Consider the light

Home Office Lighting  (and the rest of the house as well!)

In conjunction with an adequate desk, comfortable chair and an organized file cabinet, which are all important to a functional office, proper lighting protects your eyes. Illumination, or lack thereof, has a major impact on your health and productivity.

You need to be comfortable to maintain productivity while you work at your desk. There are enough demands and distractions that compete for energy and concentration without straining to see the work in front of you. Seeing should be effortless and automatic, yet proper lighting is frequently neglected. Using three-way bulbs and dimmer switches expand the possibilities from ambient lighting to full-blown illumination. Make every effort to avoid using harsh fluorescent bulbs which drain your vision and trigger migraines. Dim lighting is just as bad; it causes eye strain, and a dark office is depressing.

To reduce eyestrain and fatigue, we need to optimize lighting levels directly on our work.

So… unless you thrive in the dark, you will need adequate light in the home office. This is accomplished with a combination of fixtures that provide moderately bright, uniform lighting and lamps that provide focused or “task” lighting. Task lamps give the user control over brightness of the immediate work surface. In contrast, overhead lighting diffuses light all over the room causing shadows, glare and uneven light that stress vision.

Computers create additional lighting complexities. Monitors work best with lower ambient light levels that prevent glare. Higher light levels are best for reading books and other documents. Often people work simultaneously with paper documents and a monitor. The solution is to lower the overhead lights to prevent glare on the monitor and use task lights directly on the paper documents.

Lighting isn’t just about function, it is also about eye comfort. LED task lamps are best. They are brighter, last longer, energy efficient and instant on.

Once you have set up your office lighting fixtures, sit down at the desk to assess the situation.

  • Is light bouncing off the computer monitor?
  • Are you illuminating the whole room yet putting yourself in a position to work within shadows at your desk?
  • Do you have enough natural light?

January’s challenge has focused on organizing a home office. And, yes, proper lighting makes a huge difference in productivity, energy and mood.

Here are a different types of lighting to use:

  1. Natural:  Consider the available natural light. If you are lucky enough to have a sunny window, place your desk nearby, or if there are no distractions, facing it. There’s something to be said for gazing out of a window periodically to refocus your eyes after staring at the computer or paper documents.
  2. Overhead:  Lighting from above can be inadequate. However, in combination with other light sources, an overhead light does a good job at filling in the places small lamps don’t cover.
  3. Task:  A focused light source directly on documents you are reading is essential to avoid eye strain. Word of advice, if you choose only one of these lighting options, go for a task light.
  4. AmbientQuiet subdued lighting is a great stress reliever. Ambient light fills the area with a soothing glow, for a warmer, more comfortable atmosphere.
  5. Corrective:  Eye strain and migraines are two common ailments that come with working at a computer. Corrective light, placed behind a monitor can help ease the bright glare emanating from the screen. It is a good idea to combine corrective light with ambient light. You can also try (free) which lowers the brightness of the screen. It makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day–warm at night and like sunlight during the day.

Here’s a task lamp that is totally awesome from Amazon. Charge it and have it available when the power goes out or for backyard lighting or camping trips. Check it out:

  • Get 70+ hours of solar lantern light off one full charge with 3 levels of lighting–low, normal and turbo modes.
  • Built-in solar panel and detachable stand makes stashing it just about anywhere simple and easy.
  • Lightweight yet rugged, compact design is perfect for camping, backpacking, emergency survival kits, or anyone on the go.
  • Resistant to water and a rough and tumble lifestyle.
  • Backed with a 2 year warranty.


Next week I will blog on the potential of a paperless (or just less paper) office. Come back for more ideas of getting and keeping your home office organized.

How are you doing with the home office organizing project? Leave a comment below.



Please share this post with your family and friends. Sharing is caring!