Working from home has come a long way and got a big boost since the Covid 19 pandemic started. Whether you are a work from home veteran or new at it, here are some ideas and tips to make your working area professional, but also a comfortable and fun place that will give a big boost to your productivity and your mood.
If you don’t have a spare room to set up your office, don’t worry. Today an office can be as small as a laptop, a small desk, and a little shelf. Some people go even further and use a portable lap desk and their MacBook or pc. It is important that you like the space and enjoy spending time there. Maybe it has a nice view or is the quietest spot in the house. Walk around and see which part of your house makes you want to linger and keep in mind, especially if you are living with others, that you can be undisturbed when working. In Hawaii, your options are even greater! How about a covered lanai with a view that will make you want to stay put?
Light and Color
Colors affect us on many levels. The right hue can make you perk up, another may relax you so much, that you feel it is naptime, rather than getting some work done. Light colors, blues, greens, and gentle yellows are soothing, at the same time help us to focus. Beige, off white and other neutral shades, can do the same. Try to find a spot that has natural light most of the time. If you cannot set up near a window, then pick a good lamp. There are dimmable lamps that you can adjust to your needs or desk-lamps with special daylight bulbs. For every type of work there definitely is a lamp available!
Ergonomic furniture that supports your body correctly and comfortably is a must. You’ll be spending much time in it and this is not the place to cut corners. Invest in a great chair and check out the different options for desks. Some of the latest models are flexible, hydraulic desks that you can change from a seated desk to a stand-up desk with the push of a button.
How you decorate your workspace is very personal and there is not really a right or wrong. Except for clutter. Avoid clutter. Always. Keep your space tidy and clean no matter if you go with a minimalist theme or enjoy a more opulent décor. The home organizing Queen Marie Kondo has a simple way to eliminate the must keeps from the things you can let go by asking yourself: “Does this bring me joy?” If it doesn’t or if the feeling is neutral, then put the item in another part of the house or donate it.
Your needs depend on the type of work you do and on your aesthetic sense. Do not underestimate the latter. A workplace that is merely functional without any personal touches or attributes that resonate with you, will not make you happy in the long term and have a negative impact on your productivity. Consider indoor plants. Living plants lift the energy in a room and help to clean the air.
Use bins, trays, shelves, or even colored jars to organize all the little things that you’ll have around when working from home. From pens, to staples and stamps, make sure everything has a dedicated place. Color code binders and files. There are endless creative ways and if you need more ideas there is a plethora you can find online.
Cables can be annoying and once you have your computer, monitor, printer, phone charger, etc. hooked up together with a lamp and perhaps a tv or radio, you’re likely to find a jungle under your desk. Try to go wireless as many items as possible and use cable organizers to tame the rest. Coordinate colors and materials. The key is to find the right balance between function and beauty.
You won’t be able to avoid all distractions. Let’s hope you don’t have to deal with street noise or neighbor’s new construction, barking dogs, etc. In your home, make it clear to your family or co-habitants that once you enter your office space you are at work and cannot be disrupted, only in case of a real emergency. If you have a door you can close even better! Wireless, noise-canceling headphones with the sounds or music of your choice are a lifesaver at times. Connect them via Bluetooth to your phone and when a call comes in, the background sounds will pause then restart seamlessly once you are done.
More challenging are the distractions that we create ourselves when working from home. Random thoughts about doing laundry or planting something new in the garden, taking the dog for an especially long walk, baking that favorite cake, or starting a home improvement project help to procrastinate. Set yourself a schedule, as if you were going to a “real” external office but break up the time with little breaks for exercise, snacks, and an inner “reboot”.
Home offices have become the new norm for many of us. The advantages are great and while there may be a few challenges it can be the most rewarding way of working. Just imagine all the commuting time you are saving, the costs for gas, expensive lattes, and the wear on your clothes and shoes. Find out what your needs are, get creative, and do your best work ever without having to leave the comfort of your home. And yes, that cat on your lap will thank you too!