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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 August 16, 2018

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

How about a unique spin on things?

These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

1. Empty your mind.

It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

2. Keep certain days clear.

Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

3. Prioritize your work.

Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

4. Chop up your time.

Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

5. Have a thinking position.

Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

7. Don’t try to do too much.

OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

8. Have a daily action plan.

Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

9. Do your most dreaded project first.

Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

11. Have a place devoted to work.

If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

12. Find your golden hour.

You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

14. Never stop.

Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

15. Be in tune with your body.

Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

16. Try different methods.

Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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