With many people still working from home and the holiday sales season fast approaching, now is a great time to consider what you need to set up or improve your home office. Working in the right environment is key to being productive and happy in the office – even if that office happens to be inside your house.
While there are plenty of opportunities to spend big on home office supplies, it’s also possible to outfit your work-from-home area on a budget. Here are a few tips to setting up a home office while also sticking to a budget:
Set Your Budget
How much can you put aside to cover your home office expenses? Determine a figure that fits comfortably in your household budgets. There may be expenses you can minimize to allow you more room for your home office budget.
Pin Down Your Essentials
Don’t start shopping until you’ve mentally designed your home office, or you might end up with knick-knacks you don’t actually need. Start with the big pieces first: a desk and chair are probably a must, and beyond that, you might want storage shelves, a filing cabinet, or possibly a table for your printer. For smaller accessories, consider what will help you stay organized, as it’s easy for clutter to build up when you’re not constrained to a single desk. Accessories like magazine files, a letter draw and a desk organizer can make a big difference to keeping your things in order and making the work day feel more streamlined and under control.
Don’t Leave Out the Décor
If you’re outfitting a home office on a budget, it can be tempting to ditch the décor budget – but this might negatively impact your work in the long run! Studies show that people are more creative, mentally present and able to focus when they’re working from a pleasantly decorated environment. Indeed, being surrounded by things you love and things that make you feel happy can’t help but affect your working day for the better; so set aside some money to get at least a few items of décor you love. Plants are especially great for mental stimulation and all-around positive feelings in the office environment, and they won’t cost an arm and a leg.
Get the Lighting Right
Lighting might just be the most important aspect of your office decorations. Having the right lighting can make the difference between helping you feel focused, energized and emotionally resilient during the day – or causing you to feel drained, distracted and unable to meet the challenges of the day. Overhead lighting alone is not sufficient for most home office set-ups, especially if natural lighting is limited. Aim to bring in ambient, indirect light sources such as floor lamps, desk lamps and even strings of lights so that your space is properly illuminated. As a bonus, ambient lighting can also make you look less washed-out or tired on video calls!
Invest in Key Technology
Technology is a tough ask when it comes to home office spending. You’ll need certain items to do your job well, but you won’t want your budget to go through the roof – especially if you end up heading back to the non-home office next year. See what your boss will let you take home and then nail down what else you need and which items are really key. Beyond the basics, consider investing in a great pair of headphones as this can make a big difference to staying focused if you’re working from a noisy home. A laptop raiser is another piece of tech that’s not too expensive, but can really help the home office set-up to feel more comfortable and professional if you’re working without the usual desktop.
Help Yourself Make New Habits
The benefit of working from home is that it gives you the opportunity to re-think old habits from the office. Why not integrate an 11am sit-up session into your morning or pause just after lunch for a five-minute meditation re-set? While designing your home office, consider what items you can add to integrate these new, healthy habits into the work day; whether that’s a set of weights next to your desk or a few candles to encourage mindful breaks during the day. Having a large clock on your desk or on the wall is another surprisingly effective way to remind yourself to take breaks and stick to a daily schedule, which can be tougher to do while working from home.
Outfit Your Office for Less
November, December and January are actually a great time to purchase home office equipment. While it’s true that the holidays are an extremely busy time of the year for shopping, they’re also the time of year when stores have huge discounts and special offers galore. If you’re worried about the safety of shopping with hordes or other people – or simply don’t want to deal with the hassle of visiting a mall around the holidays – check out online vendors to see what’s on sale this season. Even independent and second-hand shops will often lower prices around this time of year, so check out those merchants if you want to save even more on your home office budget. You may also be able to repurpose items you already have in your home.