Working from home can be both a blessing and a curse. Whilst its flexibility allows busy bodies to juggle all of their daily tasks in one place, for many being at home can be a breeding ground for distractions. Whether you’re looking to organise your space for optimal efficiency, or want to trade the shabby carpet for a new style such as wood flooring, a large portion of your day may be spent in your home office. Therefore it’s important to make sure you’re both comfortable and productive when you’re spending time in there.
1. Make sure you have your own space
The first and most important rule is to make sure you home office is actually an office. It doesn’t have to be huge, and it doesn’t have to be specially designed to be an office. Just make sure you’re somewhere reasonably quiet that you can dedicate your work to.
Although it may be very tempting to lay around on the sofa and do your work, this hinders productivity worse than anything. Get up, dressed and head to work like you would any other normal job. The only different for you is that you’ve saved time by not having to commute. Which means more time to be productive!
2. Make it light and airy
In an ideal world your home office will receive plenty of natural light, and doesn’t feel dark or dingy. Realistically for most of you though, you’ll be tucked away in a room that was going spare. This doesn’t always mean there’s less natural light but, if this is the case, there’s lots you can do to give your workspace a brightness boost.
Rearranging your space is a good place to start. Move anything that might be hindering natural light from cascading across the room. One thing to be wary of, however is any glare on your computer screen due to the added light. You don’t want to be squinting all day while you’re try to get stuff done. Consider this if you’re having a re-shuffle in your office.
If you’re considering re-decorating to make your home office more, well, “homely”, then adding a light-coloured style of wood flooring paired with a nice rug will definitely do the job. Grey wood flooring is one of the hottest trends around at the moment. It looks great, and it’s bound to make your home office feel much lighter.
3. Consider the colours
Choosing the colours for your workspace is important if you’re looking to really boost your productivity. This might sound like the kind of thing your interior designer friend always bangs on about, but stick with us.
The colour of a room can make such a difference to your mood, and it can affect your work without you even realising. So-called aggravating colours such as red or black could be considered a no-go. Find a colour that helps get the productivity flowing by promoting relaxation and happiness for you. Pastel colours work great, and they’ll also help to lighten the room alongside the advice in step 2.
4. Keep it tidy
Freeing up space on your desk means space to think as well. When your surroundings are a mess, it can be difficult to concentrate and you’ll be falling over yourself constantly. By de-cluttering your desk, you can focus on your work without constantly searching for what you need. Everything has its place and you can focus without having your progress delayed.
So what should you keep on your desk? Anything you’re using that day is okay such as your pad and pen, and folders containing current project notes – the odd sticky note is okay too, as long as you don’t go overboard! Remove any unnecessary piles of paper, empty coffee mugs and unused stationery.
This also goes for any distractions. That’s right – move your iPad, magazines, and even your mobile phone if you need to. You don’t have to take them completely out of the room, though. Even by putting them out of your sight for a short period of time, you’ll be surprised how much of a boost this can give to your productivity.
5. Bring the outside in
By this, we don’t mean planting a tree or tripping over plat pots is a good way to increase your productivity. But, by introducing a little greenery into your workspace, you can add a breath of fresh air and add something a little different.
Adding a small desk plant creates some variety and us something to look at when you need a break from staring at your screen. A bouquet of flowers works great and can make a lot of difference.
If you’re too busy to worry about maintaining flowers, try something smaller and easier to keep – a small cactus is cost-effective and works just as well as some flowers. Or, if you’re lucky enough to have a window with a view, rearrange your space so you can look out of the window from time to time.
6. Make the most of music
Some people work better with background noise and music, whereas some may find it a distraction. This is why in most offices you’ll find that playing music out loud is strictly prohibited. Luckily for you though, you work from home. You make the rules, and if you want to play music, you can do so with next to no questions asked. If you enjoy working with music, it’s a great way to boost your output.
Find a playlist that’s right for you and mix it up depending on the particular task you’re working on. If you need to be creative, find a relaxing playlist that allows you to think clearly. If you’re stuck on a monotonous task, which is sometimes unavoidable, upbeat music can help you get through it quicker. Keep your playlists saved, and use them whenever you need an extra boost to your productivity.
7. Take a break
This one’s so easily forgotten but it’s oh so important. When you’re working at home, a lot of your day can be made up of trying to avoid distractions. But, every once in a while, these distractions can provide a welcome release from the stresses of your current task.
Looking out of the window or at your new plant addition works great. It’s also important to leave your office from time to time. Even if it’s just to get a drink or a snack, you can give your creativity a real boost by leaving for 10-15 minutes and then coming back to the task you’re working on.
8. Be comfortable
Don’t think just because you’re working, it can’t be a relaxing place to spend your time. Invest in a good chair that encourages good posture, and make sure you’ll be happy sitting there for long periods of time.
In this guide we’ve mentioned making your office more “homely”, and this is all part of being comfortable in your working environment. Set a comfy if the room looks a little bare. If you’re blessed enough to have a bigger space, add a small corner chair or sofa to sit on when you need to get creative.
Investing in good quality equipment will also help you be more comfortable during your working day. Use a good ergonomic keyboard and mouse to provide extra support. You also need to make sure your monitor is at a comfortable height; the top of your monitor should be at, or just below, eye level. A morning or two spent at the doctors for wrist or neck and upper back problems is a massive hit to your productivity.
9. Invest in yourself and your work
If you’re reliant on technology to get the work done, keeping them updated means there’s less likelihood of anything failing. After all, nothings worse for your productivity than not being able to do anything.
If you’re particularly creative, consider whether having two monitors would help speed things up. Or if you work in a specialist area such as music production, would the latest software mean your work is of a higher quality?
Consider the amount of time you spend troubleshooting issues on old pieces of tech. You’d most likely be better investing in a new laptop, tablet or camera to prevent you wasting your most valuable resource; time.
10. Avoid mixing work with personal
This one is easier said than done. After all, your office is in your home. However, making sure your work and personal stuff don’t get too entwined is good practice to really stay efficient in your work.
You might use your home office to look after bills, plan family vacations, research schools for your little ones; whatever you’ve got going on at the time. That’s fine, but try to have a separate space for all of your home and personal things. Keep a boundary of where home ends and work begins – and make sure your family are aware of this boundary.
Everyone works in different ways, and not all of the steps in these guides will be applicable to your home office. Find whatever works for you and implement it.