4 tips to create a low-cost study space in your home

The last few years have made a lot of us ask more of our homes. Not only do we want somewhere to keep all of our stuff and go to sleep at night, but now we’d also like some space where we could work or even study without needing to leave the house.

It’s a simple fact that working and/or studying at home saves you precious commute time that you can spend on the things that you want to do. While it’s unlikely that you have a spare room just floating around in your house (and if you do, why are you reading this? Chuck a desk in it and get cracking!), there are plenty of ways to claim or rearrange existing space to create a room, or at least a space, of one’s own.

1. Consider the physical layout of your home

No two houses are the same. Even if they have the same floorplan, different families live their lives in different ways, and only you can know what spaces might actually be viable to work or study in. Look critically at the physical separation of space in your home and ask yourself where you could create your own space. Where could you comfortably work? Where is there a reasonable space for you and the work that you do? There are other considerations as well. For example, can you hear the doorbell or landline phone in a certain room? Do you need to, or is that likely to be a distraction? Once you’ve worked out a few spaces in your place that could feasibly become ‘your’ space, it’s time to consider…

2. Think about the tools of your trade

You need to consider what you need to get your work done. If you just need a laptop and a power point, it’s going to be much easier for you to manage than if you need a printer, shredder, scanner etc. While a lot of these devices can be connected to a network and used wirelessly, which means that they don’t need to be in the same room as you all the time, you need to make sure that you have a strong enough router to connect them all reliably, as well as enough power points to keep it all going. Also, spending half of your life walking from room to room gathering those bits and pieces isn’t a good or efficient use of your time, so try and make sure you pick somewhere where you can fit the tools that make your life easier so that you can work efficiently as well as effectively.

3. Think about how your home is used throughout the day

So now you know what spaces are available to you and what tools you need to do your work. Are you an early riser or more of a night owl? A bit of both? Regardless of when or how you work, chances are that your house is used in different ways as the day wears on. This might mean finding different areas of your house to work/study in for different times of the day. Depending on how your house works this might not be an issue, but if you need music blaring to get into the groove and you don’t like headphones, you might need to make sure that your space is away from the bedrooms where people are trying to sleep.

You also need to be honest with yourself about the kind of work that you’re doing and how long you’ll be doing it for. A space that’s for a few hours of study a few nights a week is going to look very different to a home office where you’re doing eight-hour days. The longer you’re going to be working, the more comfortable and ergonomic that space needs to be. It’s important that you don’t lie to yourself and think that you can do huge hours while sat in a cramped cupboard space. If you can’t be comfortable, you can’t work well.

4. Don’t be afraid to mix it up

If you have kids or a partner who works out of the house and comes home before you’re done with your own work or study, don’t be afraid to mix it up if you can. If you’re happy working at the kitchen table when you’re home alone, do it. You might just need to be honest with yourself (and the other people in your house) if you then need to move to another room to not be disturbed. If this is your situation, don’t be afraid to let people know what you need from them. Ultimately the goal is making sure that you do what you need to get done, and it’s not going to take all day.

A lot of taking ownership of space in your living space is about knowing what you need and being willing to express your needs. But learning to be honest with your own reality and work within the constraints of your own household will not only help keep everyone happy but also keep you honest about how you work. At the end of the day, it’s about making sure that you’re in a space where you can be happy and productive without feeling like you’re doing it by compromising anyone else’s goals.

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