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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 April 22, 2021

How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

Habits are what sets an average leader apart from a great leader. We can argue that talent is the biggest factor; we may debate how the amount of charisma sets the two apart. Yet, if you were to show me what you believed to be a great leader, I can show you the habits that made her/him great. Great leaders have great habits and know how to work hard the smart way.

Developing Great Habits Is Hard Work

In my early college days, I had spent a lot of time learning how to play the trumpet. Playing the trumpet took time and discipline. I had some natural talent, but not enough to hide my lack of ability. My trumpet teacher was a man of discipline, and there was no doubt he had talent. What stood to me was his work ethic. He had to be one of the hardest working mentors that I had the privilege of working with.

One afternoon, I was in his office getting ready for my weekly trumpet lesson. As I was preparing, my eyes scanned the room and saw that there were quotes all over his office. My eyes rested on one quote that forever changed my thinking about my playing. It was a quote from my high school basketball coach Tim Notke that would become popular through professional athletes Kevin Durant and Tim Tebow:

“Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”

Hard work trumps talent. The key to success is not found in your talent or ability. Talent and ability are necessary, but they are not the primary factors. They are supporting roles in the story you are writing.

Ultimately, hard work is the key to your success. A good work ethic creates the momentum that propels you forward towards your goals.

Motivation Is Not the Answer

How many times have you seen someone go to a conference, get inspired, and then come home and do nothing?

If motivation were the answer, the world would have transformed hundreds of times over. Yet, when we look out our doors or turn on the news, we do not see a utopian society.

We have thousands of people who become inspired but lack the work ethic to apply anything they have learned. Time and time again frustration creeps in. We are so motivated and inspired by what we see but fail to put in place the things that would change our lives.

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Frustration happens when the gap between what you expect to be true and what is true gets bigger. Motivation tends to create an expectation that is not rooted in reality. We want to take on the world but cannot get off Netflix long enough to do so.

Motivation is not the answer, but working hard is. Good habits and routines that produce success are the byproducts of a strong work ethic. The habits and routines we create and follow are the foundation on which we build a winning life.

How to Work Hard by Working Smarter

Here are 4 routines that will help you learn how to work hard and achieve your short term and long term goals.

1. Define What a Win Looks Like

In football, a player that crosses into the end zone gain points. In soccer, a player kicks the ball into the net to score. Hockey, lacrosse, and basketball are all the same. The player takes the object and moves it into the designated area to gain points. The team with the most points wins the game.

Why is it that we can define what a win looks like in sports, but we fail to do so in our leadership, our businesses, or our homes?

Learning how to work hard without setting a target is futile. It is insanity to work hard without having a clear direction to place your energy. I would argue that defining a win is one of the most important routines that a leader can have. Defining a win separates superficial activity from meaningful activity.

When I define a win, I know the goal line I have to cross[1]. Knowing where the goal line is informs me of the activity I have to engage in to cross it. Without a clear direction, I am spinning my wheels hoping that I will get to a destination I haven’t defined. It is like asking a GPS for directions but failing to input the destination.

4 Steps to Define a Win
  • Know the outcome you desire.
  • Declare the outcome in specific, meaningful terms.
  • Write the outcome down.
  • Set your activity list to only do that which will complete your goals.

Let me give you an example. 15 years ago, I started speaking professionally. As a young and naïve speaker, I thought winning meant that I had to get a reaction from the audience. If they cheered, smiled, or cried, I considered myself a winner. The problem was my lack of understanding of what a win looked like. As a seasoned speaker, my wins look different.

As of today, when I speak, I am not looking for any emotional reactions from the audience. I win if, and only if, I clearly communicated my point so that anyone hearing the talk can take it and apply it to their lives that day. That is how I define a win when I speak now.

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Create a habit of declaring a win. When you do, you will see your productivity soar and your encouragement increase. Pairing a hard work ethic with wise decisions creates victory. Stop being a mouse on a wheel that goes nowhere, and start being the captain of your fleet.

2. Evaluate Your Activity

Not all activity is equal. There are things you must do, things you need to do, and things we can either give away or delete. The greatest challenge of a leader is understanding the difference. Understanding what activity is busywork and what activity is mission work is pivotal.

Not only do we need to learn how to evaluate our activity, but we must make this a core routine in our arsenal of success. Stop working so hard on everything and start learning how to work hard on the right things.

Not every activity will move the needle forward for you. In fact, you were never meant to do everything yourself! Once we stop trying to be a martyr in our leadership, we can start looking at how to take things off our plates through delegation.

Based on the Eisenhower box, there are 4 things that we look at when deciding on which activities are important:

  • Do now
  • Plan to do it later
  • Delegate to someone else
  • Delete it

Powerful questions are the way you discover if the activity is right or not:

  • Does this activity move me towards or away from my goals?
  • Do I have to do this activity or can I give this activity away to someone else?
  • Does this activity have to be now right now or can it be scheduled for later dates?
  • Does this activity have to be done at all?

Evaluating the type of activity you engage in should be a routine that you do daily. Learning how to work hard should create progress. Having a system of evaluation and a routine to do it will help.

3. Prioritize Your Calendar

If you were to show me your calendar, I could show you why you are not further along. When you lack the routine of placing things on your calendar, two things happen.

First, what does not make it on your calendar does not get done.

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It is a simple truth that is often overlooked. Your calendar contains the power to change your life. Yet, we don’t use our calendars to their fullest potential.

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” -John C. Maxwell

Also, if you don’t mark you activities on your calendar, you are leaving it open to other’s priorities.

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” -Stephen Covey

Having a routine in your life where you place things on your calendar is pivotal to your success. This is not a routine one should overlook.

It’s time to take your leadership and business to the next level. It’s time to start putting your daily routines on your calendar, along with your priorities.

4. Reflect on Your Day and Plan the Next

We are all about the morning routine. Whatever that looks like for you, there should be a routine in the morning that sets you up for success.

Hard work starts when your feet hit the ground in the morning. Creating the habit of winning starts with the first thing you accomplish that morning. If you win your morning, you will win your day.

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Best Morning Routine to Prepare to Work Hard

    But how often have you heard people talk about an evening routine? Tomorrow is won the day before it happens. When you fail to plan your day, you may put your effort toward in the wrong things. Route replaces routine. Indecision replaces decisiveness. Losses replace wins. The discouragement will deflate your momentum and increases the chances of procrastination. That is why we set our schedule the night before.

    “Every battle is won or lost before it is ever fought.” -Sun Tzu

    Working hard doesn’t have to be hard work. It shouldn’t take much out of you learn how to work hard as long as you work smart. Having a time where you reflect on the day and set your priorities is the difference-maker.

    Use these questions to reflect on your day:

    • What went well?
    • What didn’t go well?
    • What can I change?
    • What do I need to start doing?
    • What do I need to stop doing?

    The Bottom Line

    Navigating through life is hard work. Yet, the work doesn’t have to be hard when you work smarter. When you create routines that support your mission, you create wins. Working hard, the smart way will tip the balance in our favor.

    Boxing legend Joe Frazier said:

    “Champions aren’t made in the ring; they are merely recognized there.”

    Champions put in the hard work behind the scenes. The world recognized them as a champion when they saw the results of the hard work. Right now, you are doing the work of creating a champion in yourself.

    That work is setting your routines in order because you now know that success flows from your daily routines. If you are not experiencing the success you desire, then it is time to change things up.

    More on Creating Healthy Routines

    Featured photo credit: Zan via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] The Balance Careers: Interview Question: “How Do You Define Success?”

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