With millions of people now working from home, the “home office” setups vary just as much as the jobs of the people using them. Some already had a desk set up at home, so the transition is less about the spatial repurposing and more about organizing time and resources. Still, turning what was a sometimes-office into a full-time work zone can be tricky.
There are others who find themselves clearing the kitchen table every day to lay out computers and set up additional lighting for a makeshift video conferencing zone. Add kids or pets on top of that equation and productivity can feel nearly impossible.
There are a few tricks that you can use to help create a workspace at home that is both functional within the confines of your home as well as conducive to productivity. So here are our work from home tips to help you stay on task and organized!
Declutter and create a designated space
It should go without saying, but… don’t do your work in bed. Boundaries are the name of the game when it comes to successfully working from home. Your work stuff shouldn’t live on your dining room table (or bedside table), and when it’s work time, the dishes and other items should be cleared off. Get creative and make a designated workspace. This creates the separation, both physical and psychological, between Work Time and Personal Time.
Working from home can come with the dangerous temptation to let work and personal tasks bleed together until it feels like you just never stop working. Let us just remind you that there is no faster route to burnout! Creating an intentional practice of getting your work stuff out or walking to your office at a given time, and then putting everything away at the end of the workday, can help create that healthy boundary.
Light, air, and ergonomics matter
It’s one thing to crouch over your laptop on the couch if you’re doing so once a week. It’s another thing entirely to sit hunched for hours and days on end. Do yourself an enormous favor and take good care of your body’s needs as you consider your home office setup. Set yourself up in a place with as much natural light as possible and a decent amount of airflow. Natural light will help regulate your circadian rhythms to stay awake and alert during work hours, and let’s face it: sunlight makes us all happier. Opening a window from time to time can also help freshen the space and improve your mood and focus.
When it comes to ergonomics, you don’t want to suddenly become a regular at your chiropractor because you’ve been slumped at your kitchen table. Set up your screen to be at eye height, and an actual computer mouse should go on your list of work from home essentials. Using a laptop trackpad can be a recipe for wrist strain over time.
Similarly, using your kitchen chair might work at first, but be sure it’s promoting good posture. Choose a chair that allows you to sit tall and pull up close to your desk or table.
Then? Remember to get up and stretch or exercise at home regularly, and your body will be much happier about this new lifestyle.
Get your partner or family on board
Sharing a home office with your spouse can be an amazing opportunity to see each other more often. It can also be a recipe to drive each other crazy really fast if you don’t establish shared work practices! Creating set “work hours” where you are focused and not available for non-work conversations or YouTube binges is important. Help each other to stay focused during work hours and you can enjoy your personal time more fully.
Parents, you have another challenge: setting boundaries with your kids! To the best of your ability, talk to your kids about keeping your workspace focused on work (not art projects) and respecting the periods that you need to quietly focus. Noise-canceling headphones can be one way to stay productive at home, and breaking your workday into chunks can help younger kids understand that Mom or Dad needs to focus for 30 minutes at a time. All the best home office tips are pointless if your toddler is constantly crawling on your keyboard!
Working from home has its ups and downs, but we feel confident that with a little focus and creativity, you can create a home office that will keep you focused, healthy, and productive!