So you’ve finally made the leap! Maybe you established your own freelance business, or you just talked the boss into letting you work from home. Whatever the case, when it comes to working out of the house, don’t underestimate the importance of your office to your business success!
It may be tempting to put your office space low on the priority list when first beginning working from home. Often budgets are tight and we think our computer, a couple of file cabinets and a desk are all we need and we’re good to go, right? Soon enough, however, when we start looking at ideas on how to increase productivity, we find that having the right environment plays a major part.
Workplace productivity tips for the home are becoming much more necessary these days, as more people exit the corporate office. At first, this can seem like the ideal set-up. Create your own hours, no office politics, be near the family, etc. But we soon find that the home office does present some unique challenges.
With that in mind, I’ve put together some of the best productivity tips that I have come across for getting the most out of your home office.
Plan your home office first
No need to rush into it!
You may think that you’re limited on your choices when it comes to your home office, but that is not always necessarily the case. Before you settle on a space, make a list of everything you are absolutely going to need to make an office work. Then look at several possible options and think about them both creatively and strategically.
You may have a larger room in mind, but if you’re going to be sharing that space with the kids, or it is otherwise distracting, then a smaller, more secluded spot might make more sense. You may even be surprised by how much more productive you can be by converting a smaller space that offers fewer distractions. So look carefully at a couple of options before putting the effort into actually creating your office.
Put some thought into your office furniture
One of the great advantages to working at home is having the opportunity to get office furniture you actually want, and not just what you were able to scrounge up from the office storage room.
For example, a great lesson in how to increase productivity is to consider investing in a desk that can adjust to a standing position. There can be several advantages to this:
Sitting can make you sore and uncomfortable, which leads to decreased productivity
Studies have also shown that sitting for periods longer than an hour can be unhealthy for several reasons (see the work of Dr. James Levine)
Standing, on the other hand, keeps the blood circulating and helps you to keep from getting mentally fatigued
A desk that adjusts to a standing desk also lets you take a break from sitting, yet continue working
If you are going to sit, make sure you have a comfortable office chair. Ergonomics in office furniture, in general, has come a long way in recent years. You will find that a comfortable work environment will be well worth the investment and pay for itself quickly with increased productivity.
Keep regular office hours
Making a set schedule and sticking to it will help keep you in the productive zone. It can also be an important way to help you stop working! Sometimes with a home office, it’s difficult to not fixate on your work when it is so nearby. Having regular office hours can help you flip the switch, both on and off.
If possible, keep your office for work only. When you are eating, socializing, or finished working, the office is closed up and not reopened until work starts again. You can even go so far as to come up with your own operational procedures.
Regular hours may also prove to be critical to your family or housemate’s acceptance of your home office. Sometimes you need a silent environment, possibly inconveniencing those you live with. Keep strict office hours and try to make them work for everyone if possible.
Make your workspace comfortable
If you’re wondering how to increase productivity, you might be surprised at how much just sprucing up the place helps. You’re going to be spending a lot of time in your home office. Spare some thought to making it a space that you actually look forward to going to.
Taking the time to paint and choosing a soothing color can be time well spent. Find proper lighting that isn’t too harsh too. And if you have a window, let the sun come in. It will definitely give you a natural boost.
You may even consider hanging uplifting or inspirational images and quotes, if that’s your thing. Also, pictures of family and loved ones are great too—keep reminders of what it is that you’re working so hard for.
Another great productivity tip for working at home is to add some live greenery. This can help detox the air, and make your work environment much more relaxing.
You may have felt more social pressure at your old office job to keep your space neat and organized. Now that you’re working at home, it may be tempting to become a little lax in your organizational habits. Don’t let this happen!
Sitting down to a clean, organized desk will do wonders for your productivity. Knowing where things are and being able to easily access them will also make your business run more smoothly.
A great way to avoid clutter is by having only exactly what you need in your home office. It may not always be possible, but try to keep your office from doubling as a broom closet or a playroom. Removing as many distractions as possible will help keep you focused on the job at hand.
Invest in quality equipment
Speed and efficiency become critical when you run your own business. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to spend a fortune on office equipment to work at home. However, many make the mistake of trying to get by on the bare minimum. Don’t skimp on critical items like computers, printers, data storage, office furniture, etc. Before long, you will find that you need quality equipment anyway, so go ahead and do the research to get good value the first time.