Working at home can be endlessly wonderful, but as anyone who has done it for any real period of time can attest, it’s a constant exercise in learning to set boundaries, figure out when and how you work best, and keep your work and home selves in a healthy balance.
One of the biggest challenges that often goes overlooked is setting up your office to be as productive as possible. Doing so goes way beyond just setting your computer up somewhere, popping your headphones on, and getting to work. Well, it can be that simple, but paying attention to the following 5 things will be sure to increase you productivity by a lot, and make your home working space a more positive place to spend time.
1. Have exclusive work zones
What’s possibly the worst way to enjoy a productive workday? Hanging out on the couch with the TV on. Or in bed with coffee. Or at the kitchen table with your 2-year-old throwing waffles at your face. I know – it’s all the work environments that sound the cutest. The point is, most people who work outside of their homes have the benefit of built in boundaries. Working at home means you have to create your own, which can be an on-going challenge. You can give yourself a definite nudge in the right direction by designating a specific space (preferably a whole room) that is a work only zone. No kids, no hanging out with friends, no interruptions. Play your music (or don’t!) or do whatever it is that gets you in the zone.
2. Organize according to work process
Take a look at how you usually structure your work process. If you’re a designer, do you often work on your computer, then head to your printer, then go to a design board? If that’s your process, set up your office space for the most fluid, easy transitions, so you’re not bouncing to all corners of the room all the time. And that’s just one example; let’s say you tend to work on your computer more in the morning, and in the morning, one window gets more light than another. Put your desk by the window that gets more light during the times you’re most likely to be at your desk. This is one of those vague tasks that requires really looking at your process, habits, and the potential and flexibility of your work space. But taking the time to consider these things will make your work day endlessly more enjoyable and more productive.
3. Prioritize and purge regularly
Even with the best intentions of having good boundaries between your home and your home office, there’s bound to be spillover. Once a week (or month – you’ll know how often you tend to need it), go through your office and remove anything that doesn’t absolutely need to be there. Your kids’ toys, your dog’s chew toy, your rain boots that somehow got thrown in there…get it all out. There’s enough that you do need in your work space, and you want to keep things as minimal and open as possible.
Speaking of minimal: no matter what your personal décor tastes are like in the rest of your life, there are certain design choices that universally make offices more conducive to getting work done. A cluttered space usually creates a cluttered mind, whereas an open, well-lit, neatly organized, and minimal environment will facilitate clear thinking, a relaxed demeanor, and in every way, foster the right mindset for getting work done. That said, your home office should still reflect you and feel like a personal place to be. From adding photos and art you like, to picking office furniture, rugs, and curtains that suit your aesthetic sensibilities, there are a ton of ways to personalize your space without sacrificing the clean simplicity that is going to benefit you.
5. Get comfy – but not too comfy
Picking the perfect office furniture is a balancing act – you want it to look great but also be comfortable, and you want it to be comfortable without relaxing you so much that you fall asleep. If you work on your computer (like the majority of home-employed people), it is vitally important to have a desk chair that is incredibly kind to your back. It doesn’t matter if you’re 25 or 55 – computer life can be physically taxing. Take care of your back.