There’s nothing quite as productive as being “in the zone”. If you work from home, though, you know how difficult it is to find the zone (and stay there). Corporate offices can be busy, but home-based offices and workspaces offer a unique set of challenges and distractions. The good news is that today’s technology can help you turn that extra room into a fortress of accomplishment easily. Here’s how to build your home office of the future.

Get digitally organized

First things first: You need to get organized. Many of us spend days outfitting our offices with the right furniture and tools of the trade. However, that effort often only serves as window dressing to a digital life that’s an absolute mess. Digitizing your notes and investing in a solid file storage service can make all the difference when you’re trying to gather your thoughts to meet a critical deadline. Note-taking apps like Evernote and OneNote are lifesavers, and digital file storage services like Shoeboxed, Dropbox and Google Drive are indispensable for staying in sync across a variety of devices.

Shoeboxed is a painless receipt-tracking and expense-managing app for freelance accountants and small business owners. Shoeboxed allows users to scan receipts and store them digitally, create expense reports, track mileage for business, and even store business cards. This versatile app helps you clear your desks and drawers from piles of paper documents, saves you time and hustle, increase productivity and efficiency, and so much more.

Shed a little light

It’s easy to flip on a ceiling light and struggle through its harsh glow. However, a few strategically placed lamps and some smart bulbs, can turn a boring room into an island of inspiration. Studies have shown that different color temperatures in lighting can have powerful effects on mood and focus. Today’s smart bulbs such as the Philips Hue and Sengled LED bulbs allow you to use an app to quickly dim or turn off the light without getting up from your seat. Their always-on internet connection can even turn the lightbulbs into a non-intrusive notification system. Pairing your smart lights with a service like Stringify or IFTT keeps you informed even when your phone isn’t nearby.

home office of the future lighting

You might also be interested in: 6 Ways to Define Your Workspace at Home.

Get into the groove

Lights can go a long way to getting your head in the right space. However, nothing can help you focus quite like the right ambient sound—or the lack thereof, depending upon your preferences. Noise-cancelling Bluetooth headphones are an excellent option to consider if you need quiet while you work. But if music is your muse, no home office is complete without a great sound system to get the blood flowing.

Wireless home audio systems from companies like Sonos and Klipsch are a fantastic choice, with many offering connections from your turntable or even your cable box. When you rattle the walls with a few great tunes, you never know what ideas might shake loose on a typical Tuesday afternoon.

Secure your space

One great thing about these tech add-ons is that you can control them while you’re away from your office. Smart home hubs allow you to turn off the lights or lock the door after you’ve left in a hurry or forgot to do it. You can connect these tools to a security system so that you can keep an eye on your workspace when you’re not there. From adding wireless sensors to the windows to placing a Wi-Fi camera in the corner (inside and outside), it’s wise to set up a ring of security around your home office just as you would in other areas of your home.

A small investment can go a long way to turning a vanilla workspace into a productivity powerhouse. The next time you’re at the gadget store or talking with your internet service provider, ask to see the latest connected home products to upgrade your home office of the future. It’s one more step toward leaving the competition in the dust.

Eric Murrell is a software developer and technology contributor to XFINITY Home. He enjoys sharing how people can benefit from incorporating smart home automation and security in their homes on his blog At Home in the Future.

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About Shoeboxed!

Shoeboxed is a receipt scanning service that supports multiple methods for receipt capture: send, scan, upload, forward, and more!

You can stuff your receipts into one of our Magic Envelopes (prepaid postage within the US). Use our receipt app (iPhone, iPad and Android) to snap a picture while on the go. Auto-import receipts from Gmail. Or forward a receipt to your designated Shoeboxed email address.

Turn your receipts into data and deductibles with our expense reports that include IRS-accepted receipt images.

Join over 1 million businesses scanning & organizing receipts, creating expense reports and more—with Shoeboxed.