Right now I’m writing from the office. The view out my window is filled with the Portland skyline and a lawn with scampering house-cats. Behind me is my TV. To my left is an alarming amount of Ikea furniture. My office is my living room, and I can’t wait to go to work every day. Creating a successful home office is a fine art. Below I outline some tips on how to make your space the best workplace, no matter where you are.
1. Define your workspace
No office? No problem. You can still work successfully from a space that lacks square-footage or extra rooms. The most important tip is to separate your work space from home space. When you don’t commute to a physical office, it’s tempting to set your alarm to 5 minutes before the workday begins and open your laptop just seconds after you open your eyes. Trust me, it’s impossible to feel professional while snuggled in a comforter with your teddy-bear 6 inches away. The office needs to be an area where as soon as you enter, the rest of your home melts away and your full focus is on work.
2. Set rules
There’s a reason that offices set work hours and enforce dress-codes. Showing up to a meeting to 15 minutes late and without pants just isn’t going to cut it in the professional world. Your workspace should be treated like any other professional setting (maybe a little more leniency on the dress code—sweatpants approved!).
Make sure to arrive at your desk by a certain time every morning and come prepared to work. Turning on your computer only to take out the trash, go on a coffee run and shower after 3 minutes does not count. Likewise, keep external factors out! It’s hard to sound polished on a conference call when friends are playing video games in the background or your chihuahua is barking into the headset.
Whether your style is methodical clutter or Scandinavian simplicity, a well-organized workspace helps to clear your mind of distractions. In accordance with points 1 and 2, keep your home stuff away from your office stuff. If you’re feeling the pressures of limited space, get creative. Shelving is a great place to put books and supplies, and below-desk drawers or baskets can hide paperwork and unsightly items.
DON’T FORGET: If your job involves technology like computers or tablets, you’ll need a space that has plenty of outlets, plus solutions for storing power cords and chargers.
Keeping a de-cluttered desk will benefit your work-life and your home-life alike. If your home is anything like mine, the workspace is in plain view for visitors. Instead of clamoring to clear off the 15 stacked coffee cups littered around your feet, keep your area clean and guests will always be welcome.
Say ‘goodbye’ to the drab gray tones of cubicle life and ‘hello’ to the “office decor” section on Pinterest. Along with the ability to wear velour during the workday comes the ability to make your workspace look and feel however you want. There’s no quicker way to feel inspired than to surround yourself with art, photos, decor, or simply colors that make you happy. If you’re not sure how to decorate, keep it simple and try introducing a house plant. Not only do fresh flowers and plants look and smell awesome, but studies have shown that employees who work in spaces with nature have increased productivity and feel better about their work.
TIP: No green thumb? Succulents are an excellent alternative to leafy plants. Still managing to kill your cacti? Welcome to my world. While you might miss out on the air purifying effects of their living counterparts, fake plants from stores like Michael’s or Ikea look just as good and are almost impossible to destroy.
5. Take a break
If you don’t get up, move, and get outside, you WILL get cabin fever. There was a not-so-long-ago occasion where I didn’t leave my apartment for 27 hours, so I have firsthand experience. Not only is sitting for extended periods of time detrimental to your health but many studies suggest that frequent breaks from heavy computer use can boost productivity. If you can’t get out for a nature-filled stroll, stand up and stretch it out, try a mid-day workout, or at the very least make eye contact with your houseplant for a couple short minutes before returning to your screen.