Small Home Office Mistakes: What’s Wrong Here?

Small home office mistakes pop up on the internet despite the best of intentions.

This photo appeared in an online article on small home office ideas for the do-it-yourselfer. I came to a complete stop when I saw this picture. This home office is attractive but its set-up and layout needs some serious re-thinking.

spot the small home office mistakes - home office with television, bad chair, poor lighting and too many knick-knacks.

Can you spot the small home office mistakes?

What’s wrong with this home office? Let me count the ways:

  • The most glaring small home office mistake is the television on the wall with a comfortable chair opposite. With flat screen TV’s tumbling in price a small television for the home office fits more and more budgets. Don’t be tempted. If you think you can work with the TV on “in the background” you are mistaken. Part of your brain will be tuned in to the words, and if you’re like me your eyes will keep going to the moving images on the screen.

There is neuroscience to this. Your brain is constantly scanning the background for noises or movements that are different. These can signal either prey or predator: your lunch or something that wants you for lunch. This is hardwired in your brain as a protective mechanism and you cannot turn it off. Yes, you will be able to work with the TV on “in the background” but you will not be able to work nearly as effectively. If you are working with words, reading or writing, words that you hear from the television will sneak into your conscious thinking and you will need to edit them out from your mental flow when reading and literally edit them out of your written material. If you are working with data, the words will still intrude and you will need to refocus and find where you left off, just as you would with any distraction. And distractions are the major cause of poor productivity not matter where you work.

People complain about noisy distractions in the corporate office. Are you going to duplicate that in your home office with a television?

With a television in your home office you will get less work done in more time, guaranteed.

What other things are wrong with this home office:

  • Props for the comfortable upholstered chair – a home office with a chair for reading and thinking gets bonus points. But this home office gets minus points for lack of a good lamp nearby, along with a small table to your coffee cup or iced tea and your papers, which would make it really functional.
  • This is another example of a home office shown without a cable, cord or even computer in sight. What kind of work is going on here? Even in our wireless world we need to connect and recharge somewhere.
  • The desk is at an artistic angle with your back to the door. In this kind of exposed home office it is reproducing the worst of the corporate cubicle in your home.
  • This home office lacks a door or buffer between it and the rest of the house. This means more noise and distractions.
    The wire chair is attractive, but it is not ergonomic and is not even comfortable.
  • The occlusive desk lamp creates circles of bright light on the desktop and the rest of the room is in darkness. (Think of cloudy days or working during the shorter days of winter when it gets dark early.)
  • The book cases are too big for the space and too cluttered with decorative tchotchkes (knick-knacks).

What other mistakes do you see? How would you improve this home office? I would love to see your ideas. Add them to the comments below.

Click on these links to learn how to avoid these mistakes:

File with style
Mobile file that will slide under this desk
How to buy a desk chair: the sit test
A book case more in scale with this home office space

Avoid small home office mistakes with The Smarter Home Office: 8 Simple Steps to Improve Your Income, Inspiration and Comfort. Available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.

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