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Personalize your home office

Almost everyone has a home office, but almost no one has a good-looking one.

I used to hate my home office, but several years ago I had an epiphany.

I was about to order new dining room furniture. I had spent months browsing magazines and stores and was about to spend, what was for me, a large sum of money.

All of a sudden, it dawned on me: I spend more time in my office than I do in my dining room. I was about to spend thousands on a room I use once a week, yet the room where I spend every single day was a dump, a mishmash of castoff furniture, poor lighting and gray metal filing cabinets.

I went out the next day and bought myself a fabulous chair. From that point forward my home office became a priority.

I haven't always had a big budget, but I've come to realize that a good-looking, high-functioning work space is critical to my success.

It doesn't matter if no one else sees your office. You see it! You can't be effective in a room you loathe.

Here are six essentials for a home office:

*A great chair: You can't do your best work if you're perched on a 1970s steno pool stool. Your chair should not only be comfortable, it should make you feel smart and in charge. It doesn't matter what you're in charge of, when you're sitting in that chair, you rule. If you can't afford a new Aereon, check out eBay. There are bargains galore.

*A white board: This is where you write down your goals, personal, professional, or both. If they're not fully baked, don't worry about it; just write something down. When I started, all I had at the top of my white board was "successful business, happy family and world peace." Now I've added our purpose statement, revenue goals, and prospect list. Funny thing, after I started writing our goals on the board, we started hitting them.

*Art: It might seem like a splurge, but visual aesthetics matter. The way you feel when you walk into a room affects the way you perform all day long. You want something on your walls that makes you feel creative, peaceful and wonderful. If you can't afford real art, you can get a Monet poster for under 20 bucks.

*A power desk: Size matters. You need enough room for your phone and computer, with space left over to work. A friend of mine used an old door, painted it purple and put it on green sawhorses. She had plenty of space, and it worked for her creative vibe.

*An easy-to-use filing system: Nothing saps the life out of you more than an overflowing inbox. If you're a paper piler, like me, a good system is critical. I keep current customer files in verticals behind my desk, and the rest in cabinets. Also, think beyond manila folders; colored files make you feel better when you're sorting.

*Your vision board: It sounds hokey, but it works. I have a collage of inspirational quotes and images with everyone from Harriet Tubman to my grandmother. They serve as a constant reminder to bring my best self to work. When I think about the obstacles other people have had to overcome in their lives, putting in a day of hard work in my home office feels like a blessing.