Are you getting your home office ready for remote work? Maybe you’ve been working remotely for a while now but you’ve been making do with your sofa or a desk in the corner of your bedroom. Or perhaps a new job means you’re working remotely for the first time.

Whether you’re an old hand at remote work or brand new to it, here’s how to get your remote home office set up well.

1. Make the most of the space you do have.

You may not have a spare bedroom to use as a home office—but hopefully, you can find at least part of a room that you can use. Ideally, you want somewhere that’s in a quiet area of the house (your kitchen table probably isn’t a good option) and that has a door you can shut to avoid distractions and interruptions.

Making the most of your space might mean rearranging furniture. For instance, perhaps you could shift a bed from the center of a room to the side, making more space for an office zone.

2. Maximize natural light.

Most of us feel better when we have good, natural light to work by—it lifts our mood. You want your home office to be well-lit. Ideally, that means having plenty of sunlight coming in (though you don’t want it so bright that you can’t see your screen).

If you can’t fill your room with natural light, make sure you have good artificial light. You might want to get a desk lamp and you may need to switch old light bulbs for more modern ones. Cooler color temperatures (tending towards blue rather than orange) can help keep you alert while you’re working, too.

3. Have everything you need close by.

Working from home can be wonderful—no commute and no need to share your fridge with colleagues—but it can also be stressful at times. If you spend ages each morning rushing around your house trying to find everything you need to start your day, you’re not going to be feeling relaxed or calm.

Whatever your profession, you’ll need basics like a laptop or phone. In some industries, you’ll want to make sure you have other essentials at your desk. For instance, if you’re a real estate professional, you may want to have printed particulars of properties for easy reference. It’s also a good idea to make sure you’re dressed appropriately: Real estate professionals who work from home might need to jump on video chats with colleagues or clients with very little notice.

4. Separate work from your personal life.

One of the drawbacks to remote work is that it can feel as though work is taking over the whole of your life—and your home. It’s important to set up your office space so that you can separate your work from everything else. That ideally means being able to leave the room (and even close the door on work) at the end of your working day. 

If you’re working from a bedroom or other multi-use room, though, you may need to get a little more creative for the sake of your mental health and work/life balance. Perhaps you could put your work laptop away in a drawer, or even cover your desk with a blanket to signal that work is over for the day.

5. Think carefully about where to keep your snacks.

When you’re working from home, having snacks within arm’s reach can seriously derail your healthy eating plans.

You may find that it’s best to keep indulgent snack food in the kitchen: That way, you need to make a deliberate choice to get up from your desk if you want a snack, instead of mindlessly eating one. This can also prompt you to stretch your legs, drink water, and take a short break from looking at your screen—all of which will help boost your concentration and productivity for the rest of the day.

6. Include houseplants in your home office.

Nature can be wonderfully healing… and even if you can’t get outside much during the working day, you can bring nature inside to you. Add houseplants to your working space: just make sure you choose ones that are easy to care for. (If you’re terrible at watering plants, cacti are a good choice.)

You could also try to set up your desk so that you have a view of your yard or a natural area outside your home.

7. Have artwork or posters that you like on the walls.

You’re going to be spending quite a bit of time inside your office—so you may as well surround yourself with things that delight, amuse, or inspire you. That could be gorgeous artwork, motivational posters, family photos, or your kids’ drawings.

You might also want to experiment with things like positive affirmations and vision boards that tie in with your personal and professional goals

8. Keep your home office tidy.

In an office with colleagues, you wouldn’t leave empty cookie wrappers on the floor or have coffee mugs piling up on your desk. You wouldn’t have unopened mail stacked around the room or books left strewn on the floor When you work from home, though, it’s easy for the clutter to build up. 

Spend 5 minutes at the end of each workday tidying up your home office. While you might think you don’t notice all the clutter when you’re busy working, it’s likely bringing your mood down without you realizing it.

Setting up your home office well means making sure you can work comfortably there. Your home office should benefit your mental (and physical) health, rather than working against it. Follow the above tips and you’ll be well on your way to a great home office setup.

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