Working from home can either be the best or worst thing that happens to your professional career. The benefits are undeniable: the lack of a daily commute saves money on gas, you can cook all of your own meals, and you don’t have to wear office attire (but it’s recommended you avoid lounging around in sweatpants). Plain and simple, you can work from the comfort of your haven.
Still, there are downsides. With your bedroom nearby, pets running around your feet, and no one around to ensure you’re productive, it can be tempting to slack off. Deadlines suddenly feels more daunting, and stress can increase rather than dissipate. The key is to create a productive home office by eliminating distractions and reducing downtime.
Chose a Smart Location
Not all of us are lucky enough to have an available room that can be dedicated to our home office. The rest of us have to get creative. Think about the layout of your house, and ask yourself where you are least likely to encounter distraction.
The ideal location will be comfortable, quiet, and somewhere that has enough space for you to organize all of your work. If you don’t already have a desk, consider investing in one that was designed with a home office in mind.
Even if you’ve chosen the perfect location within your home, having a cluttered desk will make you feel messy and unproductive. It’s worth cleaning the area daily, which only takes a minute or two but will ultimately lead to a more productive workday.
The items that you choose to keep on your desk should either be motivating in some way, like a picture of your children or an inspiring photograph or should be functional. A file folder can be handy and help you organize your work, and having a printer close by will help you get work done faster. Despite an ongoing laser printer vs inkjet debate, the right printer will be the one that is best suited to your specific needs.
Add Some Greenery
While you shouldn’t set up a full-blown nursery on your desk, a few potted plants can help you create a productive and creative workspace. They add a level of visual diversity that is both soothing and motivating. Plants also pump oxygen into the air, which literally adds life to the room.
You can even find websites that offer a large selection of plants ready for home delivery. Scroll through the possibilities and invest in a few that will sit comfortably on your desk and appeal to your sense of style.
When you’re at the office, it’s easy to keep the day’s tasks in mind. Other employees might be asking you for updates on a project, or you might attend meetings that keep crucial assignments at the top of your mind. When you work from home, you are solely responsible for staying on task.
If you’re a small business owner or someone who has to juggle multiple projects, making a checklist in the morning or the night before is a great way to stay on top of deadlines. Place it somewhere in your home office within your immediate line of sight. It’s a worthwhile habit that will keep assignments from slipping through the cracks and will help you prioritize the day’s work.
Take Advantage of Your Breaks
Instead of using your breaks to scroll through social media feeds, use them in ways that are beneficial to your mind and body. Working for hours on end, no matter how engaging the work, can be extremely exhausting. While at your home office, your breaks should be focused on replenishing your energy and helping you return with fresh eyes.
Read an interesting article or two, develop a quick workout routine, or practice mindfulness meditation. If you use your time wisely, you’ll experience less burnout and be less reluctant to sit back down.
Stick to a Schedule
Without someone expecting you to walk through the office door at 8:00 am sharp, it can be tempting to sleep in. However, if you arrive at your home office at a late hour, it can lead to a sharp decline in productivity and motivation. By sticking to a schedule, you keep yourself engaged during the hours you need to be. You tell your brain: this is the time to work.
By organizing your home office with a focus on productivity, it’s possible to get even more done than you would at a standard office. The trick is to keep making adjustments until you feel like you’ve got it right.