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Must-Have Items for Your Home Office

Must-Have Items for Your Home Office

If you don’t work from home, you probably imagine it to be a pretty cushy gig: you can do everything you need to get done while lounging on the couch in your pajamas, casually going about your business with not a care in the world.

If you do work from home, you know that’s simply not the case. For the most part, working from home requires you to set up your living space as if it were an actual office. While you don’t necessarily need to hole yourself up in your room, it certainly helps put you in the frame of mind to get some work done. If you’ve been designated for home assignment, make sure you have the following to ensure you maintain your productive nature.

Wi-Fi with a high speed connection

If you work from home, chances are you’ll be spending a majority of your time utilizing the Internet in some capacity. A slow Internet means halted productivity. Make sure you have a reliable router, and are connected to a server that promises minimal dips in service.

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Laptop

While I did say it’s important to get that office feel going within your home, sometimes you need a change of scenery. With a laptop, you can do work from anywhere in the house (and beyond). On those nice days, instead of sulking in your room, take it outside and soak up some sun while you work on those spreadsheets. Just make sure you’re still within range of your Wi-Fi connection!

Bluetooth Headset

Any handless set will do, actually. Since you’ll likely be communicating with coworkers and supervisors over the phone throughout the day, you’ll want to be able to do so without tying up your hands or cricking your neck for hours on end. If it’s not too cumbersome, you don’t even need to take it off after you hang up; it’ll probably ring again soon enough, anyway.

Multifunction Printer

If you’ve ever dealt with a less-than-stellar printer, you know how frustrating they can be. Invest in a worthwhile printer that also works as a copier and scanner. And make sure you know exactly how to use it. Nothing gets in the way of a productive day like a paper jam.

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Alarm Clock

Since you’re working from home and have little to no physical contact with others around you, you’ll need to make sure to keep track of your time for a variety of reasons. For one, you need to manage your own time efficiently; you won’t have a boss constantly pushing you to finish a project by a specific time.  You also won’t have much frame of reference when it comes to taking a lunch break or when it’s time to quit. A large, visible clock will help make sure you always know when it’s time for happy hour.

Surge Protector

You have all these electronic devices, so of course you’ll need a surge protector. Not only will it give you a much larger number of outlets to utilize, but it will protect your sensitive and expensive electronics from surges (duh!). Beware: not all power strips are surge protectors, so make sure you check the box carefully when picking one out.

Ergonomic chair

You’re going to be spending a lot of time sitting, so you need to make sure you’re comfortable. Along with everything else that comes with an ergonomic setup, your chair is possibly the most important piece of the puzzle. Your back will thank you in the long run.

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Flash drive/File cabinet

These two go together like Forrest and Jenny. Simply put, you need a flash drive or external hard drive for your electronic data, and a file cabinet for your physical papers. Make sure you set an encryption password for your flash drive, and you have a lock for your file cabinet, too. Flash drives are incredibly easy to lose, and if your house is ever broken into, your file cabinet might hold some valuable information that you don’t want to fall into the wrong hands.

Paper shredder

Speaking of having documents fall into the wrong hands, you can prevent this happening by destroying discarded papers beyond recognition. It might be loud and obnoxious, but your boss would be much louder if he found out you lost an important piece of information. Just shred it and be done with it.

Pen and paper

Ah, old trusty. Ever since I started writing online, I’ve gone through about five or six different notebooks. There’s just something about getting your thoughts out on paper before you transfer them to the computer. It helps your ideas flow more freely, and you don’t have to focus on formatting or frozen programs. Just make sure you have a special, lockable place for your notebooks when you’re done using them.

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Featured photo credit: Home Office v 2.0 / Erik Eckel via farm2.staticflickr.com

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Matt Duczeminski

A passionate writer who shares lifestlye tips on Lifehack

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

More on the Importance of Taking a Break

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

Reference

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