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7 tips for designing your workspace
Creating a welcoming, functional workspace is essential to being successful when working from home. These seven points outline how to design a workspace that's efficient and motivating, while reflecting your personality.

1. Assess your current office space.
Take a moment to sit with a notepad in the middle of your workspace. Look around you and jot down your thoughts and feelings. Where do you see the most clutter and biggest eyesores? When you go to find something, do you know right where it is? Is your chair comfortable? Does your office décor reflect your personality? Write it all down.

2. Establish goals for functionality.
Look at the assessment you just performed and define how you want the space to work for you. Having an objective will help guide you through the next steps. Too often, people do perimeter-based planning and place a desk against a wall. Looking at a wall all day is neither healthy nor functional. Also, look outside of what's sold at the big office supply stores and seek items that offer functionality and versatility. Investing in pieces that grow with you and could be used in a variety of ways saves money in the long run.

3. Wipe the slate clean.
Remove everything—yes, everything—from your space. Starting with an empty space allows you to better visualize what your space could be with a little rearranging and creativity. You might even want to sketch a layout. As you begin to bring things back in, take a look at your desk and decide what has to be there. There are the obvious things, such as your computer, but what about the other items? If you don't use it every day, find another spot for it.

4. There's a place for everything.
Organize your desk and drawers with trays and caddies. There are hundreds of options, so do some shopping to choose what will work best for you and your tastes. If you find you need more room on your desk, a table placed next to it will add an elegant touch to your office. Keep organized: Go through your piles at least once a week and your files at least once a year. Get rid of everything you no longer need and shred any financially sensitive materials.

5. You are what you sit on.
Many experts agree that the single most important piece of furniture in your office is your chair. Shop for one as you would a mattress, and consult with a retailer with knowledge. Choose a chair that offers maximum mobility, comfort, and support.

6. Think about lighting.
Poor lighting can cause headaches, double vision, and fatigue. If you spend eight or more hours a day in your office, you'll want light that's long lasting and energy-efficient. A good choice would be warm fluorescents in the ceiling fixture. Other tips include lighting the wall behind the computer to reduce eyestrain and placing light sources beside or above (never in front of) your terminal. Desk lamps are also practical choices; place the lamp to your left if you are right-handed and to your right if you're a lefty.

7. Make it your own.
Now comes the fun part! One of the biggest advantages of working from home is that you have no restrictions. Creating the right look and feel is a reflection of you and your professionalism. If layout and decorating aren't your idea of fun, consider hiring an interior designer. Once you've selected colors, choose a few focal pieces that make a statement about your sense of style. And because of your business, anything related to your personal travel experience such as trinkets you picked up while abroad or photos of your adventures adds to the atmosphere. And surround yourself with things you treasure most, such as photos of family and friends or anything else you find motivating.

Written by Jill Carroll is the marketing director for Groups Today magazine.
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

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