10 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Home Office Cheaply
While most of your freelancing hours should go towards billable, client projects, it is also important to spend some time making your working life better. For me, nothing makes me feel happier at work than sitting in a nice office environment. Although I would love to have a really spectacular office filled with expensive designer furniture, the reality is what it is. Like any design project, you have to accept your constraints and work within them.
Here are 10 things you can do to improve your home office on the cheap:
Buy a Plant
Nothing brightens up a space like other forms of life. If you can’t have co-workers, well plants are better company anyway. A bit of greenery can lift a room and make it a much more pleasant place to be. I must confess to having a poor record with plants myself, having sent more than a few to plant-heaven. But while they were alive, I did enjoy their oxygen emitting aesthetic.
Get a Recycling System
There are heaps of ways that freelancers can be more environmentally friendly, the simplest of which is to have a recycling system. All offices produce large amounts of paper waste and there is no sense putting it in with all those plastic twinkie wrappers. So get yourself a couple of colour-coded bins and start recycling.
Tidy Up the Wires
Wires are an ugly necessity of the modern world. While you might be able to get a wireless mouse, keyboard and even internet, you simply can’t escape power cords. Chances are that you’ll have quite a few other types of cables too and they’re probably all in a giant pile of knots somewhere under your desk. What can you do? Quite a lot actually…
- Bind cords together
Your cables will often run together in big clumps, so get a ‘tidy’ (you know those little wire binders that come in electronics packaging) or even a string or rubber band and bind the cords together at intervals so that become one giant cord rather than a web of cables.
- Clamp long running wires to walls
Sometimes you have to run a long cable from one room to another, or just from one end of a room to the other side. When this happens it’s best to get clamps to stick the wires to the walls. You can get little clamps for this purpose from your local hardware store and they’ll help blend your cables in with the room, not to mention cutting back on you tripping yourself up.
- Get retractable cords
One clever innovation that I recently got with my ethernet cable was a retractable spindle. That way excess cable retracts into a neat bundle instead of drifting around the office.
- Bind cords together
Add a Filing Cabinet
If you haven’t already got one, a filing cabinet can help clean up the most disorganised of offices. You have to stay consistent with them, but they pay off big rewards. Read our 9 tips on using filing cabinets.
Organise Your Desk
Visit your local office supplies store and grab yourself a few organisational items to clean up your desk. Things like pen holders, trays, boxes and CD/DVD storage can make a big difference to your workspace.
Get some Colour
There’s nothing like colour to brighten up an office space. Get some artwork or a poster to make your wall a little more visually interesting. Grab a cool desktop for your screen and a nice screensaver for when you’re busy looking away. In our office we have gigantic painting done by a homeless girl that Cyan bought at a charity auction. It’s a bit crazy, but certainly makes the place look lively.
Get a Clock
A wall clock is another nice way to decorate your wall and a good excuse to look away from your screen now and again to help preserve your eyes from strain. Find yourself something that matches the rest of your decor and avoid a loud ticking clock at all costs!
Get a USB cup warmer
OK so this is a bit of an oddball suggestion, but I love tea and these little guys keep it warm for much longer. They’re not that expensive, though it is one more wire on your desk. USB Cup Warmers at Amazon
Improve the lighting
Nothing improves an office space like lighting. If you’ve ever browsed through an Ikea store you’ll know that they always make generous use of lamps and lights. This is because they make things look good!
If your office doesn’t get a lot of daylight, you might want to begin by maximizing that. Make sure your windows are clear of anything that impedes the light. If you are on the ground floor but facing the wrong direction to get much natural light, you can use a strategically placed mirror outside to reflect more light in. Similarly on the inside a mirror can help push light around your room.
Along with natural light, consider getting a lamp or some other types of lighting. Places like Ikea have lots of small decorative types of lamps that can be appended to book cases, hidden below pot plants or placed next to your desk.
Add a Calendar / Wallplanner / Whiteboard
Despite all the advances in calendar and planning technology, I still use pen and paper to remember things. If you’re like me, a calendar, a wallplanner or a whiteboard are all handy ways to keep track of what’s coming up, what’s going on and what you should be freaking out about. And like a clock, they force you to look away from your screen now and again which is always a good thing.
Of course those are just a few ideas. There are in fact lots of things you can do to make your home office a better place to work. I love visiting my local Ikea and Officeworks to find ideas – although this often leads to inadvertent spending. Remember if you’re spending most of your waking life in your office space, you may as well make it a nice place to be!