If you turned one of your rooms into a home office in 2020 (or any other year), the good news is that the Internal Revenue Service will let you deduct business expenses — whether you’re a homeowner or a renter, in all types of homes (condominium, mobile home, single-family home, boat, apartment, etc.). The semi-bad news is that that home office must exclusively and regularly be used as a principal place for a trade or business, so don’t bother trying to claim your living room or bedroom if you’re using it for everyday activities, too.
The worst news is — whether you try to get a tax deduction or not — you may be ruining your sleeping habits by working from home, specifically if you work in your bedroom. According to CNN’s “Sleep, But Better” report, you should avoid working in your bedroom so your brain does not affiliate it with work, as opposed to sleep (or intimacy).
And unless your “work” involves being a dog boarder and/or dog caregiver, pet owners may feel a way about reading that furry animals should stay off the bed, too. Why? The noise from purring or tail wagging may disrupt sleep, along with the animal dander that triggers pet allergies.
While pen, paper and file cabinets may not be as much of an issue — although it may lead to late-night re-organizing and “only five minutes” work habits — electronics are the bigger issue in bedroom/home offices. Darkness triggers your body’s natural sleeping mechanisms. Bright lights from tablets, laptops and smartphones may confuse your body as much as sleeping with all of your lights on. (In all fairness, day nappers can fall asleep as easily in a brightly lit, sunny room with the TV blasting as they would in a dark, cool room.)
But even if the lights don’t become as much of a nuisance, work-from-home employees and entrepreneurs should definitely make the most use of “Do Not Disturb” settings on mobile devices, or consider separate devices for different purposes. Turning phones off altogether may not be an option for parents of minors, or anyone who is especially concerned about emergencies, but separating a personal line from a business line will at the very least confirm whether you’re getting late-night work emails and texts versus justifiable personal calls. (Additionally, a work phone — even a mobile phone — also falls under a tax-deductible business expense.)
Prioritizing business expenses and supplies have become an especially hot topic in 2021 after remote workers are used to walking from one room in their home to another to complete the same job — or propping their computers on a food tray and hanging out in their pajamas. Many 2020 employees are left wondering, “Why was I in an office to begin with?” and quitting altogether to stay home.
Whether you were a WFH representative pre-2020 or now, make sure your mental and physical health in your home is a priority, too. Lack of sleep contributes to an increase in work mistakes, along with diabetes, heart attacks, heart diseases, heart failure, high blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat and/or stroke. By creating a room especially for work, similar to “going to work,” this will help establish a routine for your “off the clock” hours. In turn, you may be able to get a few extra minutes (or hours) of sleep when need be.