Being a media professional means spending a great deal of time in front of a computer screen. Because of this, a good home office set up is imperative to the success of a media professional. But what should be included in this home office? That depends greatly on what you do, and how much you do it. This article focuses on the home office for writers, but can easily be translated to that of other media professions.
Desk: This is the anchor of your home office and should reflect your personal style. Having said that, if your personal style is messy and disorganized you might want to start changing a few habits. A messy desk leads to decreased productivity and shorter attention spans. When looking for a desk try to find something that looks appropriate in your home office. If you have a large room do not buy a tiny little corner desk, and if you are just turning a corner of your living room into an office do not buy a palatial executive desk. Get a desk that can comfortably hold your computer and any accessories you use while still giving you some room to stretch out and relax. You would really be surprised at how much desk you can get at big box stores like Wal-mart and Target for relatively little money.
Computer: Once you have the desk figured out, you need to decide how your computer will work in relation to home office. A large portion of writers and media professionals use laptops for everyday computing, but these can look underwhelming on a large desk. I prefer to use an external monitor for my laptop while in my home office. On the down side this means I have to bring more accoutrements like wires, a mouse, and a keyboard; however it vastly increases the screen real-estate I have at my disposal. I can either opt for maximum screen space and work with both the laptop screen and external monitor, or go for the sleep look of only one monitor connected (discretely) to a laptop.
A warning for those running an external monitor off a laptop; buy a laptop-cooling pad. They are cheap, most run off a USB port on a computer, and most importantly they keep your laptop from over heating and breaking. If you use an external monitor with the laptop open you may be safe without a cooling pad, but if you close the laptop and run an external monitor you run the risk of overheating.
Chair: No home office is complete without a comfortable chair to sit in. If you are a freelance writer, there is a chance you spend upwards of eight hours a day sitting at your desk and therefore deserve a nice seat. Even if you have a relatively small desk, there is no reason why you should not use a large comfortable chair. If you are uncomfortable while working you will get less done and end the day in pain.
Decoration: Your home office should be clean, but not barren. I like to keep a small plant on my desk and a few larger plants throughout the room. It also never hurts to have a few framed pictures on the walls. Be careful when decorating, too little and you will feel like you are in prison cell, too much decoration and you are bound to get distracted from your work. If you find yourself getting distracted remove the distracting items and see if you get more work done.
Accessories: A good pair of computer speakers will do wonders for your home office. Playing music while working can relax you thus increase productivity. Just be cautious to not let a good sound system tempt you into watching online videos for hours on end when you should be working.
If you are using a laptop you may benefit from a wireless mouse and keyboard, or at least an external mouse and keyboard. These will let you sit back from the computer and are the only way to interface with the device if you are using an external display with the computer closed. Laptop users should also look into adding a multi-port USB hub to their home office. This will expand the amount devices you can plug into your computer, making room for external hard drives, synching devices, and running more hardware.
Some writers and media professionals like to outfit their home office with a USB monitor. This not only opens up more screen real estate but also does not tax your computer’s graphics card. These small, seven-inch screens can be used to keep IM, Photoshop palates, and research out of the way but still easily seen.