Is your home office getting you down? Are you looking for ways to improve your office? Working at home is not always ideal; it can result in increased interruptions, reduced social stimulation, and, in some cases, loss of productivity. The environment you work in is vital to your success, but it can be very hard to know where to start if you are looking for ways to improve it.
Here are some very easy things you can do to improve your home office, and make it a great place to get stuff done.
Make Everything Easy To Reach
Are you getting up every time you need to print something? Is your filing cabinet across the room? While it’s not good to sit all the time, if you keep having to get up to do things, you’re wasting time and energy!
One of the easiest things you can do to improve your office is to relocate the things you need the most so they are within easy reach of your chair. Try to make sure that you have somewhere – other than your desktop – to put things; otherwise it will become cluttered very quickly.
Get a Good Set of Headphones
Even if your home office is closed off from the rest of the house, noise can be a problem. If you have children learning at home (or just home for a snow day), they can be quite a distraction, even if (and sometimes especially if) you can’t see them. Or, even worse, the construction right outside your house is now in month nine with no end in sight. Investing in a good set of headphones means you can pipe in productivity-improving music or sounds (some people like nature sounds or cafe sounds) through your headphones.
Good headphones also improve the sound quality when you are listening to a webinar or on a video call with a client. If you do a lot of video calls, get a headset. Especially if there’s more than two people working from home.
Struggling with Distractions that go beyond noise? check out these Tips for a Distraction-Free Home Office (and How to Be Laser Focused).
Many people ignore lighting when thinking about ways to improve their office, but it’s one of the most important factors for staying focused and inspired. Poor lighting causes fatigue, eyestrain, headaches, and irritability.
Use natural light as much as your layout allows. Natural light has lots of health benefits, particularly in the morning. The location of your office may not allow this, though.
If that’s the case, then add a bit of light to your area. If you do a lot of video calls, position a lamp behind your monitor. This will cast light onto your face and make you look much better. This can also reduce screen glare and thus eye strain.
Use a soft light desk lamp, ideally with a natural light type bulb, rather than a glaring task lamp. Recessed lighting around your work space can also help. Make sure to keep your lighting even through the day.
The Right Chair
Another key to your office environment is the right chair. Make sure that your chair swivels 360 degrees and moves easily. If your office is carpeted, get a mat for under the chair to prevent damage to your carpet and smooth rolling in and out from your desk.
Get a chair that adjusts in height and make sure that your eyes are 24 to 36 inches from your screen, and the top of your monitor is below or at eye-level. If this brings your feet off the floor, get a foot rest.
Some hardcore freelancers who have the money actually go for gaming chairs over office chairs; they’re a little more expensive but can have better ergonomics.
Or maybe you should purchase a sit/stand desk. Should You Purchase a Standing Desk for Your Office?
It’s really important to keep clutter to a minimum. Take a few minutes at the end of your day to declutter your desk and put everything in its place. This will also tell your brain that your work day is over, which improves work-life balance and helps avoid the “always at work” feeling that working from home can induce.
Clean your office regularly, and consider adding more storage space if you need it. If papers tend to spread across your desk, you might need a small filing cabinet or filing box. Get an inbox and outbox to handle mail. If you don’t have much space, look at options that leverage vertical space in your office.
Adjust the Temperature
The nice thing about not working in an office is you can retire from the thermostat wars. People tend to be a little more productive in warmer rooms, but your personal mileage might vary.
The point is to be comfortable. If you are at an awkward temperature and keep having to take your sweater off and put it back on, then you are not going to be doing your best work. Consider placing a space heater under or near your desk or keep a blanket in a basket nearby for a little extra heat when you need it. If you run hot, then keep a fan close; there’s also a lot to be said for opening a window.
Get a Keyboard and Mouse
Laptops are ergonomically poor. An external keyboard and mouse are inexpensive and will help you work better when at home, without losing the ability to decamp to the kitchen island, living room sofa or patio for that vital change of surroundings.