Home offices offer a ton of advantages. They give you a lot of freedom to relax, work at your own pace, and get things done from the comfort of your own home. Almost everyone is excited during their first few weeks in a home office because it’s so liberating when compared to a traditional desk in an office building.
Eventually you get used to it, but you may find yourself getting more and more unproductive. There are many factors that can influence this, so let me walk you through the most common ones and how to avoid them.
Make it comfortable
Just setting up any chair or desk may be enough for a month, but you will quickly feel the need to get something more comfortable.
I would highly recommend a comfortable chair first and foremost. Your back will suffer a lot if you spend hours sitting on chairs or stools that were not made for proper back support. If you can only invest in one thing, it should be a great chair.
From there, you can keep on improving your home office. A better desk, paper storage, improved lighting, a comfortable keyboard… When you plan on spending hundreds of hours every month in the same place, every little thing counts!
Make it distraction-free
Distractions are the bane of modern workspaces.
Phones are the usual culprit, but with all sorts of social media being easily available with one click, your desktop isn’t safe. And there’s no real way to prevent this, mind you – it’s just something you have to be aware of.
As for other external factors such as sound and visual distractions, there are a few things you can do. You can rely on a high-quality headset to listen to music, ambient sounds, or white noise if you prefer – anything to help if you’re easily distracted by sounds, such as children playing or cars passing down the street.
Putting your phone away is also a good idea because even if it’s on silent, the notifications are still distracting if the screen lights up in your line of sight. So put it away while you work – your desktop or laptop should be enough to get work done in most cases.
Find a balance between personal time and work
While it would be ideal, it’s almost impossible to remain completely oblivious to personal or household matters during your work hours.
Ideally, you want to focus solely on work. Other chores and tasks around the house should be left for later when you’re done with work. Not only is this distracting, but it also creates this weird homogeneity in your schedule, which can lead to you feeling unable to relax at home. It’s nice to keep things separate.
However, in practice that’s a lot harder than it looks. Sometimes your personal and workspaces are going to overlap, and it’s up to you to embrace this and find a comfortable balance.
For example, some people don’t mind taking a break to go finish the dishes or put some laundry to do when they’re feeling a little stuck at work. But that’s an intentional move – you should never be constantly jumping back and forth. Focus on doing one thing at a time, whenever possible.
Bad lighting in the office can really mess up your routine. We’re hard-wired to react to how light works, that’s why we’re generally more active during the morning and less so during the night.
For your work hours, try to let some light in through a curtain and make sure your immediate work area is well lit. If you struggle with typing because it’s a bit dark on your desk, consider adding a light source nearby or getting a backlit keyboard.
If you have to work during the night (which is not ideal but happens sometimes) lighting is even more important. Make sure it’s not too dark in the room, or you’ll start getting sleepy.
Stay hydrated (and take snack breaks)
Keep a bottle of water nearby at all times, that way you will never forget to drink your quota of water for the day. It’s way more important than it looks to remain hydrated.
Besides that, I highly recommend taking snack breaks during the day. Avoid eating while working at all costs: there’s nothing I despise more than mixing your leisure time with your work. You should be able to enjoy your snack, so take 15 minutes off and enjoy it. That’s probably my best productivity hack for a home office – it’s carried me for years.
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