How to Organize a Home Office – Function and Comfort over Form

How to Organize a Home Office – Function and Comfort over Form

I know many people think that freelancers are out having lunch or working at cafes and travelling the world only working when we want to, but that’s not really the case. Creating a  successful freelance business is all about routine and organization. Freelancers who have no ties and can island hop whenever they feel like it are few and far between. I know many freelancers jumped into this life to be able to spend more time with their families and children. That’s all well and good but having a dedicated space to your business is fundamental to your productivity and sanity. I’m going to break down how to organize a home office and what you should think about when you’re setting yours up.

How to Organize a Home Office: Step 1

Your Office is Prime Real Estate

Like any good real estate agent, you’ll know that the most important thing is “location, location, location”. Do you want your office next to the back door where people are always going in and out, taking off their shoes and messing around? Probably not.

How to Organize a Home Office

Or would you prefer to have it off to one side of the house away from most of the activity going on? I need peace and quiet to concentrate. As a freelance translator, reading in one language and typing in another takes all my brain power. I can’t even concentrate when I listen to music or hear the radio in the background. I’m just not one of those people who can tune out noises.

That being said, make sure you find a spot that your family won’t accidentally interrupt you and you won’t have to worry about people messing with your flow.

Natural light

So now that you’ve found the perfect room in your house (or maybe in the garage), lets get started with how to organize a home office. First off, you’re going to need some natural light. Staring at a blank wall does nothing for your psyche. Studies are overwhelmingly positive about the benefits of having natural light. I touched on them in my article: 10 Ways to Manage Stress Levels.How to Organize a Home Office

A summary of the benefits of natural light. Image: Cohere

With all that evidence it’s easy to see that natural light is hugely beneficial not just to your productivity but also to your overall health and wellbeing.

Spend as much on a chair as you do a bed

I’m guessing you’ve all heard a version of the old saying that goes ” you spend 1/3 of your life sleeping, so splurge on your bed.” As freelancers who work 8 hours per day, do we also not spend 1/3 of our lives in our chairs? When you’re in bed you’re not doing anything, why would you spend less on a chair where you’re actually being productive and making a living?

How to Organize a Home Office
This is what it feels like to sit in an uncomfortable chair

Even if you’re like me and you bought yourself an adjustable height desk (look here if you’re interested: Height Adjustable Standing Desk – What to look for when you buy) then you’ll spend about 4 hours per day in your chair. That’s still a large chunk of your life in your chair. Buying any ol’ chair at Target isn’t going to cut it.

An ergonomic chair that can be adjusted to your body is something all freelancers need to have, no matter your profession. If you’re uncomfortable at work then both your productivity and mood will be in the gutter.

*Disclaimer: Math Ahead.

(If by reading that you started sweating, you may skip to the next section)

Herman Miller is one of the best names out there, and they can run you upward of $1,000, but don’t let that scare you away. Let’s break it down.

This is their warranty:

The Herman Miller Warranty is our promise to you that we stand behind the quality of our products. It recognizes your need for products that can stand up to continuous use. Many of our products are covered by a 12-year warranty that includes parts and labor. And when warranty work is performed in the U.S. and Canada, it covers the cost of service.

How to Organize a Home Office
Try out a Herman Miller, your backside will thank you

You won’t get that type of warranty by buying from a big box store. So, if you have your chair for 12 years, which you can easily do with a Herman Miller, then you would have spent less than $85 per year on your chair. There are about 250 working days per year, so that comes out to a grand total of less than $3 per day. That’s less than your caramel macchiato at Starbucks.

I understand shelling out $1,000 at one time hurts but can you really afford not to?

Your Office, your vibe

Alright, now that I finished my rant on office chairs, let’s get back to how to organize a home office. The best thing about having a home office is that you can customize it as much as you want. If you want modern and clean, go for it. Rustic and classic, perfect. Ikea chic, why not?

It’s yours, make it how you want. However, if you’re still stuck on getting started, I came across a straightforward diagram that should help you out.

It’s all based on what activities you’re going to do in your office and the equipment and furniture you’ll need to get it done. Once you have a list of everything you’ll need, it’s much easier to create a layout.

Function over form

This office is a place where you’ll spend hours and hours of your life, so it should look good. However, in the end, you also need to be productive, or you might not be able to afford that $3 per day you spend on your chair. Functionality and ease of use should be top concerns for how to organize a home office.

How to Organize a Home Office
To me, a perfect combo of form/function

Putting storage on the other side of the room that you need to get in 4 times a day isn’t the best use of your time. Having beautiful lighting that leaves a glare on your screen because it can’t be adjusted probably isn’t the best idea either. Make sure you find the happy medium between function and form, but if you have to sacrifice one of them, make it form.

One last thing

In most offices, you generally see a few chairs for visitors to sit in and talk to the boss or Bigwigs. But, as a freelancer, do you really need extra seating though? Maybe I’m just antisocial, but I’d rather not have guests in my office while I’m trying to work. Having a couple of plush chester chairs, a decanter of whiskey and few empty glasses is just asking for people to come in and bother you.

How to Organize a Home Office
I hope this door locks…

In the end though, it’s all up to you. Creating a list of what you actually NEED to be successful is a great way to get started in how to organize a home office. A simple sketch to help visualize could go a long way as well. Over the years you’ll find more things to help complement the basics. For more info get your free report on the top 5 Ergonomic products of 2018.



Good luck and Happy Freelancing!

What are your thoughts on how to organize a home office?


5 Replies to “How to Organize a Home Office – Function and Comfort over Form”

  1. I like your idea of organizing a home office, it shows you have put much thought into the various details such as position in relation to disturbances.

    What really impressed me is your attention to the need for quality office furniture, such as an ergonomic chair. A chair such as that certainly is expensive but, as you pointed out, a freelancer spends at least 8 hours a day in their office, and seating is a priority.

    I don’t know about those plush chester chairs. I would have to hide them in the event of an ‘occasional’ visitor. What’s more attractive than ending a week by popping into the local freelancer’s office for a Friday night wind down!

    1. Hey!

      Thanks for stopping by! Picking a prime spot for your office can make or break your daily routine. I’d choose quality over quantity anytime, especially if I’m going to be using it for 8 hours a day.

      There’s just something about a chester chairs that invites you to sit in it, isn’t there? Anyways, I appreciate you stopping by and if you ever need anything, please, feel free to ask

  2. What a great post for those of us who work from a home office! I’ve been working at home for almost all of my life. I’ve been in garages, laundry rooms, living rooms and now I have a separate space, an addition we added about 10 years ago and I can say it’s by far the best set-up I’ve had. I have a stand up desk with an adjustable chair behind me so if I get tired I can lean for awhile. I cannot image sitting for 8 hours anymore! yikes! Anyway a lot of good ideas in your post and i’m really happy to know about the chair you recommend (for my husband who also works at home.) Maybe a Father’s Day gift? 🙂

    1. Hey Jackie!

      As you know better than most, it takes some time to get the right set up, but it sounds like you’ve found the sweet spot! Did you get yourself an electric height adjustable desk or a workstation that you put on top of your desk? I’ve got the Flexispot height adjustable desk and would never look back! If you’re looking for Father’s Day gifts I have the perfect article: 10 Gifts for People Who Work from Home – Calling all Freelancers! I hope it helps! Thank you for stopping by and good luck!

  3. I think that you need a private office where you do not get a lot of disturbance as it is your job and you have got to be able to concentrate. I also have a hard time focusing when there is a lot of noise.
    I Agree with you that you should put money into getting a worthwhile chair, one that will be comfortable and will not hurt your back, but I didn’t know office chairs could be $1000.

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