare of the text on your monitor if it makes you squint all day.
  • Have what you need all the time within arms reach, and be flexible until it feels right. Jot down notes about what does and doesn’t work for you. (eg. If you have to get up every time you use the printer, and you use it often, then maybe it should be nearer).
  • Store away as much as possible, and consider the less obvious place for things; can you put your scanner and filing cabinet in the closet, or stack letterhead paper in a drawer?
  • Remove things you don’t need, or use very rarely, and keep personal items to a minimum. I know this seems contradictory to what I usually say, but if it is a dedicated office space, then it isn’t a place for excessive daydreaming. The idea is to keep it separate from your personal life.
  • Do have motivating things in your office. Whatever your field of work, surround yourself with things or words that inspire you about your career, or remind you of your goals.

One of my own changes this week was to put my monitor on two books, because the new one that was gifted to me (thank you, you know who you are) was too low for my old desk. The irony of the solution wasn’t lost on me; the books are from 1905, gorgeous, heavy and gold-bound, but although I thumb through them every now and again, they usually sit with my favorite dishes in a glass cabinet.
Moved to my office for a practical reason, I now get to look at these beautiful pieces of art every single day.

So, whether you are catapulted into a new world, or doing the happy dance because you don’t have to commute any more, make the most of it (and don’t wear fuzzy pajamas while you type – well, maybe just now and again……..)

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/

(p.s. Photograph is my own).

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Sometimes, I write a blog, and never publish it. I read it, and it sounds boring, or too personal, or too big, or too much like a decorating lesson. That’s what happened this week; I wrote two, and I liked them, but they just didn’t feel right. It was a Goldilocks moment.

I’m not silly, I knew why nothing was working; it was because my office was a diabolical mess. Motivated by the conference that I attended a couple of weeks ago, I had decided to reorganize. What began as a simple clean out, turned into this avalanche of ideas scribbled on bits of paper (lots of them, that I didn’t even know I had) countless pages torn from magazines, files that no longer made sense, two old keyboards, a small television that I had forgotten about in the closet (don’t ask – the box isn’t even opened) and a pile of cardboard airplanes from when my daughter was in pre-school.

Impatient to get going, I did the classic mistake of trying to do it all at once. And, I got distracted. Opening a drawer revealed a pile of decorating goodies that I didn’t even know I had, and more notebooks than I could count (well, there were nine actually). They are very pretty, but I tend to use the same, spiral-bound 79 cent notebook for most things; I like it’s size, the space of the lines, and the ease of turning over the pages. In this case, function trumps beauty, and I know the pretty notebooks would be happier living somewhere else.

It’s been a few days since I started, and I am finally seeing my serene, creative office space again. I realize it is a little bit like the cobbler’s children having no shoes (do children even know what cobbler’s are anymore?); I am great at organizing (really) and know what I should be doing, but when life gets busy, my office is usually the first place to suffer. I tell myself I can work around it, but I really can’t; I juggle for space on my desk, and my thoughts become as scattered as coffee cups.

This happens to us all at some time or another; it feels okay for a while, then you turn around, and you wonder what the heck happened. You swear it happened overnight, but it didn’t, you just forgot to notice.
When this happens, which is normal by the way, here is my strategy for coping…..

– I panic.
– Close the door, go downstairs and make a cup of tea.
– Sit in the sunroom, drink tea and look at the trees.
– Make a list of absolutely everything I need (and want) to do.
– Give myself a realistic, generous, time limit.
– Turn on some really loud music.
– Grab a couple of garbage bags, and a box for miscellaneous things.
– Put on comfy, old clothes and bare feet.
– Begin.
– Add more music and tea as needed.
– Stop when I am done.

It’s not complicated really, just feels like it for a moment….

p.s. The photograph above is one of the inspiration boards in my office.

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/

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So, where do you work? If you work at home like me you probably don’t want your work area/room to look like a typical office. If I’m not in my studio teaching a class, I’m sitting at my desk tapping away on my keyboard in an area of my den located right off my kitchen and the hall leading up to the second floor. The room is essentially divided into two areas—one for work and one for relaxation. (I often gaze over at the sofa in front of the fireplace and wish I was curled up with a good book.) Now that I’m getting ready to re-do another office (my new studio space), I’m looking for some inspiration.

The office pictured above is so inviting. The warm woods, the blue velvet chair, and inspiration board remind us that these rooms do not need to conform. Use a comfortable chair instead of an office chair. Simply add a set of casters to its legs and you’re off. The inspiration board is an easy DIY project. All you need is a bulletin board (some batting if you want it), fabric, and a staple gun. Take a look at the ones I created using burlap here.
Keep it simple with white but add a pop of color for interest. The shelves are from Ikea (see below) and can be configured into any design you’d like. You can even paint them to add even more color to your space. And please don’t spend a lot of money on drapes or pillows. Fabric remnants can be hemmed and hung from a tension rod or ring clips—you can even use a decorative shower curtain or table cloth. The same is true for the pillow. Find a fabulous print and recover an inexpensive pillow.
Who wouldn’t want all of this space? Custom cabinetry is lovely, but you can achieve s similar look by using free-standing filing cabinets and hollow wood doors. But the one thing I truly love in this space is the textured bulletin boards. Burlap would surely make a good stand in, but so would textured blinds. The chairs are from Crate and Barrel (see below).
Do desks need drawers? Not always. It depends on what you’re using the space for. I worked at an old farm table for years and stored my essentials in baskets and boxes within reach. The best thing about working on a table is the space. You can really stretch out and leave projects out instead of putting them away. (I would like to have both kinds of desks!) Pay attention to your lighting. Make sure any task lighting is placed close to you and any overhead light does its job. Who says you can’t use outdoor lighting indoors? This lantern is both functional and attractive.
Jen over at Made by Girl shared her own office space. This wall is filled with both her own art and pieces that inspire her. Why not frame a page from a magazine, theatre tickets, a thank you note, or anything else that inspires you to keep at it!

Sawhorse tables are quite popular right now. This one is from Williams-Sonoma and is quite pricey, but this one from Ikea is very budget friendly. Here’s a feng shui tip: If your desk faces a wall, hang a mirror over your desk so you can see what’s coming and help reflect the light.

If you want a little more inspiration, then check out these posts about vintage desk accessories, ideas for what the perfect little desk should have, and take a glimpse of my own home office.

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