Claim your space
The first thing to do when creating a productive home office is to define your space and claim it. Whether it’s a room with a door you can close, or a corner of a family room, ensure everyone around you knows that this is your space. When you’re there, it’s always for work, so no visitors or distractions. Of course, small children and pets don’t always get this concept, but at least you can give it a try and you may reduce interruptions to some degree.
Let there be light
Avoid working in a cave-like environment. Natural light will make it far more pleasant to work, and when you need a break from your screen, a window will give chance to reconnect with the world outside – whether it’s a busy street or a beautiful tree, or a spectacular cityscape. Position your desk so you’re facing towards the light; this will minimize glare from your screen. If natural light isn’t an option, then ensure your office lighting is optimized to reduce eye strain and headaches.
Create a calm environment by pre-cluttering
A calm and well-organized environment makes it much easier to focus on the tasks you want to accomplish. Be ruthless about clearing away papers that you don’t need. Rather than piling your papers onto shelves, invest in a filing cabinet so you can store and organize the ones you need to keep, out of sight. An inexpensive shredder, which can be picked up at any office supply outlet, can deal with the rest.
Get your paperwork in order before it builds up and overwhelms you. Allocate five minutes at the end of each day to filing and binning, so the next day you’ll be greeted by an uncluttered desk. You’ll save valuable time and avoid frustration when you know how to put your hands on the documents you need without hunting for them.
Working remotely, it’s still essential to be highly connected with colleagues and clients. Make sure that you’re using the most effective tools for online collaboration and document sharing, to stay updated and organized.
Sitting for hours every day can lead to all kinds of issues for your back, shoulders, and neck. This can make it harder for you to remain seated and focus on being productive.
Invest in some essentials, such as an ergonomically designed chair with adequate lumbar support. Ensure that your computer screen is at the right height – too high or too low and your neck will soon start to suffer. If you’re typing for hours each day, wrist supports will help you avoid painful carpal tunnel syndrome.
If you really find it too hard to sit, a standing desk can really be helpful and keep your muscles moving. The bottom line is – just do whatever it takes to be comfortable as you work (other than lying down).
Dress for success
That’s the ‘hardware’ taken care of, now let’s talk about you.
In a traditional working environment, you’d have your morning routine, getting ready, arriving at your workplace on time, and accomplishing whatever it is you do. At home, it’s easy to let things slide. Getting up a little later, staying in pajamas or sweats, maybe watching a little TV before getting started. It’s a slippery slope.
Instead, maintain a strict schedule. Don’t neglect your grooming and dress as if you were in the office. This will help you to focus on your work and, when you unexpectedly receive a video call, you’ll be ready for business and looking professional.
When you want to maximize your productivity, a great hack is to start your day with 10 minutes of meditation to get you focussed on the tasks ahead. If you’re not sure how to get started, there are plenty of easy to follow videos on YouTube to help you concentrate.
Another hack to try is to put your headphones on and listen to some binaural beats, which will enhance your cognitive function and create a state of ‘flow’ as you work.
The humble pen and notepad are the perfect lo-tech solution for organizing the work you need to get done each day. A ‘to-do’ list is quick to jot down, easy to cross off the things you’ve accomplished, and carry over the ones you still need to do, until the next day. Keep them in front of you at all times, and feel the sense of achievement as you strike through each completed task.
Just get moving
After every thirty minutes of hard, productive work, reward yourself and replenish your mental energy by getting up and moving around. An exercise bike, some weights, or a portable stepper can all help to get the blood flowing – but if you don’t have any of them, step outside and just take some deep breaths!