Category: Set Up Your Home Office

If you are looking for a printer that is capable of printing everything from documents, email and web pages to photos and can copy and scan too, the HP Envy 4520 Wireless All-in-One Photo Printer will fit the bill without breaking the bank.

I have this printer in my office and love it.  It’s nothing fancy but it is a little workhorse and suites my needs just fine.

The HP Envy 4520 is a multifunction inkjet printer.  I say multifunction instead of all in one because it does not have fax capabilities.  Of course with online fax services available that’s not really a big issue.  But what it does do, it does very well.

 

Printing

The main thing you need a printer to do is print.  And depending on what you want to print determines whether or not you’ll like this printer.  It does great with documents.  Printing at a rate of 9.5 ppm for black and white is pretty good for me.  I’m using it to print basic documents most of the time and that usually works out just fine.

It prints color documents at a rate of 6.8 ppm.  Color documents print well.  It can do borderless pictures too.  I have noticed lines in the colors when printing photos on the default setting so make sure you adjust the settings to best quality when printing images.

It prints several sizes and weights of paper; I have a medium sized happy planner which is 7”x9 ¼” (not a default choice for the printer) and I like to print my own planner pages on cover stock paper.  With the proper settings adjusted it prints those pages even in duplex just fine.

 

Copying & Scanning

The HP Envy 4520 doesn’t have an auto document feeder for scanning.  You’ll have to scan pages one at a time by lifting the lid and placing the paper on the glass.  If you don’t have a lot of copying/scanning to do it’s not a problem.  On the plus side, that makes the printer a little bit smaller which is great for a home office.

The copies come out clear.  You can read the small letters on the page and lines appear smooth.  But if you compare your copy to the original you can see a small difference in the clarity.

Scanned images on the computer are clear as well, in fact, my OCR software can detect the text easily.  If you run OCR on your scanned documents before you save them they will be searchable on your computer, and with pdf software you can edit them and create different versions.

 

Ink Cartridges

It uses HP 63 Black and HP 63 Tri-Color ink cartridges.  These cartridges are comparably priced with other ink cartridges.  Print yield for the average size cartridges are 190 pages for black and 165 pages for tri-color.  The HP 63 XL versions yield 480 black and 330 tri-color.  So which should you choose?  That depends on how often you print.  The ink in inkjet printers have a tendency to dry up if you don’t use them often. So if you don’t print on at least a weekly basis, you’re probably not going to get the full page yield from your ink cartridges.  So your best choice would be the average cartridges vs the XL because you’ll be losing less page yield.

HP Instant Ink

HP now offers a service with some of their printers that will send you ink as needed for a monthly fee.  The printer connects with HP wirelessly and alerts them when ink is getting to a certain level and they automatically mail you out replacement cartridges.

I’ve heard different opinions on this service.  Some like it, some don’t.  As for me, I like it.  I’m notorious for realizing I need ink right in the middle of a project.  In theory, I should have a backup cartridge all the time, but like I said, in theory.  Reality is that it usually doesn’t happen.  So letting HP do that for me has saved me time and unnecessary trips to the office supply store.

Price wise it works out better for me too.  I don’t know that it’s actually 50% like they say it can be but I know that can vary based on usage. There are different plans to choose.  I went with the lowest one and haven’t had any problems with it.

 

Connectivity

The Envy 4520 connects wirelessly with an 802.11b/g/n connection to your router.  Mobile printing capabilities allow you to connect and print from basically any wireless device.  I have printed from my phone, my laptop, and my desktop computer all with ease.  This is also how HP keeps the printer’s software up to date and detects ink usage if you opted for the HP Instant Ink service.

Setup is a breeze.  Just follow the included quick start guide and you’ll be good to go.

 

Dimensions

The HP Envy 4520 measures roughly 5 inches high by 17 ½ inches wide by 15 inches deep which fits neatly on most any shelf or desk with room to easily open the copy lid. It only weighs about 14 pounds.

The 100-sheet input tray pulls out from the bottom of the printer and has adjustable sliders to feed different sizes of paper through straight.  It has guidelines for some of the popular media sizes like letter, A4, and envelopes.

When you print, a little bar extends above the input tray to hold your printed pages.  After you’re done you can just tuck it back in while not in use.

Consumer Ratings

It’s got pretty good reviews rating an impressive 4 out of 5 stars.

PROs

On the plus side, people who own this printer have commented that it is ENERGY STAR power saving, easy to set up, has very good print quality, and the monitoring it does of itself is very customizable.

CONs

On the negative side, people who own this printer have commented that the software comes with a lot of bloat ware, that the monitoring can be intrusive if you don’t adjust the settings, and that it tends to jam particularly when printing envelopes.

 

Price

The HP ENVY 4520 All-in-One Printer is a reasonably priced printer.  With a little smart shopping you can pick one up for under $75.  Not bad for a little workhorse like this.

Check the current price on Amazon or at Walmart.

Conclusion

 

The HP ENVY 4520 All-in-One Printer is a good choice for a small office, home office, or personal use.  Here’s a quick recap of some of the most appealing features:

  • Print, copy, scan, photo, wireless
  • Print speed ISO: Up to 9.5 ppm (black), up to 6.8 ppm (color)
  • Auto duplex printing; Scan to email; Borderless printing
  • Comes with HP Instant Ink Ready Cartridges

 

These are some nice features for such a reasonably priced and compact printer.  Just as a reminder when you buy any printer, it will include the power cord of course but they usually don’t come with the USB connection cable so if you don’t already have one you can pick one up here.



Virtual office space can offer the perfect solution to working from home and having a professional presence in the business world.  So what exactly is virtual office space?  And what are the benefits?

Let’s take a look at some of the different terms floating around out there and what they mean.

Virtual Office

A virtual office is a collection of online tools and software that allow someone to conduct business at any location and still have some of the advantages that come with a dedicated physical location.  Things like cloud storage, online versions of software, and video calling allow users from all over the world to work together practically the same as if they were in the same building.

Cloud storage allows you to save files, documents, pictures, etc. on a server that you can login to from anywhere with an internet connection.

My favorite cloud storage solution is Google Drive.  If you have a Gmail account, you already have it available to you for free.  They do offer a paid version that gives you more storage and other services (more on that later).

Online software is also available to you from anywhere.  Some of the major players in business software are definitely on this band wagon.  Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Cloud, and Intuit’s QuickBooks all have online versions available.  Each of these companies offer subscriptions, so you will always have the most current version at your disposal.   That feature is nice.  Don’t you just hate when you shell out your hard earned money for software only to find out there is a new version available by the time you get used to using it?  I know I do.

You’ve probably heard of Skype, but today there are lots of video call or video conference apps and services available now.  You can meet with clients “virtually” anytime anywhere.

Virtual Office Space

Virtual Office Space offers a physical address and some of the advantages that go with that to a business that operates mainly online.

You can have a mailing address practically anywhere you want it.  You can rent PO boxes or Suites for your physical mail and to list as your business address.  When you work from home this is a great alternative if you don’t want to put your personal address out there for anyone and everyone.  Some people will not respect your personal time and space.  This allows you to keep your business and personal mail separate.  Some services will even (at your request) open your mail, scan it, and upload it to cloud storage and then shred the actual paper copy for you.

Think about this.  If you were to look at two different businesses that offer the exact same service in the exact same area for the exact same price, but only one of them lists a physical address on their website, which would you choose?

An answering service gives you separation between your personal phone number and your business.  You could get just a separate number that forwards to your phone or one that provides a receptionist to answer your calls and take messages.

Executive Suite

Executive suites are physical offices or conference rooms available for use.  You can rent space for long term use or on an as needed basis.  This can come in handy if you need somewhere to setup your office other than home or if you need somewhere to meet your clients besides the local coffee shop.  There is a level of trust and professionalism that people associate with having a dedicated physical location.  These can come with onsite amenities, like office equipment, a receptionist, a waiting room, etc.

No doubt that working from home can drastically reduce your overhead.    And a virtual office space may be just the ticket to move your business to the next level without taking on a lot of extra expenses.

Hopefully you found this helpful and maybe I even showed you some options that you didn’t know were available.  So do you use any of these virtual office tools or services? Or maybe know of some that I didn’t mention?  I’d love to hear about it.  Please share in the comments below.

To Your Continued Success,

 

 

 

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Coaster Fine Furniture 800800 Executive Desk with Computer Storage

One of the first things to come to mind when you think about furnishing your home office is a desk.  A word of advice, take your time choosing one.  It should be functional, aesthetically pleasing, and suited to the space it will occupy.  Prices will vary depending on what you need/want.  But remember, this is a long term investment in your business and it will have a direct effect on your ability to work efficiently.

Let’s go over some of the things you’ll want to consider to make the best decision for you and your office space.

 

Aesthetics –

All though function and price are important, you’ll be spending a good bit of your time at this desk.  Studies show that you will be more efficient working in an environment that you find comfortable in.   Your desk should coordinate with the décor of the room it lives in.

There’s no one right answer for everyone here.  What is the vibe you want your office to put off?  If you have a modern more elegant style, a desk with a tempered glass top would fit in nicely, maybe even with shiny metal finishings.   But if you’re more drawn to a classic sophisticated atmosphere go for a wooden executive style desk.

Will you be meeting with clients in your office?  Just imagine their reaction when they walk in your office and see that rich mahogany desk front and center in the room.  They’ll see you as the successful professional you are (who happens to be fortunate enough to work from the comfort of your own home).

 

Price –

I know there are a lot of expenses involved in setting up your home office space, and furniture can be a whopper.  Just keep in mind that your desk is a long term investment in your business (not to mention deductible).   It is something you won’t have to replace often (if ever) especially if you go with a quality one in the first place.

Whether you decide on a built in unit, an L-shaped desk, or an executive style stand-alone desk, consider the quality of the materials it is made with.   If you choose a sturdy piece of furniture, it will last a very long time.

Oh and don’t be afraid to check out some second hand options.  A good desk can last for many many years. Look into auctions, second hand stores, or classified ads.  You just may find a gem at a very reasonable price.  Lucky you!

 

Function  –

The type of work you will be doing and the tools you need to do it with will be a key consideration when choosing a desk.  Consider these areas when picking out your desk.

Ergonimics –

Like I said earlier, you’ll spend a lot of your time at this desk.  So make sure it’s comfortable to sit at.  You’ll want a quality chair too but that’s a whole other post (coming soon). A good ergonomic desk will keep your joints at right angles. Some desks come with adjustable legs, if yours doesn’t you can get them separate if needed.

 

Desktop space –

Make sure the top of your desk is long enough and deep enough to suit your needs.  I know a lot of people have gone digital with everything and that’s great if that works for you.  I’m not quite there yet, not sure if I ever will be.   I like working with physical documents.  It makes things seem more real to me if that makes any sense.  There’s something about the tactical experience with paper and pencil that tends to keep me more focused and productive.  Anybody else feel this way?  Also, I find that I retain information better when I write them down on paper vs type them on a computer.

 

Cord Management –

Inevitably you will have things on your desk that need plugged in.  Monitor, light, printer, etc.  Cord ports are awesome!  You can just feed the cords through that little whole in your desk and keep them out of your way.

 

If you don’t have cord ports, I saw a little trick that works out great to control the cord monsters.  I ran across a YouTube video that showed several uses for binder clips and one of them was cord management.  You feed the cords through the handles on a binder clip and attach it to the back of your desk.  Boom! Make shift cord port!  I love little tips like this.

Keyboard/Mouse Tray –
You might want a keyboard tray.  Having a space to tuck away the keyboard when it’s not in use is so handy.  Besides, it’s more comfortable to type with the keyboard at a slightly lower level than the desktop.  Make sure it’s big enough to hold the mouse too.

Monitor Mount –
Some desks are designed with a little shelf for the monitor to sit on.  My advice, get an articulating monitor arm or wall mount.  Your monitor doesn’t have to take up precious desktop surface area.  Have dual monitors? Get one that is designed to hold two monitors, yep they make them.

Storage –
If you keep physical files at all you’ll want a drawer for them in or at least near your desk.  I know some people like the sleek look of a tabletop style desk with no drawers and that’s fine if that’s what you prefer.  Just remember that you need a place to keep all of your office supplies.  I like to have my supplies within arm’s reach but out of site when not in use. So a desk with at least a couple drawers would be my first choice.  I love it when everything has a place it belongs, don’t you?

Drawers –
And while we’re talking about drawers, a quality desk will usually have deep drawers mounted on rails that slide in and out on ball bearings. If yours doesn’t, you can rub a little paraffin wax on the bottom of the drawer and in the slot where the drawer goes to make it slide in and out smoother.  Don’t worry, it won’t hurt your wooden desk.

I hope this helps guide you to find the perfect desk for your home office.  Look around a little before picking one out, it will be the hub of your home office and should suit you to a tee.

Have a picture in your mind of the perfect home office desk?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

To Your Continued Success,

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5 Things To Consider When Designing Your Home Office

home-office-569359_1920Having a home office area of some sort is a necessity for most of us. Since it’s going to be in your home, it should suit your own style as well as be functional.

You’ll be more inclined to spend time in a space that feels personalized and comfortable. Planning out what you need and what you have to work with before you start will make this process so much easier, not to mention more enjoyable. Let’s get started!

5 things to consider to when designing your home office

  • Who will be using it?
  • What type of work will be done in it?
  • How much time will be spent in it?
  • How much space do you need?
  • What area of your home will it be in?

Who will be using it?

So who is going to be working the most in this home office? A parent with small children? A student? A retiree earning a little extra money from home? Each of these people will have different needs.

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A parent of small children, for example, may only need a place to pay bills and keep track of papers (legal documents, medical records, schedules,). You wouldn’t need a lot of space and you wouldn’t spend a ton of time in it. But you’d probably still want to be in the line of sight of the kiddos. So a small cabinet in the kitchen or a table and file drawer in the living room may work just fine.

If you’re a student, at any age, you’re going to need a place to study and a computer. That could be as simple as a small desk in your room with a cup to keep pens and pencils in.

Or picture a retiree, someone who has their own house, the kids are grown and moved out. So here you are with extra space and some free time on your hands. You could dedicate a whole room to being your home office. Lucky You! I can see a desk, a filing cabinet, a printer shelf, whatever your little heart desires. Paint the walls a color that you like, pick up some coordinating accessories and you’re all set.

What type of work will be done in it?

Think about what you’re going to use it for. Running a full time business from home will likely take more space than just a spot corral the monthly bills would require. Do you need privacy for sensitive information? Do you need a quiet space to make conference calls? What type of work you want to do in your office will determine a lot

How much time will be spent in it?

If you’re just spending an hour or so a week to update the budget and plan the weekend, you probably don’t want to clockdevote a lot of real estate or capital into an “official place” to do that from. In fact, now that cell phones have evolved into mini hand held computers you can usually do those things on the fly from anywhere. Technology, ain’t it great?!

How much space do you need?

A lot of work from home jobs require nothing more than a computer and internet connection. But it really depends on your vocation of choice. As an independent bookkeeper, some clients prefer that I keep their files for them until the end of the year. Each of these needs its own secure space.

Think about the stuff you need in your office. How much equipment do you require? Will you be meeting with clients? Do you need a large filing cabinet? All of these things require square footage.

What area of your home will it be in?

What room you set up your home office in is completely up to you. For privacy or quiet, a corner of the bedroom might work well. Need to be able to keep an eye on the kiddos? Or if you just want a convenient spot to keep papers and pay bills, maybe the kitchen or living room is best. If you’re fortunate enough to have a whole room to dedicate as the office, this is gonna be fun!

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Once you’ve decided where it’s going to be located, let’s look at how much room you have. Square footage will help narrow down your choices. How much space do you really need?

Now that you have a pretty good idea of what you need, we can move on to actually designing your home office. Have fun with it!

In upcoming articles we’ll go over some of the specifics such as space saving designs or incorporating into your available space without sticking out like a sore thumb.

To Your Success!

Barb,

Set yourself up for success by creating a functional and comfortable place to work.  It can be a small corner in the kitchen or its own room but it needs to be a space dedicated to the purpose of your business activities.