We’ve received so much interest after our last post on how to maximize productivity when working from home, that we had to revisit the topic! Today’s post is all about your workspace. How and where you set up for work can make or break your productivity.
What— no home office? No worries! Carve out space where you can work without distraction. You don’t need to work in the same spot every day. Try several options until you find the best fit. I’ve been getting a lot of mileage out of my favorite Sofia + Sam lap desk this week! I move from room to room depending on the view out the window and where my dogs are hanging out.
Here are some variables that might make one space better for productivity than another:
Ergonomics: Try standing for part of the workday. I’ve found a thick book or two on top of the kitchen island gets my keyboard to a comfortable height. I also believe in the Goldilocks method to find the most work-friendly chair. Think firm yet comfortable.
Light: Make sure your space has good quality light so you are not straining your eyes. If you have a sunny spot with good natural light from a window, set up there. If your space tends more towards the dreary side, or if your overhead lights are weak, try a good task lamp.
Ambiance: Enhance the vibe with scent and/or sound: light a scented candle or— my favorite— use a diffuser to diffuse productivity-boosting essential oils like peppermint, lime, lemon, or rosemary. I like to play soft or calming music through a portable speaker that I can carry with me from room to room. Bonus: I can pick whatever scents and sounds are best for me; my four-legged co-workers are pretty chill when it comes to their work environment.
No matter where I set up that day, I make sure to clean up and put away work papers and other materials at the end of my working hours. You’ll find it easier to keep your sanity if you can keep as much separation between work life and home life as possible. Try to keep work detritus from cluttering your home spaces. I’ve found my end of day pack up acts as a nice ritual to mentally help me shift from “at work” time to “off work” time. A simple tote bag or portable file box can streamline this routine.
If you are lucky enough to have a home office that’s functional right now, you’re ahead of the curve! If you are using this space more frequently than the norm, you also may benefit from making it a bit more user-friendly for longer time stretches. Again, standing up can be a great productivity hack. My husband installed an adjustable height work surface like this one on top of his desk two years ago. He claims that standing keeps him more mentally alert. As an added bonus, his fitness tracker tells him that he gets higher steps and burns more calories (Show Off!).
A big part of sustained productivity is ensuring that your body can keep going when your brain is active. Whether you’re in a home office or sitting at the dining room table, keep good posture basics in mind to help protect your back and neck from fatigue. There are several posture tools on the market now that can remind you to sit up straight. My favorite is Upright Go. It works with an app to help reduce slouching. Another tip for my stand up workers: a gel floor mat can save you if you find that standing for long stretches fatigues your feet or back.
If your office is cluttered with paper, office supplies, or who knows what, try to move those items out of your line of sight. Eliminating visual distractions and stressors can help your focus. While I crave the natural light, I’ve found that having a view out a window can either be calming or distracting, depending on the day. Plan accordingly.
Speaking of distractions, you might need your designated workspace to be located away from the hustle and bustle created by other members of the family. If your household is an active one, try to put a door or wall in-between yourself and everyone else. Being out of regular sightlines may discourage other family members from interrupting you when you are in a workflow.
Stay tuned for our next installment in this series: Managing Your Time for Productivity when Working from Home.