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How to get the most out of your home office

Regardless of where you situate your office, it's important to cut down on surrounding distractions where possible.

Studies show that painting an office blue improves

Studies show that painting an office blue improves productivity and increases focus. Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/virtua73

These days, millions of people have the luxury of working from home. It's convenient and comfortable -- and the commute is unbeatable. But telecommuting comes with its own host of challenges. If you're dealing with distractions and a lack of space, it can be difficult to strike a balance between productivity and the creature comforts of home. Consider these tips as you design your home office to make sure you get the most out of your space.

CHOOSE YOUR SPACE WISELY

Your home office doesn't have to be in an opulent library, a hub of technology or even a room of its own. The most important thing is that its location stays consistent. Set aside a dedicated area in your home and use it exclusively for work. This could be a small desk in the living room, a table in your bedroom or a zoned-off section of the kitchen counter. Find a spot that works for you and completely give it over to its role as a workspace. And be sure to avoid working in high-traffic areas such as a kitchen table or living room couch. Otherwise, you'll find yourself constantly moving your laptop, papers and other supplies to accommodate guests.

CUT DOWN ON DISTRACTIONS

Regardless of where you situate your office, it's important to cut down on surrounding distractions where possible. One strategy is to cover visible TVs with trendy barn doors. Once they're installed, you can slide the doors over the screens and remove the temptation to watch. Another good strategy is soundproofing -- especially in offices that take up entire rooms. Curtains, window inserts and acoustic panels are quick, easy ways to cut down on outside noise so you can focus on the tasks at hand. If you need more extensive soundproofing, consider talking to a professional.

RECONSIDER COLOR

When you last painted your home, you may have chosen colors that would help you unwind at the end of a long day. Whites, beiges, greys and greens are all beautiful choices for a home with relaxation in mind. But those original, calming colors might not be the best choice for a workspace. Studies show that painting your office blue improves productivity and increases focus. And orange and yellow are great office accent colors, since they're known to invigorate the senses, inspire creativity and help with innovation. If you don't have the space (or desire) to paint an entire room, consider buying blue and orange picture frames or tchotchkes for your desk.

THINK ABOUT LIGHT

Lighting can make a huge difference in your work-from-home space. For example, red-tinted lights are good for sleep and rest, but if you have them in a home office, they can hinder productivity. Instead, opt for blue-tinted bulbs to improve alertness throughout the day. Or, go for natural light. Move your desk next to a window and open up the shades to increase your wakefulness -- and consider a skylight where more light is needed. As far as arrangement, many experts recommend having one large overhead light and one smaller "task light" to help you focus.

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