Spring into an Organized and Clutter Free Home Office (Part 2)



© Cheryl C. Malandrinos
- All Rights Reserved.




Click to read Part One of this article



Office furniture and machines might be what gets the least amount of consideration when setting up a home office. When I started out, I bought a writing desk, tossed a kitchen chair in front of it, and dumped a small lamp on the corner of my desk. The laptop came a bit later.

Viola! Instant office.

That didn’t mean, however, that I had a productive office.

Spring is the perfect time to reassess your work space and see what changes you can make.

Your Desk and Chair

These are two items—in my opinion—that you can’t skimp on: your desk and your chair.

Self-employment experts, Paul and Sarah Edwards state in their book Working from Home that your desk surface needs to be 30 inches off the ground for writing long-hand and 26 inches high for keyboarding.

Ergonomically designed desks include surfaces of more than one height. The keyboarding surface pulls out when you need to type and can be pushed back in when you’re writing long-hand.

If your desk is already at the correct height, but doesn’t have the second surface for keyboarding, you can find an under the desk keyboarding drawer at office supply stores.

There are several models of ergonomically designed chairs on the market. The Edwardses believe that a fully adjustable ergonomically designed chair will prevent almost any injury that could hamper your productivity.

But what if you already have an office chair that is in good shape?

Spine-Health.com offers a set of guidelines for positioning a traditional office chair. This is done by adjusting the chair to your own physical proportions, which will cause the least amount of stress to your spine.


1)    Elbows – Start off by sitting as close to your desk as is comfortably possible, making your upper arms parallel with your spine. Rest your hands on the work surface. If your elbows are not at a 90-degree angle then move the chair up or down.

2)    Thighs – Check to see if you can easily slide your fingers under your thigh at the leading edge of the chair. If it is too tight, you need to prop your feet up with an adjustable footrest.

3)    Calves – With your bottom against the chair back, try to pass your clenched fist between the back of your calf and the front of your chair. If you can’t do that easily, the chair is too deep. You will need to adjust the backrest forward or insert a low back support such as a lumbar support cushion, a pillow or rolled up towel.

4)    Low back support - Your bottom should be pressed against the back of your chair, and there should be a cushion that causes your lower back to arch slightly to avoid slumping forward or slouching down in the chair as you tire.

5)    Resting Eye Level - Close your eyes while sitting down with your head facing forward. Slowly open your eyes. Your gaze should be aimed at the center of your computer screen. If your computer screen is higher or lower than your gaze, you need to either raise or lower it to reduce neck strain.

6)    Armrest - Adjust the armrest of the office chair so that it just slightly lifts your arms at the shoulders.


Other Office Furniture

Look around your work area. Do you have the right type of furniture to meet your needs?

My two-drawer filing cabinet is indispensible. All my current projects are in the top drawer and the less pertinent information is in the bottom drawer. The top surface of the filing cabinet provides me with much needed storage space for reference books.

Let’s think about storage space for a moment. Do you have adequate storage or are you climbing over piles of research materials and papers to get to your desk?

Unique and inexpensive storage solutions for any size work space can be found in home goods stores, office supply stores, and at large retailers.

For smaller spaces, wire shelves that can be attached to the wall will provide storage for books and trade journals. Larger spaces might be able to accommodate bookshelves or credenzas that serve not only as storage pieces, but a place for office machines as well.

There are matching storage solutions that sit on your desk: letter trays, sorters, and file boxes. Other great ideas are fabric-lined wicker baskets, plastic boxes with covers, and accordion folders, all of which will take up a small amount of space. The cheapest storage solution—one which I use often—is cardboard boxes with cut out handles on each side. I often get these for free when I go shopping at the butcher. Add a set of file folders and you have a great filing system.

Office Machines

What machines do you have in your office? Where are they located? What shape are they in?

These are all things to consider when thinking about having a productive and organized work space.

The first thing to consider when it comes to office machines is where should they be placed that will allow you to be the most productive?

Unless you have a laptop, your computer’s CPU must go somewhere. Some computer desks are equipped with additional lower shelves to house CPUs and printers. If yours doesn’t have any, you could create the same effect by purchasing a single wooden shelf at a home improvement store. Just make sure you leave enough space for proper ventilation.

They also make printer stands that are small enough to fit on your writing surface, with a shelf below to store paper.

Explore the ability to send faxes directly from your computer to eliminate the need for a fax machine. Or you can consider purchasing a 3-in-1 printer, scanner, fax machine to cut back on the amount of machines cluttering your work space.

When it comes to productivity, time is money; so if you’re wasting a lot of time and/or money repairing your office equipment, consider buying something new. Oftentimes, you’ll find reconditioned pieces on eBay. That’s where my last two laptops came from. Just make sure you check out any feedback that is left about the seller.

When you have the proper office equipment that is placed where it should be, and combine that with adequate storage space, you’ll have a work area that is set up to give you the most out of your writing time.

Next month’s article will discuss how to create an organized filing system for your research.


About the Author: Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelancer who specializes in helping writers increase productivity through time management and organization. She has also written articles on everyday life in the 1800’s, gardening, parenting, and women’s health issues. Cheryl is also a virtual book tour coordinator for Pump Up Your Book Promotion. You can find out more about Cheryl by visiting her website at http://ccmalandrinos.tripod.com/  



Click to read Part Three of this article







Writer's Guide to Time Management