Nothing is more personal than the design and setup of a home office – personal in the sense that you are unique and so are your needs.
Of course, any office must be functional, so that you can be productive. But, at the same time, the way in which you arrange your space must “work” for you. It’s an exciting undertaking to be working from home, so get off to a great start.
If you are already working from home, and feeling concerned about productivity (like I do pretty much a lot), you might consider a re-design. With these 11 tips, you can create a new or transform an existing workspace into one that is positive, pleasant, comfortable, and screams of productivity.
1. Have a Design Goal in Mind
It’s important that our office is a place in which you enjoy being. That means you will want to have an overall design plan that suits your taste, your personality and your style. Do you want traditional dark woods for desk, bookshelves, or do you want something quite contemporary? Don’t buy any furniture, accessories or wall art until you have your plan in mind. Even if you don’t have the budget to completely furnish it now, you will know your plan when you begin to buy the pieces you need or want.
2. Invest in Good Lighting
The fluorescent lighting you may have become accustomed to in an office away from home does not have to be what you get now. If you have windows with natural light, lucky you! This is the best kind of lighting you could have.
However, you will need to supplement it with other light fixtures. Experiment with all of the optional lighting effects that you can have with the newer bulbs, until you find the intensity and tone that is right. And, if you have a large space, you may want different intensities in different spots. Lighting, too, is very personal.
3. Get Good Seating at Your Desk
If you cannot afford anything else right now, invest in a good supportive chair. If you cannot afford one of the newer ergonomic ones, than at least get some support for your back. If you sit most of the day, you will develop back pain, and that is really not conducive to productive work.
One other thing you might consider, if you have the space. Many people have a traditional desk at which they sit. They also have a standing desk that they use a part of the time. There is danger in sitting all day – in fact experts say we should stand up every 30 minutes or so, if only to give muscles a chance to stretch and circulation to flow more efficiently. Think about getting a standing desk for an alternative position. And if you have a laptop and Wi-Fi, you can easily move computer work over.
4. Don’t Allow Your Personal Life to Creep In
It’s so easy to do. You’ll just put a flat screen up and a game console on a shelf below it – for when you take your breaks. Then there’s that novel you are in the middle of. That will be another good activity for a break time.
Pretty soon, other personal stuff begins to creep in. You go to the mailbox and there are bills, personal bank statements, the ad folio from local businesses, and a couple of catalogues that you really like. There is also mail for your business. You walk back into the office and set everything down on your desk. You handle the business mail and get it sorted and filed or stacked correctly. Then you go back to work. Two days later, the stack of personal mail is still there and growing.
Here’s the Problem: From a psychological standpoint, you are not separating your work and your home life. When you don’t do that, it’s too easy to let your home life intrude on your work time. You’ll just listen to the noon news on TV while you work; you’ll just go ahead and get those bills paid now, as long as they are sitting there; and you’ll just check out the ad folio for restaurant coupons before throwing it away.
The Solution : Take the TV and the game console out; get the novel out too. When you get your mail, separate out the personal stuff and put it someplace else in your home. You need to have a clear psychological boundary where home ends and work begins, just as you did when you commuted to an office every day.
5. Get Furnishings that You Really Love
(some of my ideal home office spaces via Pinterest)
While it may not be financially possible to get everything you want right away, choose an item or two that you find incredible and purchase them. Perhaps it a cozy chair by the window that you can use when you need to read documents or make some return phone calls. Keep a small table by that chair in case you need to make some notes or calendar entries.
You may have fallen in love with a great ultra-modern desk, a cool ergonomic desk chair, an area rug or some window coverings. Splurge on a couple of things now if you can, so that you can see progress toward the amazing ultimate office you have planned.
From psychological standpoint, you want to want to be in your office, and the physical environment will contribute to that.
6. Wall Décor
Here is where you can really get personal and as dramatic or conservative as you want. You need to have art and other items on your walls that reflect who you are and your personality. These items add so much to the overall feel and environment of your office, you will enjoy just walking into your office in the morning.
Consider posters as a part of your wall art too. These can be motivational or inspirational if they have quotes and images that are meaningful to you.
Everyone will have different storage needs, but once you have enough for your needs, you will feel so much more “uncluttered,” and your office will actually be a cozier more pleasant place to be.
If your space is small, make use of wall space for storage, with some shelves that will match your décor plan. If the space is an extra bedroom, you are really in luck. Turn that closet into shelving and a place for file cabinets if you have to keep hard copies of records.
8. Keep Your Technology Up to Date
You have to have reliable devices. If you experience frequent issues with any of your technology, you only become frustrated and less productive. Crashes and loss of work will really impact your mood.
Even if your devices are relative new and operating well, consider a cloud storage system. Too much on your own systems just slows everything down.
Another way to enhance your technology is to think about what additional devices will help you be more productive. There are some things you will probably think about – maybe an additional monitor if you are a website or graphic designer. Don’t wait to get these things. They make your tasks easier and less time-consuming.
9. Go For Other Personal Touches That Keep You Positive
Office pets are quite common now. If you have a pooch or cat that brings you joy, put their pet bed in your office during the day.
Put some green in your environment. There is something about having living things in your surroundings that promotes a good feeling.
Photos of family members are always good. It reminds you why you are working so hard.
Keep a sketchpad or an adult coloring book nearby. Sometimes, it is those times when we are doodling or coloring that our most creative ideas can flow. If you find yourself stuck, take a break and engage in something related to your right brain.
Try to incorporate a “theme” in your office – a theme that represents what a pleasant environment is to you.
10. Privacy is Really Important – Don’t Sacrifice It
A common issue with home offices is interruptions from family members and friends. Everyone thinks that once you have your own home office, you can work on your own schedule and somehow have more free time and flexibility. So they just “stop in” – your spouse, your kids, and even your friends and neighbors. You need regular office hours if you are going to remain mentally organized and productive. Explain these to your “interrupters.” If you were leaving home for work, you would not be available. It is no different now. Set your office hours and stick to them.
11. Experiment – a Lot
Often, we don’t know the impact that a piece of furniture or art will have on our mood, our motivation, and our productivity. And so, experimenting with lots of options is not only fun but good for your mood. Eventually, you’ll get the office you’ve always wanted. And in another 3-4 years? Your tastes and needs may have changed, and you’ll want that reflected in your office too.