I was staring at the pile of papers that were growing in my home office and I couldn’t stand it any longer. So, I took a day off work to organize my space. It wasn’t easy but it needed to be done. After a few hours of organizing, purging junk mail, old magazines from 2009 (really?), and throwing away all those pens that were never used anymore, my desk was clean for the first time in months! Now that everything has its place, I’m able to focus on what needs doing – without having piles of paper or clutter blocking me from getting anything done.
It’s becoming more and more popular for companies to have a significant number of their employee’s remote work, and according to a survey, three out of four Americans feel that they work better at home than in the office. The same study also reveals however that most people are distracted by their personal life when working from the office. Consequently, it’s important for those of us who work from home to create a designated work zone where we can focus on meeting deadlines without any distractions. This shift towards a “stay-at-home” culture also means we need space for all things productive – a laptop, desk, printer, and other devices can quickly take over your house. So it’s vital to both our personal and professional sanity to create a space that keeps both of those in order. Regardless if you have an open plan or an enclosed space, here are some tips on how you can create your own designated work zone and get optimum results:
Quick tips for getting and staying organized and productive:
- Create a designated zone for work only.
This one can be tricky, especially if you live in a smaller space and/or have little ones around. If you have the luxury of dedicating an entire room (no matter how small) then lucky you, you can really get creative here. If not, then find a corner of a room and make it yours. Either way that space, no matter how small, is now your office, it’s for work and only work (ya know that thing that gets you a check so you can pay bills). So no laundry sorting on top, no toys left about, just the tools and supplies you need to get that cheddar.
- Get a standing desk or sit-stand desk.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that sitting at a desk all day is detrimental to so many aspects of our health. The good news is there have been a flood of great products and gadgets on the market that cater to alleviating that problem. Standing desks, under-desk pedaling machines, even apps that remind you to move throughout the day. So do a bit of Googling and find the solution that fits your lifestyle the best and go with it!
- Put your desk in a corner or against a wall, not in the middle of the room.
This is just simple math, it’s easier to keep your workspace separate from household distractions if it’s as out of the way as possible. Plus, aesthetically speaking- with all the wires and other unattractive whatchamacallits used in our offices, you don’t really want those hanging out in the middle of a space you use to relax, sleep, or enjoy a meal with your family. It’s equally important to keep your work out of your personal space as it is to keep your personal fun stuff out of your workspace. (Unless of course, you happen to be one of those REALLY lucky people who design toys for a living or something)
- Get rid of all the clutter.
Marie Kondo the heck out of your space. Be brutal and unsentimental. That awesome pen you got from the cool hotel in Cabo, do you actually use it? Those old magazines, credit card offers, and grocery store ads… to the circular file with you! Projects from a year ago- your home is no longer on the top of my desk.
- Keep your desk organized, use shelves and bins for supplies like paper, pens, etc.
With the right tools this ongoing task, believe it or not, can actually be fun. There are so many interesting, innovative, and efficient storage and organization products out there these days. From basics like file folders with unicorns, to handy bins and drawers made out of cool old old recycled wood or metal. Once again a quick google search will overwhelm you with options. This is your home office so don’t be afraid to get as wacky, glamorous, or colorful with your choices as your heart desires.
- Install a whiteboard on the wall to make it easier to brainstorm ideas.
Ahhh nothing quite as invigorating as a good brainstorming session. These are the times we get to really flex our creative muscles and let those ideas run wild! However, it’s important you don’t miss one of those great ideas, so keep a whiteboard handy so you can jot them down, easily modify them, and in general, go with the creative flow. It also comes in handy for just jotting down important info like phone numbers, dates, etc. without taking up space on your desktop.
- Add some plants or flowers for decoration and fresh air.
Every room should have at least one plant in it (humble opinion). Your office is no exception; they improve air quality, are beautiful, and they give you something to talk to even if no one else is around and even the dog is in the other room. Don’t worry talking to plants is officially less crazy than just talking to nothing (there have actually been studies that show positive attention like singing and talking to plants helps them grow better, but that is a topic for someone else to tackle).
- Make sure you have an ergonomic chair that is comfortable and helps with back pain.
Even most standing desks have the option to lower them for when you do want to sit. It is ok after all to be sitting some of the time (particularly if you have an issue that makes standing more difficult). So find yourself a good quality and ergonomically designed chair, they will help alleviate pressure points and improve posture. Some even have features that help you to engage your core or keep moving in some way, which is particularly helpful if standing is not a good option for you.
- Use a timer so you don’t spend too long sitting at your desk without taking breaks.
This is not just for the physically important reasons we’ve covered above, but also for those mental health ones. It’s important to give yourself little mental breaks from time to time. This is especially true if your job includes customer service of some kind. Anyone who has worked in that field can attest- sometimes ya gotta just walk away and cool down for a minute or two. This is perfectly normal and perfectly healthy. So don’t feel guilty or be afraid to take those breaks, you will be happier and more productive at the end of the day if you do.
So those are our nine quick tips, why nine, not ten you may ask? Just because. We’ve listed a few links below to articles relating to design, productivity, and health below, but there are many great resources out there; the breadth of human knowledge is at your fingertips, so go forth and Google away friends.