The environment you work in has a big effect on your productivity levels, especially when you work from home. It can be tough to stay focused when you work and sleep in the same place, so you need to create a work area that feels separate from the rest of your home—ideally, its own room.
Simple furniture and décor adjustments can make a big difference in how efficiently you work, as can the technology you use. And with the following seven tips, you can create your perfect home office.
1. Decorate Intelligently
Studies show that the addition of even a few houseplants to an office can make employees up to 38% more productive, as the flora psychologically engages people and helps them feel happier. And, ultimately, feeling happier can make them better workers.
Plants also improve the air quality of a room, so it’s worth filling your office space with some foliage. Opt for low-maintenance plants like succulents if you’re bad at keeping plants alive, and watch how your mood improves while you work.
Having space where you can pin your current favorite images, quotes, and other inspirations is another great way to boost your mood while working. These kinds of decorations help your workplace remain fresh and vibrant, therefore helping you be more productive.
When you look at the same wall décor all the time, you become desensitized to it and it no longer gives you the mental boost it used to. Putting up a pinboard of some sort allows you to constantly switch up the mood of your office environment, helping you stay motivated and avoid the boredom of looking at the same thing every day.
2. Put Your Desk by a Window
Working by a window in your own space rather than in the drabness of an office cubicle can significantly improve your well-being. Thanks to its regulating effect on your Vitamin D, serotonin, and melatonin levels, natural light can boost productivity, increase creativity, reduce stress and the likelihood of sickness, and promote healthy eye development.
Positioning your desk somewhere that gets a lot of daylight may also improve the quality of your sleep at night—the exposure to the sun’s movements helps regulate your body’s circadian rhythm. One study even shows that people who sat by a window while working got an average of forty-six more minutes of sleep than those who didn’t.
3. Equip Your Space Properly
When you work from home, you’re completely in charge of office supplies, so make sure you’ve got everything you need before you get to work. A good computer with all necessary software is an obvious must, and so are pens, notepads, file organizers, printing materials, envelopes with stamps, and whatever else you might use.
Your needs will vary based on the type of work you do, so spend some time determining what supplies to equip your space with. If you’re going to have a lot of conference calls with video, for example, make sure your setup includes a good camera and microphone, and consider equipping your office with its own phone and number if you don’t want to use your personal cellphone or landline for work.
4. Make Things Comfortable
You’re probably going to spend a lot of time in your home office, so having comfortable seating options is crucial. Don’t sacrifice comfort for style when designing your workspace — make sure your desk chair is suitable for hours of sitting.
Back pain is a common problem for most people who work in offices, and it can easily distract you from what you’re supposed to be working on. Try to prevent it by choosing a chair with adequate lumbar support.
You could also consider having a more lounging-suitable seating option, like a couch, for when you have multiple calls to make and want a break from sitting at your desk.
5. Avoid Clutter
If you’re using a spare room in your home as an office, it can be easy for clutter to build up. This can cause your mind to become cluttered too, so try to avoid it at all costs.
The Princeton Neuroscience Institute found that clutter competes for attention in our brains, shifting our focus from what we’re supposed to be working on to the mess surrounding us. Treat your home office like a real office and don’t let junk pile up just because it’s in your home.
Wall-mounted storage is a great way to keep office stuff organized in limited space, and Pinterest has some handy tips for office organization.
Digital clutter can also wear down your mental faculties and make it more difficult to work. By keeping the files on your computer properly organized and being strict about deleting files you don’t need, you’ll free up both time and hard drive space.
Your emails should also be well organized, so make use of features like Gmail’s auto-filter, or use a third-party organizer like Newton to really stay on top of your seemingly endless inbox.
6. Don’t Skimp on Internet Speed
Make sure your internet speed is up to scratch. It can be difficult to have an efficient conference call, for example, when one person keeps freezing or cutting out due to a poor connection. Dealing with technical issues while trying to work from home is far from ideal, and you won’t have the support of an IT team like you did while working in an actual office. Paying for reliable speed and connection can mitigate any issues you might have.
The nice thing about this upgrade is that you can enjoy the benefits of a faster, better internet connection when you’re not working, so you won’t have to deal with constant buffering if you’re trying to unwind with a movie after work.
7. Avoid Monotony
One of the major perks of working from home is an increased degree of freedom, so make the most of it. However perfect your home office setup is, you may find that working there all the time gets a bit stifling. When that happens, be prepared to get outside of your usual work environment and head to a coffee shop or other new location.
This different environment will boost your creativity and motivation like adding plants and rotating décor does. While routine can be an important part of a healthy work-life, you shouldn’t feel so married to yours that you’re reluctant to get outside of it occasionally.
Working from home comes with its own set of challenges, but if you do it right and cultivate a suitable working environment for you, it can be incredibly rewarding. It might take a bit of time for you to figure out what your ideal workspace looks like—be mindful of what seems to be working and what doesn’t, and make changes accordingly.