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7 Simple Ways To Ramp Up Productivity In Your Home Office

7 Simple Ways To Ramp Up Productivity In Your Home Office
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Big businesses are rapidly realizing something that self-employed workers have known for ages: allowing employees to work remotely does great things for productivity and happiness. According to GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com, the percent of non-self-employed people who work from home has more than doubled over the last 10 years. What’s more, the average business saves approximately $11,000 per telecommuter annually, and nearly 70 percent of companies report increased productivity from their virtual workers.

However, the success of remote working depends a lot on the home office environment. Whether you have been working from home for years or are new to virtual employment, a positive work-from-home experience starts with a smartly assembled workspace. Here are seven easy ways to create the ultimate remote work setup.

1. Declutter

Clutter can infest your space with distractions and have a profound effect on your mood. To combat this, examine your home office and remove items that don’t belong, paying particular attention to your desktop or other work surfaces. Use of a variety of storage containers and desk accessories to keep the things you need handy but out of sight.

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Tip: If your office is tight on floor space, use a combination of shelving and wall pockets to organize your essentials.

2. Incorporate a personal touch

You spend a lot of time in your office, so creating a personal and positive space is well worth the effort. Start by establishing a cohesive home office style that you identify with, and then add inspirational décor that works with that theme. Whether you’re motivated by pet pictures, encouraging quotes, or vacation mementoes, a few carefully selected items can arouse positive vibes even on the worst of days.

Tip: For virtual work that requires a heavy dose of creativity or focus, consider changing the color scheme of your office. Different hues provide a range of psychological boosts — white is great for fostering imagination, for example, whereas blue can help promote a calm and centered mentality.

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3. Improve area lighting

Lighting is an underestimated element of a productive workspace. A dimly lit office not only increases eye fatigue, but it can also make you sleepy and negatively impact your mood. In addition to adjusting the ceiling-mounted fixtures that illuminate your office, it’s important to make use of task lights as well. These smaller lights can help ensure that your desk or other work area is sufficiently well-lit, improving both attitude and performance.

Tip: An LED dimming system is an easy and energy-efficient way to change the level of lighting in your home office as needed throughout the day.

4. Update your technology

As a virtual worker, you probably rely heavily on technology, which means keeping devices up-to-date is paramount to productivity. Whether it’s a printer you are always troubleshooting or software you have outgrown, make some time to evaluate your home office technology and upgrade tools as necessary. Plenty of new office tech products are released every year, so stay on top of recent developments to really enhance your work environment.

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Tip: You might not realize it, but a slow Internet connection may be hampering your efficiency. Test your Internet speed to find out if your connection is sufficient.

5. Elevate your computer

Hunching over a computer every day can ruin your posture and lead to an array of neck and back problems. Using a computer stand to elevate your laptop or mounting your desktop monitor to a more comfortable viewing height can help alleviate these issues. You’ll be surprised at how much more enjoyable work is when you don’t have to worry about physical strain.

Tip: Increase your comfort further by investing in a quality desk chair that provides ample support for your lower back. Or, if you want your workspace to double as a workout space, use a stability ball to help strengthen your core muscles.

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6. Play some tunes

A number of reports indicate that listening to certain types of music can boost productivity, creativity, and memory. Capitalize on this by purchasing high-quality speakers and using an app like Spotify to create playlists for different work-related jobs. Upbeat tunes are preferred for redundant tasks, and soothing music is the best choice for brainstorming and creativity.

Tip: When playing background music, stay away from songs with lyrics, as they can be distracting. Instead, listen to natural sounds, like a babbling brook or ocean waves.

7. Add plants

Adding plants to your home office will make the space feel more warm and welcoming. Potted plants also provide a natural way to help filter air and replenish oxygen — English ivy and golden pothos are two particularly excellent plant purifiers. If you don’t have a green thumb, opt for a more resilient plant, like a small cactus or succulent.

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Tip: For a dose of aromatherapy, place a planter of lavender near your desk. The scent can help relieve stress and promote uplifting thoughts. Creating the perfect home work environment can be tricky, even if you’re a virtual veteran. Try a few of these simple suggestions to figure out what works best for you. In a matter of days, you could be working in a dynamic home office that catapults both your productivity and your happiness.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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