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8 Tips to Set Up Your Home Office for Serious Productivity

8 Tips to Set Up Your Home Office for Serious Productivity

Productivity flourishes in environments where creative thoughts bloom, distractions are minimized, and healthy atmospheres invigorate us. Many modern workplaces are cleverly designed for employee productivity, but our home offices lack these innovations. Luckily, those of us who work from home can learn a lot from the revolutionary designs of green, organized, and innovative workspaces.

Whether you’re starting your own business, you work from home full time, or you occasionally conduct business from your home office, you can benefit from optimizing your workspace for serious productivity using these tips.

1. Incorporate Your Own Style

According to a study from the University of Exeter, making design decisions about your workspace improves productivity, as well as health and happiness. In fact, the participants were found to have increased productivity of 32%.

Before you hire an interior designer to make design decisions for you, think about your personal style. Do you like urban decor, art deco, modern country, or shabby chic? What types of personal items inspire you in your workspace? Do personal keepsakes make you motivated and happy? These individual touches will make you more comfortable in your space, which boosts productivity.

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2. Apply Principles of Feng Shui When Positioning Your Desk

If your workspace is making you feel sluggish rather than energized, consider rearranging it according to Feng shui practices. Feng shui is a practice that applies spatial arrangement and energy balance for optimum design and layout. The Chinese have been utilizing it for 6000 years. Feng shui practitioners believe that positive energy comes from the flow of good chi, and if the arrangement of your workspace blocks the flow of it, energy levels are negatively affected.

According to Feng shui practitioners, it’s important to place your desk in a “commanding position.” This position requires that your back does not face the door and that your desk isn’t near the door. The best position is diagonal to the room’s entrance with you facing the door. It’s preferable to have strong backing placed behind you, such as a solid wall, rather than an opening or window.

3. Utilize the Color Green in Your Home Office

Choosing the right paint colors for your home office can stimulate your creativity and productivity. According to Feng shui, green is associated with growth and decisiveness. Green brings forth feelings of calm. Moreover, a study from Stephanie Lichtenfeld at the University of Munich concludes that the color green might awaken creative performance. In the study, researchers found that a glimpse of green spurs “the type of pure, open (mental) processing required to do well on creativity tasks.”

If painting your entire office green doesn’t please you, you can still reap the benefits by painting an accent wall green. Plants and other accessories are also excellent additions for introducing green into your home office.

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4. Include Natural Light and Proper Lighting in Your Home Office

A study from Carnegie Mellon University indicates that higher lighting levels and daylight simulating fixtures can improve productivity. Furthermore, in a study investigating daylighting in schools, students who studied in classrooms with the largest windows progressed 15% faster in math and 23% faster in reading than those with the lower levels of daylight.

When working from a home office, you have the luxury of choosing where your office is located to optimize light levels and natural light. Locating your office where you receive natural light is a great strategy to boost your productivity. For example, windows that face towards the south give you abundant sunshine, which is especially important during the winter months.

Improper lighting can cause eye fatigue and drowsiness, which hinders productivity. The hue of light is also a factor to take into consideration. Warm color temperatures are calming, while cool color temperatures stimulate productivity. Choosing an LED task light that allows you to change color temperature settings gives you the flexibility to select a suitable light for the task at hand.

5. Incorporate a Standing Desk

You might believe that using a standing desk is a just a trend, but did you know that it can actually increase productivity? According to this article, sitting during most of the day can decrease productivity significantly due to obesity, cardiovascular issues, and our relaxed frame of mind while sitting.

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However, many who have incorporated standing desks report foot and back pain as well as achy legs. The key to avoiding this type of fatigue is to alternate standing with sitting throughout the day. Slowly work up to a goal of standing approximately four hours daily. Furthermore, choose appropriate footwear with proper support when standing. Utilize a motorized standing desk that can be easily adjusted to a standing or sitting position. Although, these motorized desks can be expensive. As an alternative, you can purchase a standing desk on wheels to use on and off throughout the day. Another option is a tabletop standing desk that sits on top of a traditional desk.

6. Clear Your Home Office of Clutter

When your workspace is free of clutter, your mind can think clearly. The first step in clearing your office of clutter is to simply rid yourself of items that you don’t need.

As for the items you wish to save that you don’t use every day, there are many organizing products that are specifically designed to organize them. Clustering your items into groups helps you find items when you need them because it’s easy to remember where they’re located. Utilize filing cabinets, decorative baskets, and other holders. These organizing items can be both pleasing to the eye and functional. Hence, attractive and organized spaces improve your happiness and productivity.

7. Ensure Your Home Office is a Dedicated and Private Space

Distractions from family members, pets, and televisions can hamper your productivity. Have you ever participated in a conference call from home and your dog barks at a delivery person or your children interrupt you? It’s embarrassing and it hinders productivity of the entire team involved. For these reasons, if you work from home, a private office is a necessity.

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Set up a dedicated home office in the quietest area of your home, which is away from the bustle of everyday life. If a private office is not possible for you, consider purchasing a room divider or shoji screen to cut out the distractions at your home. Ensure family members respect your private time by using a visual cue, such as a “Do Not Disturb” sign, especially when participating on audio and video calls.

8. Improve Your Home’s Air Quality

According to a study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and SUNY-Upstate Medical School, those who work in green environments with better air quality have higher cognitive functioning scores, compared to those working in conventional airtight environments with poorer air quality. The green buildings use low emitting materials and increase outdoor air, which result in reduced VOC (volatile organic compounds) and CO2 (carbon dioxide) exposures.

In most home environments, these chemicals are found to be low. However, if you want to improve indoor air quality, there are small things that you can do. For example, the use of indoor plants improves air quality. In addition, keeping your environment clean through frequent vacuuming using a HEPA filter and dusting with non-toxic cleaners results in better air quality. Furthermore, letting in fresh air by opening windows and using ceiling fans to improve air circulation can also be also beneficial.

Featured photo credit: blupics/Home Office | San Francisco via flic.kr

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Marilyn Rogers

Marketing Consultant | Content Strategist | Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on October 17, 2018

7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

How is your memory? Is your cognitive function as strong as you’d like it to be?

If not, then you’re definitely going to be interested in the memory improvement tips I’ll be sharing with you in this article.

Despite what you might think – or have been told – improving your ability to recall information is certainly possible. You just need to know the right ways to do it. (Don’t worry, as you won’t need to make any significant lifestyle changes.)

So how to improve memory? Let’s dive straight into the first of seven easy ways to improve your memory significantly.

1. Meditate

We live in a world of non-stop, 24/7 information. It’s like a waterfall that’s endlessly pouring news, data, facts and figures into our conscious minds.

Unfortunately, our brains are not designed to absorb this tremendous amount of information. It’s no wonder then, that most people struggle to remember information and recall things.

Even if you believe you have a good memory and are comfortable with multi-tasking, you’ll also be aware that there’s only so much information your brain can process at one time. And research suggests that the more information and distractions, the harder it is for you to transfer information to your long-term memory.[1]

Fortunately, meditation can help you out.

Even if you just meditate for 10 minutes per day, you’ll boost your ability to focus, which in turn, will make it easier for you to remember important facts.

If you need help in shifting into a meditative state, I recommend trying an app like Headspace – which can assist you to achieve this in a convenient and structured way.

And don’t forget, meditation doesn’t just have to be closing your eyes and sitting in a lotus position. Some people prefer to simply take a short walk in nature. This clears and calms their mind, and still provides the all-important boost to their focus.

2. Get plenty of sleep

If you’re sleep deprived or have not been sleeping well, then I’m guessing you’re not remembering well either. This is because sleep and memory are intimately connected.

If you have a busy life and regularly find yourself not getting enough sleep, then this will negatively impact your cognitive abilities – including your memory.

How much sleep should you be getting?

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Well, according to the National Sleep Foundation, you need a minimum of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If you get this amount of sleep regularly, then within just a few days, you’ll see a tangible improvement to your ability to remember and recall things.

Now, I’ll be honest with you, maintaining a proper sleep cycle is not always easy (especially when the latest Netflix series has just been released!). But if you care about improving your short-term and long-term ability to remember things, then it’s critical that you try to get at least the recommended amount of sleep every night.

Are there ways to hack the sleep cycle?

Yes, there are.

Try these three things:

  • Have a fixed bedtime (preferably before 10pm)
  • Don’t eat too late
  • Make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible

Sleeping is a precious activity. It regenerates your body, clears your mind, and helps with the storing and retrieval of information.

However, don’t sleep just yet, as I want to tell you about another great way to increase memory…

3. Challenge your brain

When was the last time you challenged your brain?

I don’t mean challenged in the sense of overeating or undersleeping. I’m referring to stretching your mental capabilities through things like crossword puzzles, Sudoku and memory games.

To expand your memory bank, and to make your recall razor-sharp, you need to continually challenge your brain.

Feedback from Lifehack readers such as yourself, has suggested that brain training apps are a super-effective way of doing this. Used regularly, these apps can enhance your focus, attention span, problem-thinking ability and memory.

There are hundreds of these apps available (most of them for free), but I recommend starting out with one of the big three:

  • Peak (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
  • Lumosity (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
  • Elevate (Android/iOS, free, 5 million+ downloads)

If you normally spend a chunk of your week playing computer games, then instead of shooting and killing your enemies, why not let some of them live – while you put your attention into boosting your brain power!

Challenging your brain will strengthen your neural pathways and enhance your mental abilities. But don’t just take my word for it, try one of the apps above and see the positive benefits for yourself.

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4. Take more breaks

When I think back to my days as a budding entrepreneur, I distinctively remember working all the hours under the sun – and many under the moon too!

At that time, I believed that breaks were for the weak, and to become wealthy and successful, I needed to shed blood, sweat and tears.

However, I was wrong.

Taking regular breaks is the best way to keep yourself productive, creative and alive to opportunities. It’s also the best way to learn new information.

Let me explain.

Typically, when studying lots of new information, most people will spend hours reading it – in an attempt to learn and remember the content as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, they’ve overlooked something.

Namely, extended study sessions are rarely a good thing, as your ability to retain information naturally declines after a certain period of time.

It’s similar to physical exercise. You wouldn’t attempt to train vigorously for four hours in a row. Instead, you’d take regular breaks to give your lungs, heart and muscles adequate time to recover. Failing to do this will result in muscle cramps and overexertion.

It’s the same with your brain. If you overload it with information, you’ll suffer from mental fatigue.

What’s the answer?

Make sure you take regular breaks when learning new information. I recommend at least a 10-minute break every hour. (You may also want to take a look at the Pomodoro Method.)

If you don’t want to be as regimented as that, then take breaks as soon as you find yourself losing the ability to focus on the new material. Your brain will thank you – and your learning aptitude will move up a level.

5. Learn a new skill

I love this quote, as it’s 100% true – but frequently overlooked:

“Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci

From my experience of helping to develop the careers of dozens of Lifehack employees, I can definitively say that participating in meaningful and purposeful activities stimulates the mind. It also reduces stress and enhances health and well-being.

Let me give you an example of this:

Imagine you work for a global financial institution in one of their call centers. You take over 100 calls a day – many of them complaints. When you started the job a few months back, you were excited to be in full-time employment and working for a household name.

Unfortunately, your initial enthusiasm quickly turned into frustration.

The endless complaint calls began to take their toll on you. And the supervisors irritated you too, as they were far too interested in micro-managing you – rather than letting you work in your own way.

Now, in the story above, the ending could be that you put up with a job you didn’t like, and led a dull and frustrated working life for years and years. However, an alternative ending is this: you channeled your dissatisfaction in to learning a new skill (computer coding). It took you a year or two to get up to speed, but it allowed you to successfully upgrade your career – and the ongoing learning made the call centre job much more bearable.

Clearly, learning new skills gives you impetus, focus and something to aim for. Your brain loves to learn, and you should tap into this by always seeking our new information. And when learning becomes a habit, you’ll find your ability to remember and recall things effortlessly, becomes a habit too.

6. Start working out

If you’re not already working out regularly, then here’s another reason to do so:

Exercising for 20-30 minutes three times a week will improve your long-term memory.

Regular exercise increases blood flow in your body and supplies the brain with extra oxygen and nutrients. And a well-nourished brain is a well-functioning brain!

“But I just don’t have the time?,” I hear you say.

Not a problem.

A research has shown that a daily burst of 60 seconds of high-intensity exercise, offered many of the benefits of the longer exercise routines.[2] So, if you’re short on time – now you know what to do.

Interested in getting started?

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Here are five different ways that will help you work out:

  • Join a gym
  • Join a sports team
  • Buy a bike
  • Take up hiking
  • Dance to your favorite music

7. Eat healthier foods

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: “You are what you eat.”

This applies to your brain too.

The food that you eat helps determine your brain’s capacity to store and recall information. A poor diet (think junk food + soda!) harms not just your physical health, but your mental health too.

Fortunately, there are several foods that are especially good for your brain and your memory. These include: blueberries, celery and dark chocolate. But anything high in antioxidants will have a positive effect on your brain and memory.

Conversely, highly-processed foods and those loaded with sugar will have a negative impact on your memory. This is due to them providing insufficient nutrients for your brain – leading you to easily suffer from mental fatigue.

Want to be mentally healthy? Then eat and drink an abundance of these for brain health:

  • Turmeric – helps new brain cells grown
  • Broccoli – protects the brain against damage
  • Nuts – improves memory
  • Green tea – enhances brain performance, memory and focus[3]
  • Fish oilfish oil supplements can increase your brain power

Here’re more brain food options that improve memory!

Final thoughts

I sincerely hope these seven memory boosting ways that I’ve covered in this article will be of help to you.

You don’t need to implement them all. I suggest just trying the ones that appeal to you.

But, if you’re serious about dramatically improving your memory, then make a start right now on adopting one or more of the ways I’ve suggested. I’m confident you won’t regret it.

Featured photo credit: Eric Ward via unsplash.com

Reference

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