April 12, 2024

Creating a Productive Home Office Setup

Working from home is like playing a whole different ball game than at the office. You’re always around the house and prone to distractions such as dishes or phone calls. Because of this it’s important to have a room you can feel productive working any hour of the day.

featured image - working from home office iPhone laptop

However not everybody has a personal budget to spend on new office equipment. Instead I’ll share some easy techniques you can use to spruce up any living space around the house. A home office setup doesn’t require large spacious areas(although these are nice). You need a room to put yourself in a good mindset and focus on productivity.

Staying Organized

I stress this frequently because a messy workspace only leaves room for a messy thought process. I could never freely write or design knowing I’ve got loose papers and a mismanaged organizational system. Even if you’re a naturally messy person it’s key to run your home office in an orderly fashion.

Have all important contact information saved in one place whether written down or digitally. Your smartphone address list can be an option, although I prefer to have freelance details copied down as well. You don’t want to feel cluttered in the space or confined to a closed area. You should be able to pull out anything you need without digging through too many desk drawers.

And this attitude should follow through on your digital desktop as well. Mostly all of us are working on computers and need to create some form of organization hierarchy. Freelancers have the need for written documents, web designs, wireframes, graphics, icons, and plenty of other file types.

cleaning up around the office

Setup a plan for how you’ll store these documents and stick to it! I organize folders based on the current month and year so I have archives going back throughout all my work. Figure out a system that works for you and don’t be discouraged if you can’t find something right away. Test out a few different solutions of organizing files until you hit the sweet spot.

Setup Trial Work Hours

If you have a house to yourself during the day then it’s much easier to setup your own working hours. But when you have family and young kids around the house sometimes they don’t understand the value of privacy. You need to plan times where you have 1-2 hours of solitude for completing important works.

This time may feel better coming later in the evening or very early in the morning. These are hours where it’s naturally a bit quieter and less stressful on your attention span. Even if you live alone it can be a chore to force yourself into getting any work done.

Washington university library reading

Moving around the house throughout the day will keep you active and taking frequent breaks from your work. If you feel cramped in your office space then try moving into the living area or kitchen. Sometimes a change of scenery can boost creativity and make you feel more alert.

Remove Easy Distractions

Each person has their own list of weaknesses and distractions to tear them away from working. It’s important you have time to relax, but during work hours you need to stay focused on each task. Remove any objects from the room which you may find distracting – radios, televisions, or video games are just a few examples.

It’d be best to ultimately keep all these things elsewhere in the house. However if you work from rooms with a TV or games there’s not much of a choice – you’ll have to learn power over self-control. The distractions will always be there, and so will your work, so you have to find a common middle ground. How much time is required for you to get a significant amount of work completed in any given day? How many breaks do you find reasonable between 1-2 hours of work?

Again, these questions do not have a “one size fits all” answer. The best part about freelancing from home is the enormous freedom to experiment with different working schedules. Find out what motivates you and what works best for your situation.

Managing your To-Do List

Every freelancer working from home should have a set of daily to-dos. If you go into working head strong with no solid goals you may find much less accomplished come the end of the day. Focused energy is a powerful mentality.

new home office desk calendars

Have your to-dos easy to access and move around. If you’re obligated with other family-oriented tasks then schedule these in throughout the list. You don’t want to miss appointments by accidentally working through them. Try to update and sync all your calendars every few days so you have one master to-do list you can look over each morning.

Work in Comfort

Nobody should have to feel strained when sitting down to work. This may be the case in some office jobs where your comfort level is not exactly in your control. But at home you should make no excuses!

working in comfort messy bedroom

If you buy a desk & chair setup make sure you feel comfortable with everything. You’ll be spending a lot of time sitting down typing away at various tasks. If you already have a setup that feels well you could try moving around the room furniture. Interior decor is a whole larger topic which explains how you sit and where you’re facing can affect creativity flow in the room.

I find it best to work when there is sunlight streaming in through the windows. It gives more stimulation to the room and my train of thought. But I know plenty of freelancers who prefer working in the dark of night. As long as you’re comfortable and feeling relaxed then the work will just flow.


Creating a productive atmosphere is more than office furniture and extra space. It’s about a feeling and emotional state as well. I hope this article has provided useful tips to building a productive mindset when working from home. Keep yourself motivated, focused, and above all love what you do!


Jake is a creative writer and UI designer by trade. You can follow him on twitter @jakerocheleau or learn more at his personal website JakeRocheleau.com.


  1. designfollow Reply

    Those are great tips. I think that we should also consider our productive time, wherein we do well during these times. It could be early in the morning of late at night. We just have to make sure that there are no disturbances during those times.

  2. JasonG Reply

    Don’t forget to go outside and socialize. Working from home can get lonely sometimes, and that isolation isn’t always healthy. Take lunch or coffee meetings with peers, have face-to-face meetings with local clients rather than conference calls whenever possible, or even just schedule a personal errand for the middle of the work day. I like to do my grocery shopping in the afternoon, if breaks up the monotony of the day, gets me out of the “office”, and is still productive.

  3. Michael Meininger Reply

    One awesome thing I did in my office is a Dry erase wall using a special dry erase paint. It’s so handy for notes, layouts, wireframes and the like.

    Plus when I have free time, I may illustrate an image and clients eat it up.

  4. Navigator Multimedia Reply

    Based on this article, and the article Jake wrote for Spyre Studios, which showcased beautiful office spaces, it seems to me that effective work environments require lots of natural light and clean space (organization comes into play here!)
    Distractions work in balance. With wide windows, you might be able to see people walking across the street, or watch the trees rustle in the wind. But those are separate from you, impervious to your focus. Inside, distractions like clutter and gadgets are so tempting, so hungry for your precious hours of solitude. Window space invites clarity. Clean space eliminates immediate distractions.
    Thanks for the suggestions, Jake!

    Sarah Bauer
    Navigator Multimedia

  5. Kenneth Reply

    Thanks for the great post, Jake. The point is that I’m thinking about going freelance and the concerns and possible issues you pointed out come in really handy. It sounds that you should really take into account more things when you decide to become self-employed. Thanks again. 🙂

  6. Website Design Singapore - Morgan & Me Creative Reply

    Awesome reads, these kind of set ups are really on the rise and we see and meet lots of clients who are budding entrepreneurs working in SOHO environments. It’s crucial to find and allocate a space in the home, keep to it at disciplined hours and remove all items which may provide any form of distraction.

  7. Luis Rosales Reply

    Great Article! Yes creating a comfort around your home office is very important. Our company is ran through our home studio. We enjoy smooth lighting and pleasant aroma. For example we love the smell of vanilla candles. If your working at home and you have various unwanted aromas circulating around, it can cause your mind to get a bit distracted.

  8. Tyron Janse van Vuuren Reply

    And use the 90 min / 20 minute rule!

    Your productivity and focus increase dramatically when you work for 90 minutes, then take a break for 20 minutes.

    Apparently this syncs with your body’s natural Ultradian rhythms.

    Nice post, Jake!

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