6 Ways to Define Your Workspace at Home

A home office that promotes concentration and creativity and protects you from diversions is simpler than you think—and we’ve got six tips to get you there.

If you work from home even part of the time, chances are, you struggle with distractions. You’re certainly not alone. While some distraction is perfectly natural, if it’s getting in the way of a productive day, it’s time to make a change. A home office that promotes concentration and creativity and protects you from diversions is simpler than you think—and we’ve got six tips to get you there.

home office 31. Make room for work

Of course, distraction is an issue at the office, too, but it’s more manageable because the entire space is dedicated to work and efficiency. You don’t want to turn your entire home into an office, but you do want to set a clear and distinct space that is just for work and outfit it accordingly.

Ideally, your workspace is as far away as from the living areas of the house as possible, or has a door that you can keep closed. That way, when you’re working, it’s all about work, and when you’re not, you don’t have to be distracted from a relaxing evening at home by your inbox. Your first defense against diversion is to create a space that you actually enjoy spending time in. Indulge in a favorite paint color, hang some prints or photos that you love, and pop on some music when you walk through that door.

2. Outfit the space

Ever notice how your house is really clean when you have a deadline? Organizing doesn’t feel like procrastination, but it often is. Keep your home office easy to organize by making sure you have the space and equipment to do the job—and to keep the space tidy. Shelves, rather than cabinets and drawers, keep everything accessible—not only so you can easily get at what you need, but so you can easily put it away, too. Simple bathroom hooks installed over the desk do wonders to keep the desk clear, and give you easy access to headphones, charging cables, and keys. So many of our clients who work from home also do a lot of shipping from home, and a stylish towel rack repurposed above the workspace is another great way to keep things in order.

home office 23. Don’t go cable crazy

A tangled twist of computer and electronics cables gets in the way of productivity in the inevitable event that you need to move equipment or a cable comes loose. But it’s also the kind of thing that promotes procrastination every time you sit down and see that mess staring you in the face. I mean, how can you get any work done until that’s taken care of? Choose one of the many cable management systems available today according to your particular work style, and cut down on the equipment as much as possible, too. Make sure your printer also works as a copier and fax machine, and use your computer for music and video.

4. Figure out the filing

People often overthink filing. Accessible and organized files are very important, but filing cabinets are not always a necessary or convenient choice. Here, too, shelves with baskets and binders for files you use frequently keep the work flowing and the clean up simple. My rule is to touch everything no more than once, so if I don’t have to head for cold storage every time I need to file an invoice, I’m much more likely to do it right then.

home office 15. Let in the light

One of the first reasons we get distracted is because we get tired. Though we tend to forget it, our eyes are what we use most when we work, and a day spent looking at computer screens, invoices and spreadsheets can be exhausting. That’s why good lighting is crucial to keeping you focused both visually and mentally. You want three layers of light: Ambient, task and accent lighting.

Use a dimmer switch on the main source of overhead light so you have strong light when you need it, but can tone it down, too. Desk and floor lamps will help you keep your eyes on the details, and accent lighting will be helpful in maintaining an attractive and intimate space that’s pleasant to be in.

6. Sit up straight!

Finally, make sure to invest in a good office chair. It’s hard to sit up straight for long stretches of time, but today’s ergonomic office chairs make that a much simpler and more relaxing affair.

Keep it simple to look at, but make sure it has the ergonomic controls that address your personal body issues. One of the first reasons we walk away from the work in front of us is because we’re tired of sitting, so the right chair removes one more source of distraction.

Now, tell us your tips for creating a workspace that keeps you working!

Interior designer Kerrie Kelly writes on home organization and home office décor for Home Depot. Kerrie’s ideas focus on helping you become more productive at home through the creative use of design and décor. To view office bookcase and shelving options that could improve your home workspace, you can visit Home Depot’s selections online.

Designing a Simple Solution for Receipts: A Shoeboxed Success Story

In this customer profile, you’ll meet Janine Vangool, the publisher, editor and designer of UPPERCASE Magazine. Learn how she uses Shoeboxed as a catchall for her receipts, allowing her to spend more time focusing on growing her business, in this Shoeboxed success story!

With Shoeboxed, there has never been one “best” way to use our service to stay organized. And after processing over a billion dollars of expense data since 2007, we say that from years of firsthand experience!

Shoeboxed takes enormous pride in serving clients from around the country and across the globe, all of whom use our service in a myriad of ways to fulfill a whole host of organizational needs in both their personal and professional lives.

“I really do use Shoeboxed after what it is named: it is my catchall for business receipts that I need to save and sort later.”

-Janine Vangool

janine-vangoolIntroducing: Janine Vangool

Profession: Publisher, editor and designer of UPPERCASE Magazine

Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Website: www.uppercasemagazine.com

Twitter: @uppercasemag

LinkedIn: Janine Vangool

Shoeboxed: We’re excited to chat with you, Janine! Thanks for taking the time. Let’s start with you telling us a bit about yourself and UPPERCASE.

Janine Vangool: Absolutely. I’ve been using Shoeboxed for almost a year, so I’m thrilled to share my experience! Anyway, my background is in graphic design, and nearly five years ago I founded a magazine. It started out as my own side dream project and quickly took over. UPPERCASE is a quarterly magazine for the creative and curious—our content is inspired by design, illustration and craft. We have around 3000 subscribers around the world. I’m the publisher, editor and designer. I have two employees: Jocelyn handles subscriptions and wholesale accounts and Erin does marketing and publicity.

SBX: Nothing makes us happier than seeing someone turn a side business into a full-time career, so that’s awesome. How did you get started?

19-cover-photoJV: When I was studying design in college, I always imagined someday having my own design studio. This happened a lot sooner that I thought; a few months after graduating, I started freelancing. The freelancing grew into a nice graphic design business, but after a dozen years I was looking for more of a challenge. UPPERCASE developed out of the desire to create and author my own projects.

SBX: That sounds like a natural progression, but going from a freelancer to managing your own employees can be quite a change! What’s the most stressful part of your job?

JV:  Absolutely. I’d have to say that the most stressful aspect is managing the responsibilities of the business; there are so many demands on me and my time that the actual creative aspect of the business is often lower on the priority list. I’m striving to fix that!

SBX: The administrative side of things is difficult for many of our users, so we do everything we can to ease that strain. Let’s talk about the fun side though: what’s the biggest upside to running UPPERCASE?

JV: The best part of the job is finding inspiring content and collaborating with talented people from around the world. It is very satisfying to see it all come together in print.

SBX: That must be fulfilling. We’d love to hear a bit about what you did with all your documents before Shoeboxed. How did you stay organized before using our service?

JV: In previous years, most of my bills were still the old-fashioned paper variety which were stored in their proper folder in a filing cabinet. And there they stayed until tax time! With a concerted effort this year to go paperless, my bills and receipt are primarily by email, which makes sorting and reporting so much easier.

SBX: Nice! Can you tell us about how you found out about Shoeboxed, and how you use it now?

JV: Sure. I’ve been a regular user of Evernote for many years, saving pertinent invoices and receipts into that system. Since Shoeboxed integrates with Evernote, that process is much easier. I simply use email (or the app to snap a photo) and forward my receipts to Shoeboxed. Once all of my receipts have been organized in Shoeboxed, they automatically get archived in Evernote for my own records. I also use the integration with QuickBooks Online so that my bookkeeper can easily access everything he needs.

SBX: That’s awesome! We’re so glad you’ve made our integrations a part of your workflow. If you had to sum up your Shoeboxed experience in a single sentence, what would you say?

JV: I really do use Shoeboxed after what it is named: it is my catchall for business receipts that I need to save and sort later.

Janine-Vangool-UPPERCASE-(photo-by-Heather-Saitz)-webSBX: Perfect. Would you say we make it easier for you to stay organized and/or for your business to grow? How so?

JV: Now that I’ve been using Shoeboxed for many months, it is second nature to send my receipts there. It feels good to have that organization taken care of and not be surrounded by paperwork to file. It certainly frees up more valuable time for me to take care of other aspects of growing my business.

SBX: We’re thrilled to hear that. Lastly, do you have any helpful tips for our users or small business owners that are trying to get organized?

JV: I always recommend Evernote for creative people trying to stay organized. Whether it’s a written note or a saved image, I have nearly five years worth of notes there— it is invaluable to be able to access old ideas, links you’ve saved, things that inspired then and now. It’s on my phone and my laptop; it goes everywhere my brain goes!

SBX: We love Evernote too! Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Janine! We’re thrilled to be a part of your business’s growth by providing a simple solution for receipts.

Are you a Shoeboxed user who has a success story and would like to be featured on our blog? Then we would love to hear from you! Please reach out to Emily at emily@team.shoeboxed.com for more information.

Until next time, stay tuned… and stay organized!