46Suit yourself, your spouse, your students

Before you plan your home office, consider everyone who will use it. Is this space exclusive to you, or does it include a spouse and children? Think about the postures they’ll assume and the stuff they’ll want to store when they bring work home, play computer games or do homework here.

Get comfortable

Though the science of ergonomics is complex and ever-changing, you and your family can benefit from the basics. Situate desk and chair heights so that your knees, elbows and hips relax at right angles while you’re seated at the keyboard or writing area.To comfort taller or smaller family members, choose an adjustable chair, and add a footstool when needed.

Shed and shade light

Natural light can keep you alert and focused, but make sure to shield your monitor from direct rays to reduce glare.You may light the room with an overhead or floor lamp, but be sure to add a smaller, task-based light to avoid casting a dark shadow over your work.

Remember to remove clips and staples from office paper and mail you send to the recycler. These metallic bits can contaminate a batch of recycling larger than the one you’ve produced.

Anticipate technology

Make room for the tech goodies you own today, and those on your wish list. If you’ll use a wireless laptop, consider lighting and seating for multiple locations. If you’re working with a desktop model, try shelving or strapping the CPU below to save precious surface space—just don’t stow it where you’re likely to play footsie with the delicate hard drive.

Stock your shelves

Get strategic with your shelves to make room for what you’re working on right now and leave space for the personal props that inspire you: photos, post cards, finger paintings. At an arm’s length, stow pens, stapler, clips, and the few references you use daily—so you won’t have to get up to rummage for them when you’re on a roll. Use other shelves to stack extra paper, toner, envelopes and stamps—supplies that will save you a mid-project trip to the store.

Protect your peace of mind

Designate your primary work zone a sacred space. Clutter can dull your focus and wrinkle your brow.You’ll be surprised how a clean desk policy can de-stress even bill-paying.

Sort before you stash

Spare yourself a prolonged office cleanup by making quick decisions. As you encounter new papers, decide whether you’re using them this minute, this month, or in a month of Sundays. Clip, tack or prop up pieces you need now to get the job done. Use letter trays, brackets or nearby shelves to stack papers you’ll need later this month (references, articles, pending bills). Relegate nonurgent but important items (financial and health records) to your big file cabinet or deep drawers. Send sensitive information you don’t need to keep (offers that include your credit card number) right to the shredder.

Show it to know it

Prepare a pleasing and project-worthy visual aid with a chalk or marker board… a place for your running list of to-dos, your best ideas and reminders to other family members.