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Getting the Most from your Home Office

Having a home office is a great convenience even if you don’t use it as part of your income-producing work. Many people use their home office for reading, paying bills, studying for classes, or pursuing non-profit work they are passionate about. People in the United States who want to use the home office deduction on their tax forms have to meet certain requirements in order to do so. The IRS has worksheets that help you determine if you can take the deduction and if so, how much of a deduction you can take.

Whether you want a fully-deductable home office or just want a space to pay bills, you can make a home office even in a very small space – including in a closet! If your home office is to be shared by several people, place it in a room that’s easily accessible to all users, and choose furniture and equipment that are useful to all.

If you are short on space and need to create a home office in a corner of a room, you can use wall-mounted shelving and a fold-down table to minimize the “footprint” of your home office. You can set off this part of the room with a folding screen or divider of some sort. It’s a good idea to set off the office from the rest of the house in some way, or it will fall into disuse, or be taken over by non-work projects.

Many people choose to use the closet of a spare bedroom as an office and provide a hanging wardrobe organizer for guests to use. You can wire the closet for electricity, or use extension cords or power strips (strictly according to directions) to supply power. If you choose to use the entire guest room as an office, consider replacing the bed with a sofa bed to give you extra space.

Your home office should be easily accessible and inviting, or else you’ll just end up at the kitchen table instead. It should have good lighting and comfortable, functional furniture. Plan your layout so that the items you need (phone, lamp, printer) are within reach, and make sure you plan for enough room that you can open your file cabinets all the way out.

Corner desks are great space savers and will keep your home office from looking like a boring “real” office. House plants also add to the ambience. And if you are one of those people who regularly kills house plants, today’s artificial plants are more realistic looking than ever, and add a nice touch to a home office. You should definitely invest in a good, comfortable swivel chair with rollers. Don’t just park an extra dining chair in front of your desk. They’re almost always too uncomfortable for the length of time you’ll be using them.

Having a neat home office that’s set apart from the rest of the house (even with just a screen divider) can help tremendously with organizing your work. Whether you use it for paying bills each month or as your primary office space for income, putting some thought into the layout and furnishing of your home office will allow you to get the most use and enjoyment from it.