Friday, July 3, 2009
We all aspire to have the perfect Home Office (some of us take it more seriously than others). Many people spend all day every day in their office, others casually use the office in the evenings & weekends as a way to escape reality.
This Zen Bible is intended to be a resource to help you to not only get the most out of your Home Office, but to also help you stay productive & healthy whilst you work there.
Cables hanging down the back of your desk can really make a desk area or room feel messy. There's just something about cables that's almost impossible to make them look tidy. Well since we can't make them look tidy, lets hide them with some nifty homemade cable management. This technique allows you to almost make your cables invisible using some Rain Gutters (total cost around $30).
A messy desk decreases your productivity, not only do you not have enough space to work properly but you end up worrying about the clutter (as if there's thing there that you've left unfinished).
There a number of things that you need to do to achieve the absolute tidy desk:
No-one likes a messy Desktop, keep it organised with StarDock Fences, a free utility that allows you to group desktop items into groups. The nice thing about this application is that it remembers locations on multiple monitors (useful if you use a laptop with two monitors regularly).
Remember having dial up internet? Once you move to broadband you'd never ever wish to go back there. That's what it's like moving from one screen to two screens. Research conducted by Microsoft back in 2003 found that using dual monitors could potentially increase productivity anywhere between 9% - 50% (and that was before the days of 1650 x 1050 resolutions).
If you're feeling adventurous you can mount your LCD Monitorson the wall, this is a great way to increase precious desk real estate. Naturally it works well with the Apple Cinema Displays or perhaps one of the new slim led LCD screens.
Often if you're traveling around you'll have a laptop as well as your home PC/Mac. You can easily hook this secondary laptop up to your existing setup but first you need to make sure it fits properly into your desk & workflow. There's a number of laptop stands for your desktop that allow the laptop to sit at the right ergonomic height.
If you're running multiple PC's or even a Mac & a PC together there's a wonderful piece of software called Synergy that allows you to run one keyboard but control both systems (similar to a dual monitor setup).
One of the more expensive ways to desktop eliminate wires is to go completely wireless with your keyboard, mouse & speakers. The iMac also has a much smaller desktop footprint that your average PC system & only one power cable.
Backing up a home office is something we often overlook. It takes time & patience and a regime to make sure you do it regularly. Many people back up onto an external drive, but what if your house catches fire? Then your backups are gone.
Mozy is a simple service that costs no more than $4.99 a month (15% off an annual subscription with our Mozy Coupon) for unlimited backups from a single computer. It backs up via the web when you're not using your computer. It's practically invisible.
Whilst a USB key is a good idea I'm always scared I'll leave it somewhere. Instead I use Dropbox to keep my important files in a place that I can get them anywhere, anytime. For example, lets say your house burns down (again) & you've created an inventory of all your items for insurance. But, you've left the file on your PC. If that file had been left in your dropbox (or even backed up with Mozy) all would not be lost.
There's plenty of other exciting things you can do with a DropBox, use it to catch computer thieves in the act or as an encrypted drive.
Chances are that you have a pretty comfortable bed, after all you do spend 8 hours a night in it. Well the same goes for your workspace, if you're spending 8 hours in front of the computer then you're going to want to get a comfortable chair (otherwise you'll need a decent Chiropractor).
There's a number of decent office chairs out there like the Herman Miller - Mirra or Aeron. However they will set you back around $1,000 (you can write it off against tax as long as you are using it exclusively for business purposes).
Getting the right desk is every bit as important as the chair. You need the right height & the right amount of space to feel comfortable. There's a few things to consider when buying a desk:
A cluttered email inbox is almost as bad as a cluttered desk. Utilise Gmail to consolidate your mail & remove more spam. Grab the Better Gmail 2 plugin & you can organise your labels like folders (utilising the Folders4Gmail GreaseMonkey option).
Use the folder name then the sub folder to name (i.e. storecrowd/blog, storecrowd is the main holding folder & blog the the sub folder). The excellent thing is that these folders are translated through to Thunderbird now if you use IMAP to sync things up. So you can work in Thunderbird in the office & still check email online without disrupting things.
When you're working long hours in the office it's important that you stay healthly, there's plenty of things you should be doing:
If you want something to aspire to take a quick look at the Milk Desk, I don't think this desk could be messy even if you tried.
If you need help balancing you work life with your home life then you're not alone. It's important to stay focused on work & not distracted by the things at home that wouldn't normally exist in the workplace (i.e. Cable TV or Games).
That dreaded time comes around once every year, so do you know what you can claim & what you can't claim? We've included some handy guides that should give you a bit more clarity on dealing with your home office Taxes. There's software out there like TurboTax that can help ease the pain, but what are some of the fundamentals you need to know?
Need some inspiration for you Home Office? Take a leaf out of someone else's book with these inspiring offices:
Ready to get stuck in & design your own Home Office? Here's our top picks to help you build the perfect Zen Office.