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Published on April 29, 2020

20 Easy Home Office Organization Ideas to Boost Your Productivity

20 Easy Home Office Organization Ideas to Boost Your Productivity

Working from home at first sounds glamorous. Making your own hours, being your own boss (in some cases), amongst other things. But when you get to work, you can find plenty of issues. One of the big challenges is productivity.

As someone who’s been working from home for a pretty long time, I’ve come to understand how important an organization is. For a time when I was so focused on work, my office would become a mess as I prioritized work over keeping things clean. It wasn’t the brightest of ideas once I reorganized my life and my workspace.

So to help you not fall into the same trap, here are some tools and home office organization ideas to get you organised.

Before Anything, Do These Things…

But before I get to the suggested items, there are some important things to go over. These tips will help you in determining what to buy and what’s worth the investment. Even though many have gotten stimulus cheques, it’s key that you spread them out and make them last.

With this in mind, here are some ideas:

  • Take inventory – Before buying, figure out what you have and what you need. Remove items that don’t make you productive or are in the way and assess after that.
  • Stretch the tools – Look for items that go above and beyond organizing. For example, bins are great for piling up paper, but getting dividers can save you office space and give you the same results.
  • Make sure everything is visible and accessible – Organized means many things for people. To me, all that matters is you organize in a way where you can get easy access and that it’s visible.

With these in mind, here are 20 suggestions:

1. For Better Posture, Get A Monitor Stand

When sitting at a desk, posture matters. Speaking from my own experiences, poor posture did leave me to be unproductive as I suffered from back pain. It was unbearable especially when I was working long hours.

One simple way to improve your posture is through monitor stands. These elevate your monitor so that it’s on eye level. This means you can sit in your chair properly without having to look down or up and strain your neck or back.

From boxes to books, you can improvise a monitor stand if need be. Though I’d recommend getting a proper monitor stand like AmazonBasics Wood Monitor Stand with a Computer Riser.

    2. For Extra Space, Get Some Shelves

    Your desk is where work happens and it can build up with clutter when you least expect it. Clutter curbs productivity so anything that can expand your space is good. One such option is through shelving.

    The amount of shelving space differs, of course, though extra space is still extra space. If you can, some simple shelving space works. If you’re in an apartment or aren’t able to nail shelves, there are several nailless options too.

      3. For Desks Without Shelves, There Are Undershelf Baskets

      Storage is most important but there are some things that you want to be keeping close. Furthermore, you want to have some items off your desk and within arms-reach.

      While you could use the assistance of drawers, drawers can be used to store larger things. Or if your desk doesn’t have any, this particular item will help in this scenario. Enter undershelf baskets.

      So long as your desk is built to have the basket slide in, you can create extra shelving that’s compact and not intrusive. I recommend going to metal under shelf baskets as they are sturdier.

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        4. Use Drawer Dividers to Divide Supplies

        Depending on what you are working on and how you use your desk, drawers are extra space for more than just files. Sometimes you’ve got office supplies that are thrown in drawers or maybe other tools you use for work.

        Regardless, having drawer dividers is one way to keep everything organized in one place. At least in terms of the smaller items that you want off your desk. My suggestion for a drawer divider is to get the Amazon Basics brand version as it’s cheap, versatile, and simple.

          5. Use Binder Clips to Keep Wires Tidy

          Depending on the structure of your desk, this idea could work for you in staying more organized. What binder clips have to do with this is that binder clips can be very good at keeping wires off your desk space and out of sight.

          Since there are so many devices these days that use wires, a desk can quickly get cluttered and can cause undue stress to you. Binder clips – especially ones with different shapes and sizes – are a good alternative to keeping various wires and cords out of sight.

            6. Use Labels to Name Important Cords

            Another way to organize office space is by labelling them. For those who have a lot of cords, putting cord labels on them can help remove stress in several ways.

            For example, if you’re someone who uses a lot of plugs, a labelling system can ensure that you know what is plugged in at the time. It also helps when swapping out plugs from other sockets. If all the wires and plugs look similar you could pull the wrong one.

            By labelling cords, you’re removing the guesswork and saving time by not pulling out the wrong plug. Labels make it quick and easy to identify which is which.

              7. Have Thoughts, Ideas, or Tasks? Jot Them Down

              Going paperless is ideal, but not everyone is willing to take that leap. Some people, myself included, enjoy the feel of writing down in a notebook to some capacity.

              My recommendation is the Productivity Planner as it can serve as a daily planner. Compared to an ordinary notebook, this provides specific space for you to write out what you want to get done. While a typical notebook works too, it can get cluttered, unlike this notebook.

                Notebooks are essential pieces to productivity as it organizes your thoughts. Similar to a cluttered desk, if your mind is scattered, it’ll be distracting.

                8. Want to Move Things Around? Try Casters

                Casters can be an unusual organizational tool on the surface however they are very good at a specific task. That task being when you need to move your desk for whatever reason. I’ve also found many start-up companies using this trick as well.

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                These casters are sturdy and make moving a desk around easy. This boosts productivity because you’re spending less time reorganizing your home office rather than working.

                  This idea has done wonders for startups since casters have made it easier to move desks together for collaboration efforts. While we’re still in isolation, casters can make it easy to move your desk to avoid distractions. Maybe you work near a window where the sun gets in your eyes. Moving your desk to a better location is a solution and it’s a lot easier when the desk is on wheels.

                  9. Need a Designated Spot for Items? A Landing Pad

                  There is some flexibility with this item as there are many ways to create “a landing pad”. What this basically means is a place on your desk where things are permitted to be on your desk.

                  This spot is small, but how you make it is up to you. You can dedicate the desk tray to this spot, or you can use duck tape to mark a spot on top of your desk.

                  By having a dedicated spot to place items and having it loom over you serves as a reminder to keep your space clean. While cleaning does break up your flow, if you’re someone who uses things once and doesn’t place them away, the pile of stuff can become more distracting and disruptive.

                  By having a specific spot for items after they’re used, you can quickly retrieve those items or put them away in little time.

                    10. Some Greens in the Office Boost Productivity

                    While plants should remain off your desk, they do boost productivity. Research has found that having a plant in the workplace improves memory retention amongst other things[1].

                    The biggest reason to have plants is they add more color to the office atmosphere without being too distracting. Paired up with some of the other benefits plants bring, it makes sense to have something small and easy to take care of. My suggestion is these succulent plants along with any other leafy green plant.

                      11. A Compact Storage Space on Your Desk

                      I’ve mentioned various iterations of this through a landing pad or even a drawer divider. That said, a desk organizer is more compact than a drawer divider and a good place to store smaller items – like office supplies – while saving your landing pad for larger items.

                      Amazon Basics has a solid option for desk organizers since they are cheap and a good alternative for the aforementioned methods.

                        12. A Photo to Remind You Why You Work

                        In the 80s, people thought the less personal you are the more productive you’ll be. That, however, isn’t the truth as pictures represent who we are and play a significant role in how well you can work [2].

                        One picture should be enough so long as you make it meaningful to you. The reason this works is that pictures invoke emotions and when you have a picture reminding you why you work, it means you’re working for a purpose. In other words, a picture can remind you of your goals and give you direction. All that matters after that is getting it in a nice picture frame. Here are some cheap and appealing options.

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                          13. Stay Hydrated with a Nearby Water Bottle

                          Staying hydrated is essential since our body does need water to survive. Researchers have also found that by drinking water, you are boosting your mental performance as well [3].

                          At the same time, dehydration can lead to fatigue and getting less done. So drink up! One way to help with that is to invest in a water bottle with time marker and keep it around your desk.

                          The marker on the bottle indicates how much water you should’ve had at various points throughout the day. There are other more sophisticated water bottles that do the same thing, but this is one of the cheaper options.

                            14. A 60 Minute Timer to Practice an Effective Productivity Hack

                            A common productivity hack is the Pomodoro technique. It’s a technique where you spend 20 minutes focusing on a task and then spending 20 minutes on something else. It’s an effective productivity technique, though I often find 20 minutes to not be enough during certain tasks.

                            To properly use this technique, you’ll want a kitchen timer rather than using your phone. While your phone does the same thing, it can be distracting. By having the Zyyini Kitchen Timer, you can set it up to 60 minutes if need be.

                              15. Accessorize and Make Shelving With Pegboards

                              While getting some strong and sturdy shelves is a viable option, you may find pegboards to be a better option. Especially if you are someone who wants to add more flair to your environment.

                              Pegboards are easy to put up, though require additional costs since you’ll need to get hooks and extra bins too. This pegboard though is cheap and offers a respectable size for the price.

                              Pegboards serve as a more customizable shelving unit. It’s customizable since you can decorate it as well and have it pop out more compared to stacking items on shelves. Of course, this also frees up space on your desk, though significantly more than what a single shelf can do if you’re smart about that space too.

                                16. Shed Some Light With an Adjustable Lamp

                                Proper lighting to see what you are doing makes sense. The only drawback is having a desk lamp takes up space and can often be intrusive too. To keep up with the policy of having a clean desk, my suggestion is an adjustable floor lamp.

                                They are at a higher pricing point overall, but this option is well worth the investment. Furthermore, the fact you can adjust lighting is good for how you are working as well. The more you able to adjust and customize, the more of a benefit an item can bring.

                                  17. Have Reminders With Bulletin Boards

                                  While this provides the same benefits as both shelves and pegboards, a bulletin board is still a wise investment. They are cheaper alternatives to shelves and pegboards while providing similar functions.

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                                  And even if you do have shelves or a pegboard, a bulletin board can serve as reminders for daily tasks or a source of motivation. Similar to vision boards, these can be a collection of pictures and quotes to get you excited and motivated.

                                    18. Have Comfort With an Office Chair

                                    One of the most expensive items on this list for good reason. A chair is everything if you are someone who works at a desk. If you are going cheap on a chair, you’re losing a lot in both comfort and productivity. If you’re not comfortable, it means your body is hurting and if your body is hurting, the pain will distract you from work.

                                    While sitting in a chair for several hours is going to affect anyone, you still want comfort to be in mind. And that means being comfortable paying at least a few hundred dollars for a good chair that’ll last you for years to come.

                                    My suggestion is one of Realspace’s chairs. They are on the cheaper end for high valued chairs and provide great comfort.

                                      19. Headphones to Block out Noises and Distractions

                                      Even when working in a home office, there are sounds that can be distracting. These things can break your concentration and momentum if you are deep in thought and focus.

                                      One way to mitigate these distractions is by getting some headphones. Ideally, those that cancel out noises since they will muffle your hearing and thus the odds of getting distracted. I’d recommend Sony MDRZX110NC Noise Cancelling Headphones.

                                        Also, just because you have headphones doesn’t mean you have to listen to music. Actually, it’s better if you don’t listen to music at all. According to Daniel Levitin, listening to music doesn’t help while wearing headphones as is will.[4]

                                        20. Add a Little Personality With a Mouse Pad

                                        Everyone knows that color has a psychological impact on both our mood and productivity. While every item mentioned thus far has customization, let’s not forget about the mouse pad.

                                        Mouses on wood aren’t the best. You can scratch the wood and sometimes moving the mouse can be a pain due to the surface. A mousepad makes it smoother and doesn’t damage the desk.

                                        But you can go one step farther by making the mousepad customizable. You can make it a color of your choice, or it could be used as an extra picture, boosting your motivation by serving as a reminder as well.

                                          The Bottom Line

                                          With more people working out of their homes, organization and productivity are key aspects. With the various supplies, hacks, and resources provided, you can be sure that you’ll have a clean and professional space to get work done.

                                          Featured photo credit: Domenico Loia via unsplash.com

                                          Reference

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                                          Leon Ho

                                          Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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                                          Last Updated on June 3, 2020

                                          How to Give Constructive Feedback in the Workplace

                                          How to Give Constructive Feedback in the Workplace

                                          We all crave constructive feedback. We want to know not just what we’re doing well but also what we could be doing better.

                                          However, giving and getting constructive feedback isn’t just some feel-good exercise. In the workplace, it’s part and parcel of how companies grow.

                                          Let’s take a closer look.

                                          Why Constructive Feedback Is Critical

                                          A culture of feedback benefits individuals on a team and the team itself. Constructive feedback has the following effects:

                                          Builds Workers’ Skills

                                          Think about the last time you made a mistake. Did you come away from it feeling attacked—a key marker of destructive feedback—or did you feel like you learned something new?

                                          Every time a team member learns something, they become more valuable to the business. The range of tasks they can tackle increases. Over time, they make fewer mistakes, require less supervision, and become more willing to ask for help.

                                          Boosts Employee Loyalty

                                          Constructive feedback is a two-way street. Employees want to receive it, but they also want the feedback they give to be taken seriously.

                                          If employees see their constructive feedback ignored, they may take it to mean they aren’t a valued part of the team. Nine in ten employees say they’d be more likely to stick with a company that takes and acts on their feedback.[1]

                                          Strengthens Team Bonds

                                          Without trust, teams cannot function. Constructive feedback builds trust because it shows that the giver of the feedback cares about the success of the recipient.

                                          However, for constructive feedback to work its magic, both sides have to assume good intentions. Those giving the feedback must genuinely want to help, and those getting it has to assume that the goal is to build them up rather than to tear them down.

                                          Promotes Mentorship

                                          There’s nothing wrong with a single round of constructive feedback. But when it really makes a difference is when it’s repeated—continuous, constructive feedback is the bread and butter of mentorship.

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                                          Be the change you want to see on your team. Give constructive feedback often and authentically, and others will naturally start to see you as a mentor.

                                          Clearly, constructive feedback is something most teams could use more of. But how do you actually give it?

                                          How to Give Constructive Feedback

                                          Giving constructive feedback is tricky. Get it wrong, and your message might fall on deaf ears. Get it really wrong, and you could sow distrust or create tension across the entire team.

                                          Here are ways to give constructive feedback properly:

                                          1. Listen First

                                          Often, what you perceive as a mistake is a decision someone made for a good reason. Listening is the key to effective communication.

                                          Seek to understand: how did the other person arrive at her choice or action?

                                          You could say:

                                          • “Help me understand your thought process.”
                                          • “What led you to take that step?”
                                          • “What’s your perspective?”

                                          2. Lead With a Compliment

                                          In school, you might have heard it called the “sandwich method”: Before (and ideally, after) giving difficult feedback, share a compliment. That signals to the recipient that you value their work.

                                          You could say:

                                          • “Great design. Can we see it with a different font?”
                                          • “Good thinking. What if we tried this?”

                                          3. Address the Wider Team

                                          Sometimes, constructive feedback is best given indirectly. If your comment could benefit others on the team, or if the person whom you’re really speaking to might take it the wrong way, try communicating your feedback in a group setting.

                                          You could say:

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                                          • “Let’s think through this together.”
                                          • “I want everyone to see . . .”

                                          4. Ask How You Can Help

                                          When you’re on a team, you’re all in it together. When a mistake happens, you have to realize that everyone—not just the person who made it—has a role in fixing it. Give constructive feedback in a way that recognizes this dynamic.

                                          You could say:

                                          • “What can I do to support you?”
                                          • “How can I make your life easier?
                                          • “Is there something I could do better?”

                                          5. Give Examples

                                          To be useful, constructive feedback needs to be concrete. Illustrate your advice by pointing to an ideal.

                                          What should the end result look like? Who has the process down pat?

                                          You could say:

                                          • “I wanted to show you . . .”
                                          • “This is what I’d like yours to look like.”
                                          • “This is a perfect example.”
                                          • “My ideal is . . .”

                                          6. Be Empathetic

                                          Even when there’s trust in a team, mistakes can be embarrassing. Lessons can be hard to swallow. Constructive feedback is more likely to be taken to heart when it’s accompanied by empathy.

                                          You could say:

                                          • “I know it’s hard to hear.”
                                          • “I understand.”
                                          • “I’m sorry.”

                                          7. Smile

                                          Management consultancies like Credera teach that communication is a combination of the content, delivery, and presentation.[2] When giving constructive feedback, make sure your body language is as positive as your message. Your smile is one of your best tools for getting constructive feedback to connect.

                                          8. Be Grateful

                                          When you’re frustrated about a mistake, it can be tough to see the silver lining. But you don’t have to look that hard. Every constructive feedback session is a chance for the team to get better and grow closer.

                                          You could say:

                                          • “I’m glad you brought this up.”
                                          • “We all learned an important lesson.”
                                          • “I love improving as a team.”

                                          9. Avoid Accusations

                                          Giving tough feedback without losing your cool is one of the toughest parts of working with others. Great leaders and project managers get upset at the mistake, not the person who made it.[3]

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                                          You could say:

                                          • “We all make mistakes.”
                                          • “I know you did your best.”
                                          • “I don’t hold it against you.”

                                          10. Take Responsibility

                                          More often than not, mistakes are made because of miscommunications Recognize your own role in them.

                                          Could you have been clearer in your directions? Did you set the other person up for success?

                                          You could say:

                                          • “I should have . . .”
                                          • “Next time, I’ll . . .”

                                          11. Time it Right

                                          Constructive feedback shouldn’t catch people off guard. Don’t give it while everyone is packing up to leave work. Don’t interrupt a good lunch conversation.

                                          If in doubt, ask the person to whom you’re giving feedback to schedule the session themselves. Encourage them to choose a time when they’ll be able to focus on the conversation rather than their next task.

                                          12. Use Their Name

                                          When you hear your name, your ears naturally perk up. Use that when giving constructive feedback. Just remember that constructive feedback should be personalized, not personal.

                                          You could say:

                                          • “Bob, I wanted to chat through . . .”
                                          • “Does that make sense, Jesse?”

                                          13. Suggest, Don’t Order

                                          When you give constructive feedback, it’s important not to be adversarial. The very act of giving feedback recognizes that the person who made the mistake had a choice—and when the situation comes up again, they’ll be able to choose differently.

                                          You could say:

                                          • “Next time, I suggest . . .”
                                          • “Try it this way.”
                                          • “Are you on board with that?”

                                          14. Be Brief

                                          Even when given empathetically, constructive feedback can be uncomfortable to receive. Get your message across, make sure there are no hard feelings, and move on.

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                                          One exception? If the feedback isn’t understood, make clear that you have plenty of time for questions. Rushing through what’s clearly an open conversation is disrespectful and discouraging.

                                          15. Follow Up

                                          Not all lessons are learned immediately. After giving a member of your team constructive feedback, follow it up with an email. Make sure you’re just as respectful and helpful in your written feedback as you are on your verbal communication.

                                          You could say:

                                          • “I wanted to recap . . .”
                                          • “Thanks for chatting with me about . . .”
                                          • “Did that make sense?”

                                          16. Expect Improvement

                                          Although you should always deliver constructive feedback in a supportive manner, you should also expect to see it implemented. If it’s a long-term issue, set milestones.

                                          By what date would you like to see what sort of improvement? How will you measure that improvement?

                                          You could say:

                                          • “I’d like to see you . . .”
                                          • “Let’s check back in after . . .”
                                          • “I’m expecting you to . . .”
                                          • “Let’s make a dent in that by . . .”

                                          17. Give Second Chances

                                          Giving feedback, no matter how constructive, is a waste of time if you don’t provide an opportunity to implement it. Don’t set up a “gotcha” moment, but do tap the recipient of your feedback next time a similar task comes up.

                                          You could say:

                                          • “I know you’ll rock it next time.”
                                          • “I’d love to see you try again.”
                                          • “Let’s give it another go.”

                                          Final Thoughts

                                          Constructive feedback is not an easy nut to crack. If you don’t give it well, then maybe it’s time to get some. Never be afraid to ask.

                                          More on Constructive Feedback

                                          Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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