Shed Some Light

If sitting at your desk all day makes you feel lousy, it may not be all the work. You probably need more light.

Fatigued? Overworked? Maybe . . . or it could be you're justunderlit. Eye strain and low productivity can be blamed on manythings, but the real culprit may be lack of good lighting. PamHorner, manager of general lighting education for Osram Sylvania, amanufacturer of lighting products based in Danvers, Massachusetts,reveals homebased business owners' most common lightingmistakes, and shows you how to avoid them:

"I've converted an existing space into a home officeand am making do with lighting fixtures originally intended forother uses." Purchase new lighting for your home officeand use a layering effect. For example, achieve a relatively lowlevel of general or "ambient" lighting with fluorescentfixtures: They won't flicker, they're cooler to operate,they last longer than incandescent sources (the kind you findthroughout your home) and they save energy. Try indirect lightingfixtures to create this ambient layer. Build a simple shelf toaccommodate a fluorescent strip light, and use fluorescenttorchieres for spaces that have no ceiling or wall access forelectrical service. Then add task lighting where needed.

"I've incorrectly placed my computers, creating aglare from windows and electric light sources." To avoidany glare or eye strain, don't place the computer monitor whereit can reflect a window, bright surface or lamp. The reflectionsmake it hard to see the screen, and your eyes are constantly tryingto adjust between the nearby text and the reflected objects faraway.

"I didn't consider my business tasks when selectingmy lighting." Always begin by identifying the mostimportant areas and visual tasks in your office. Consider eacharea: Do you frequently read sales reports at your desk? Is filingimportant? Is much of your time spent at the computer? Tasklighting helps for reading papers and working with the keyboard,and it can be installed in the form of halogen or fluorescentself-lighted bookstands, adjustable-arm desk lights orunder-cabinet lighting.

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