Starting work without taking off your pyjamas may sound like a fairytale for some. But for most people, it’s the new normal. Most individuals (74% of surveyed people) are looking for flexible or remote working opportunities so they can telecommute.
I’ve come to realize that working from home quickly blurs the lines between our professional and private life. If you’re working remotely for someone else, it will be easier for you to adapt to a different work setting. However, if you’re working for yourself, use whatever hacks you can to divide the two areas of your life and create a productive working space in your home.
Have breaks at the same time to avoid doing laundry or similar quick household tasks in the spur of the moment just because you can. Those are productivity killers, and they will become a habit if you don’t nip it in the bud—take my word for it.
To understand the advantages and shortcomings of working from home for individuals and businesses, researchers recently studied people who work from home in comparison to office workers.
The survey by Airtasker showed that working from home not only eliminates the employees’ daily commutes, but it also boosts productivity.
In this guide, we look at an essential element that contributes to productivity – your home working space.
How do you create a productive working space at home?
1. Find a Quiet, Well-Lit and Comfortable Spot in the House
Start by looking for the quietest corner of the house. Some people have no problem working with some music in the background, but others can’t withstand any noise, such as playful children, a loud television, or a dog barking.
If you prefer working in silence, then ensure your workspace is entirely separate from any person’s play space. You may want to work from a room with a closed door.
The other aspect is lighting. If you’re using a desk lamp, ensure it’s not too dim or too bright. You’ll want to work in a room with adequate natural light. To achieve that, choose a workspace with windows to get the sunlight in.
It’s common to feel tired during winter because there’s no sunlight, and this can make you less productive. To fight winter fatigue, you should try to get outside for a jog or walk so you can get vitamin D, which can boost your energy levels. Your skin can receive vitamin D even when it’s cloudy.
Comfort is equally crucial, especially if most of your work involves sitting in a chair. It’s worth investing in a comfortable chair and desk so you don’t experience back pain, which can affect your mood, health, and productivity.
If sitting down for extended periods bothers you, you may want to get a standing desk. Switching between sitting and standing will not only keep you alert but will also keep your back in good health.
You also need to set the right temperature for the workspace. If it’s too cold, your productivity will suffer, and if it’s too hot, you won’t concentrate well. You may want to get a fan, portable air conditioner, or heater.
2. Set Up the Equipment You Need for the Job
Your working space is not only the place you spend most of your time but also a spot to make your time count. So, you’ll want to consider getting the right equipment (if you can afford it).
Finding the right laptop or monitor to display your work vividly is crucial. And of course, you need a comfortable chair and desk to be productive. Before buying a chair, you may want to ensure it has the following features:
- A comfortable cushion
- Adjustable seat height
- A strong back support
Another piece of equipment I find irreplaceable are noise-cancelling headphones.
When music distracts you, and you need complete silence – opt for one of the Bose Quiet Comfort models. The older model has a bit better ergonomics, but both have excellent noise-cancelling technology.
If background sounds help you concentrate better, the Sony MX model will give you a solid combination of noise-cancelling plus a great music experience.
As for your overall productivity – this is where digital equipment steps in.
Keep a to-do list, but think of it as an ever-evolving document. Set a most important task (MIT) for the day, and follow it by urgent ones. Revise it when necessary.
Whenever you have a big task – divide it into smaller tasks, like building blocks. Then, set a time tracker for 20 minutes or so and take a break. You can use time trackers and apps with set intervals like Pomodoro – those will help you get started even with the hardest projects.
Tracking your time is a great mind hack to boost your productivity. Additionally, monitoring your work will help you better understand your own habits and improve further.
3. Eliminate Unnecessary Distractions and Decor
Working from home requires that you exercise discipline, self-control, and even set boundaries in a bid to stay focused. Whether your workspace is big or small, here are a few practical tips to keep your working space productive:
- Know your major distractions – Pinpoint those things around the house that distract you the most then work on getting them out of the way before you start working. For example, if a dirty kitchen is distracting, clean it up before you settle down in your workstation.
- Deal with your phone – Social media is a massive distraction for most people who work from home. While in the middle of a task, it’s easy to grab your phone, open Facebook and reply to a couple of comments, retweet a few interesting posts on Twitter, and like a bunch of pictures on Instagram.
But It’s so easy to waste 30 or more minutes this way. To deal with this, turn off your phone or put it on flight mode to avoid the notifications that might distract you.
- Reconsider colour – According to studies, painting the home office blue increases focus and boosts productivity. Besides, yellow and orange are fantastic accent colours that stir up the senses, inspiring creativity. If you can’t paint the entire room, you may want to buy orange and blue picture frames and put them on your desk.
While these tips are universal and might work for most people, keep your own individuality in mind. You might react to colour differently and find them distracting. If so, a simple, all-white room might be a better option.
4. Focus on Functionality and Having Access to All the Necessary Tools and Documents
Your productivity is determined by how you work best, so the tools you use have to match that.
There’s no need to go overboard with the shiny pretty things that you know you want. Focus instead on how these objects function.
For your daily tasks, you might need a simple notepad, something more advanced like a bullet journal, or an online version.
For your productive working space, you might work better seeing all of your equipment, so organising boxes and accessories might suit. But if you work better by not seeing anything, a tidy desk might be the answer. In which case, investing in a cupboard or drawers to keep your equipment hidden away might work well.
Whatever you pick, make sure you keep it simple, you can always add to it later.
In the same way, there are productivity promoters, we also have productivity killers, and a good example is computer stress.
Computer stress refers to the nervousness and anxiety that workers experience when their computers don’t function expectedly.
For example, programs that take forever to run, a booting process that takes too long to complete, an insanely slow internet connection, and tedious installation procedures can upset a person who’s prone to computer stress.
A slow and malfunctioning computer is one of the biggest productivity killers. If you’ve got a project to deliver and your computer malfunctions or slows down, you may lose motivation, not provide the work on time, or end up doing subpar work.
But when this happens, there’s no need to invest in a new computer. You can use the right tool to speed up your PC and continue using it as usual. This will save you ample time and stress.
Working from home doesn’t mean you have to work from the couch or in a closet. Remote work has a lot of benefits, but only if you make the most of your productive working space.
Use the above tips to create a functional and vibrant workspace so you can discover new realms of happiness and productivity.