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Blog: Working From Home
Choosing a Practical Office Desk

Your desk will undoubtedly be the largest piece of furniture in the room, and is often the first and most expensive purchase. But before you spend a lot of money on a desk, give some thought to the practical aspects of what you really need a desk to do.
Storage considerations
No matter how sleek and fashionable an office may look furnished with a table (instead of a desk with drawers), if you plan to do real work in your office, get a desk with drawers. In most cases, a table will prove to be extremely impractical in the long run. You'll find that you need and want drawers to house supplies and important files. If your desk doesn't have drawers, your supplies and paperwork have no place to go when you're not working with them. Not only is this unsightly, you won't be as efficient and effective with unfinished tasks distracting you everywhere you look.
A desk should have at least one drawer deep enough to hold hanging files. Designate this drawer for a "tickler" file where you'll keep work-in-waiting. This kind of file gets its name because it tickles you—reminds you—of upcoming tasks based on the date you plan to work on them. You drop documents, notes, reminders of all sorts into folders labeled for each day of the month. When you check them each day, they automatically trigger action and/or review when needed, relieving you of the need to think about them otherwise. Since this is a file you will refer to constantly, it should be close at hand and separated from all other files.
A second file drawer, if the desk has two, can be used for documents you refer to regularly. These might be priority projects, current customers, or administrative and financial records. To make it easy to add new files when necessary, keep a few extra hanging files and folders there.
Shallow desk drawers are ideal for frequently used office supplies. Use drawer organizers to keep things like note pads, paper clips, pens and markers from ending up in a jumble.
If you already have a table instead of a desk, you can get a rolling cabinet with file and supply drawers that you can keep alongside you while you work. At the end of the day when you close up shop you can move it elsewhere.
Computer considerations
So much work is done on computers these days there are new issues to keep in mind when choosing a desk. While you'll want a traditional 30" high surface for hand written work, for computer work you may want something different. If your monitor is at desk height and you wear bifocal eyeglasses you'll have difficulty seeing clearly without tilting your head back to get the proper angle. And if you regularly use a laptop as your primary computer, the keyboard will be at the wrong height if you place it on a traditional desk. You'll have to hunch up your shoulders to type which will give you major neck and shoulder problems before long.
If you're in either of these situations, look for a piece of furniture that's approximately 25" high—the traditional height for keyboard trays. It should be deep enough to accommodate a monitor and keyboard, or your laptop.  At this height you can hold your head at a normal angle and type in an ergonomic position with your forearms parallel to the floor. You may be able to find a 30" high desk that has a full width keyboard shelf at 25", or you may decide to attach an aftermarket pull-out keyboard tray. If you can't find the perfect setup, you may have to place your monitor on a separate 25" high piece of furniture right next to your desk/keyboard tray.

posted on: 10/3/2011 10:28:15 AM by Elaine Quinn, Author & Speaker
category: Business

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Working From Home

by Elaine Quinn, Author & Speaker

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About Elaine:

Elaine Quinn is an internationally recognized expert on organizing, time management and productivity for the work-from-home solo professional. She is the author of "There's No Place Like Working From Home," filled with tips for solopreneurs who want to get organized, stay motivated and get things done. Learn more at www.NoPlaceLikeWorkingFromHome.com.

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