Most of us, if given half a chance, would prefer to work from the comfort of our home. And these days, as the number of self-employed people is increasing exponentially, more and more of us are making that dream a reality. And while some people can get by and do their job with a laptop at the dining room table, most of us benefit from a little planning and organization. Here are five must-have items that can help make your home office more organized and comfortable, and increase your productivity in the process.

Desk and Chair

If you are going to have to spend a great deal of time at a workstation checking emails, writing, and chatting with clients, you will stay productive and save your back with a great chair and desk combo. An ergonomic, adjustable seat, like the Knoll Generation Chair, will keep you alert and active all day long.

Additionally, you will want a desk that you are comfortable working at; more likely it will have to support your monitor or computer while enabling you to take handwritten notes as well. You may want to consider an adjustable desk that allows you to either stand or sit, too, like the Varidesk.

Good Wi-Fi

If your home business requires you to send large files, stream video, or conduct video-teleconferences, then high-speed Internet is critical. You will likely want to ensure that all of your devices–computers, phones, tablets, and printers–can connect effectively to your network. Test all areas of your house to ensure the network reaches everywhere it needs to be; if it doesn’t, you may need a range extender.

Finally, while protecting your home Internet security is important, protecting your business – and your clients’ potentially sensitive financial information – is paramount. Make certain that you have the best Internet security in place for your home business, and test and upgrade it regularly.

Lighting

Lighting is a key component of any home office. Recent studies indicate that nearly 70 percent of office workers believe that the lighting at their work is inadequate. Moreover, lighting is also tied to mood and productivity as well. So it is in your own best self-interest to ensure you have adequate lighting in your home office. For the office itself, try to select a room that has adequate natural lighting; we all benefit from a little sunlight.

Do some research, and determine the optimal artificial lighting you need for your room as well, including any reading lamps.

File Storage

Your business is inevitably going to generate a lot of files, both real as well as the virtual kind. Ensure that you have a plan to store and secure both. A good file cabinet that enables you to both secure and organize paper files is essential. Ensure that it locks effectively, and consider getting a fireproof cabinet if the documents you retain are especially important. Likewise, make a plan for data storage.

You can opt for some sort of cloud service, depending on the data you are amassing, or you could consider a stand-alone device that incorporates massive file storage with security; for example, the ioSafe SOLO G3 is a particularly good choice for secure standalone data storage.

Crosscut Shredder

Identity theft is a growing problem across the United States. One of the top ways that thieves get access to our sensitive financial information, and then use it for their own ill gain, is by digging through our trash. A good crosscut shredder in your home office can make stealing documents an impossible task.

Machines like the Ativa 17-sheet Crosscut Shredder can handle almost anything a small home office can produce. For small businesses that generate less material, a smaller model may be more appropriate. Whatever type of shredder you decide upon, make sure you maintain the awareness and discipline to use it and prevent papers with sensitive information from becoming lost or stolen.

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William Lipovsky owns the personal finance website First Quarter Finance. His most embarrassing moment was telling a Microsoft executive, "I'll just Google it."

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