How to transform your pandemic home office like a pro on a budget

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The work from home gig has lasted much longer than many anticipated, so those last minute makeshift home offices are just not working for some.

Many Americans are working from home in a space that isn't ideal for actual work. If you are trying to figure out how to separate your office from your kids' playroom or your gym, you're not alone.

A study by Zillow found two-thirds of Americans say they are working at home from a space that's not a dedicated office. That same study found a number of people considering a move if working from home lasts, just to find a home with a good office space.

Before you start buying boxes, Just Organized professional home organizer Taya Wright says if you don't have a great office space already in your home, consider a mobile office.

"And for that all you need is things you can find around your house, possibly like a cart on wheels, a large storage bin... and even a cardboard box if that's all you have," Wright said.

Wright says to opt for closed storage to help you keep your office both organized and comforting to step into.

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If you feel like you're getting stuck working longer hours from home, a "fake commute" might help you separate your work day from your personal life.

"That's really just anything that allows you, like closed cabinets, you know, baskets that you can't see through. So that it houses and contains all of the items that you need. They are there within arm's reach, but at the same time, it gives you a nice clean, clutter-free area," Wright said.

If you're working from home, you might be wondering if you can claim a federal income tax deduction for home office expenses.

As things currently stand, the answer is no, unless you're self-employed.

With pandemic self-employed workers, there are a variety of new expenses that can be deductible if you keep a good record, like the internet, cell phone service and even some car expenses.

Wright's biggest piece of advice is to shop your home.

"We have these home offices that we rarely used before, and they were home offices slash kind of catch-all places where we just tossed or store things," she said.

But before you think about uprooting your entire life for one room, follow some budget-friendly advice to help you transform any room into your dream office, at little to no cost.

"First thing, shop your house. You know, we all kind of have those decorating stashes, the extra art and extra pillows, those things you have that you aren't using at the time. Shop there first," Wright said.

Ways to shop your house:
  • Rearrange furniture to give you a new feel
  • Move artwork to different rooms, changing your wall space
  • Shop from your guest room, reusing items that are just collecting dust

Most importantly Wright says you should keep it cheap and simple.

There is no need to go out and buy a bunch of things that will only create clutter. She says how your office looks matters.

"Whether we recognize it or not, visual clutter does affect us quite a bit," Wright said. "When you are talking with someone and communicating, having a meeting on Zoom, you really want the focus to be on you and what it is you're saying, not what's in the background."

Wright says there are three items you should put in your home office to replicate that actual office feel.
  1. Something official that reminds you of your professional achievements. She recommends the framed diploma you often see hanging in people's offices.
  2. Your company slogan, something to remind you and invoke the feeling of your professional purpose.
  3. Finally, a picture of your family. This would likely be in your real office, and it's a reminder of your motivation: Why you go to work and who you are working to provide for.

Follow Brhe Berry on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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First things first, know that you're doing a great job! Here is more advice from a child psychologist on why you should go easy on yourself.

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