How to set up your workspace at home to boost productivity
Office’s can be just as unproductive as they are productive. You don’t get on with your work colleagues, you stare blankly at your screen, whilst your boss shouts you from the other room, only for your knees to cease up from the long periods of sitting down and don’t forget the travel time where every traffic light seems to turn red as you approach it. All of these things can lead to an inefficient workplace that needs to be resolved.
Due to current circumstances, most of us are working from home and although this is a dreadful time and it may have put you in a bit of a predicament, every cloud has a silver lining and when it comes to working from home I can tell you from experience, it’s not too bad at all. You have more control of your workspace and what hours you work, you don’t have to commute to and from work and do you want to know the best part?... You don’t even have to wear trousers! If this is all new to you and you don’t know where to start, we’ve got three tips to help you set up your work place at home.
These three tips are going to help answer three main questions, which are:
- Where should I set up my work space?
- How should I set up my work space?
- What will I need for my work space?
So, let’s get cracking with how to set up your productive work space at home.
Your environment plays a huge roll in how effectively you work so, it is important for you to learn how to set up your work place to achieve the best possible outcome with what you have at hand. There are a few ways that you’re environment can have an impact on you, mainly revolving around being distracted and how your brain deals with change, we’ll look at these in more detail now.
Where to put your workstation
If you are fortunate enough of having a spare room that can be turned in to your office, count yourself lucky, this is the best option when it comes to working from home but, don’t worry if you haven’t got the room, we’ve still got a few options for you. When it comes to setting up your work station, the problem lies with how your brain associates certain moods with certain environments, for example, when you go to bed at night, you should begin to feel tired as your brain associates your bed with sleep. You should avoid “cross contaminating” different environments as when you do, you end up having the wrong mood for that environment, to further explain this, let’s go back to the bedroom example. If you keep playing games on your phone whilst you’re in bed, your brain associates your bed with playing so, when you try to go to sleep at night your brain will get excited and release certain chemicals which makes it harder for you to sleep. When it comes to creating your workspace, you want to be as far away from your bed as possible because you don’t want it to affect your sleep, nor do you want your bed to make you feel tired when you’re trying to work. If you’re confined to your bedroom like me, you can use a foldable table or desk as far from your bed, to use up as much space as possible. You should also aim to be near a window to make sure that you are still getting enough vitamin D from the sun. You can see my very minimalistic set up below whilst I save up for my all singing, all dancing office!
Staying focused on your tasks is probably one of the biggest obstacles when it comes to working from home and I totally understand your struggle, as I live with my family Including a very hyper 6 year old, that just wants to play all the time. For people who live on their own, this isn’t a problem and although they may face other challenges which you can learn more about here, it’s probably better conditions for working as your family and friends can’t distract you. If you do live in a household with other people there is some things you can do to your environment, to not tread on each other’s toes when one of you is trying to work.
Communication with your family is a huge advantage and quite simply, if you let them know that you don’t want to be disturbed during a certain time, I’m sure they will be willing to accommodate that but, if that’s not the case, isolating yourself by shutting the doors to your room should help.
Visual prompts are also very useful, such as using a color changing light and turning it a certain color to inform your family that you are working. You can use lights that clip on to your laptop, a sign that tells people to be quite and even some headphones but, we’ll talk about them in a different section. You can see these lights below with links to buy them before it’s to late!
You might think that having all the gadgets and gizmos in your office is the best choice but, when it comes to what you should put in your workplace, it’s more about reducing what you have in it, rather than adding anything else to it. As distractions are one of the biggest problems when it comes to staying productive at home, in fact, it’s said that it roughly takes 25 minutes to refocus on your work after being distracted. Contradictory to this, there are some pieces of equipment that you can use to enhance your work, that we will look into but first, try getting rid of the things that aren’t useful and you know they will distract you I.e your phone if you don’t use it for work.
This includes your laptop or pc, mouse, keyboard, pen and paper, anything that is essential for you to complete your work. It totally depends on what you do as a profession so, have a think about all of the equipment that you need, that is specific to you. Below we’ve left some links to the more common pieces of equipment.
To enhance your work, it may be beneficial to add a few gadgets and appliances, just to make your work that little bit better, if you’re a designer, getting a tablet so you can draw your creations free hand would help. You might want an extra monitor if you’re an editor or you use your computer a lot. Anything that would give you a little boost you can buy it as long as it’s going to make more of a positive impact than a negative one.
You can use a whiteboard for literally anything, you can use it for creating a to-do list, you could use the Kanban method on it or, you could simply put a motivational quote on it. I personally use the whiteboard on my laptop as a habit tracker which we can look in to another day. Whether you want to buy one or use one on your computer, I highly recommend having one!
Plants are great for your workstation. Not only do they bring a calming state to your environment, they’re actually really useful for keeping air quality high. I don’t have any plants in my room but, thankfully I live downstairs right next to the garden so, all I have to do is open the doors, I do hope to have a Bonsai tree when I move out along with some of the plants below but until then, I’ll use the garden.
Organization is a key habit of most high achievers, it allows them to be more efficient so they can focus on the task at hand and that’s why you should try and stay organized to! A great way to keep your work space tidy, is by using folders and filing systems for all of your work. You could also use a distraction journal for any thoughts that pop in to your head when you are busy.
Food and drink
Although this isn’t a piece of equipment, keeping your body fueled throughout the day is vital to boosting your performance whilst you work. You might want to keep some snacks nearby. Nuts, fruit, yoghurt are all great ideas. You also want to keep a bottle of water close to remind you to stay hydrated.
Headphones are a great way to show someone that you don’t want to be disturbed and the ones that we have linked below are sound canceling, meaning that they protect you from the noise pollution around you. So, what do you listen to on your headphones? Well, I’ve recently been experimenting with Lofi music which is kind of like elevator music but, you can also use white noise and ambient sounds whilst you work.
When it comes to assembling your work station, you need to consider the ergonomics of it. What is ergonomics I hear you ask? Well, it’s the art of changing your environment to increase health, convenience and better productivity. The most common form of ergonomics is the design of your work space with the aim to improve one’s posture. There are many ways to alter your office to be ergonomically correct which we will go through now.
Realistically, humans aren’t made to be sitting down as much as they do and overtime this can have some negative effects such as contributing to cancer and heart disease problems. So, what can you do differently to make your workstation better for your health? Well, the first option and probably the best, is to purchase an adjustable standing desk, this allows you to stand up whilst you work without having to bend over. You don’t need to buy an expensive electric desk either, you can get this one which allows you to stand up and sit down when you want by physically winding it up.
Secondly, You need to understand that your furniture isn’t specifically made for you so, When you are sitting down there are some things to take into consideration. The first obstacle is your chair, you want something that supports you and is comfortable. You want to keep elbows inline with your keyboard and the top of your monitor at eyesight to reduce neck and eye strain. If your feet are of the ground you might want to get yourself a footstool to relieve the strain. Below we have got some products that we think should help but, the best thing to do is keep moving so, roughly every hour take a break from your work and have a quick stretch.
Overall, your office has got to be right for you so, you can make it however you want but, with these three tips, you should have a clearer vision of what your dream office looks like. You should try to focus on two questions, is it helping me be more productive? And is it good for me?
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