You did it! You’ve finally taken the entrepreneurial plunge, and now you’re your own boss! Even better, you get to work from home. You get to keep all the money you make through your hard work, and you no longer have to deal with office politics.
Plus, the commute to your office takes less than five minutes. But somehow, despite all your enthusiasm and good intentions, you don’t seem as productive as before. Why is that? Was your boss’s annoying habit of breathing down your neck and micromanaging your every move actually helping?
Even if it turned out that the answer is yes, you certainly don’t miss it. But you keep getting distracted. You go to the kitchen to get yourself a snack and start doing chores instead. You tell yourself that it’s ok. You’re still being productive. You no longer have a fixed schedule so you’ll just finish your work a little later. But it keeps getting later and later. It feels like you’re constantly working overtime. You’re working longer hours, but you’re getting less done.
To be productive, you need a home office that makes you feel invigorated and creative. And most of all, you need a home office that protects you from those pesky distractions.
Keep Your Home Office Separate
When setting up your home office, the first thing you have to figure is where. Now, not everyone has the option of setting aside an entire room to serve as a home office, so there’s a chance you’re running your home business from your living room. That’s not ideal, but there are still things you can do to separate your office from the rest of your home, at least mentally. This is very important because your brain will switch from “home mode” to “work mode” based on environmental cues.
You can position your desk in such a way that you’re not facing your home entertainment system, and you can use furniture to create a sort of border and keep everything you need close by so you don’t have to keep getting up and end up doing something else.
If you do have a spare room for your home office, you’ll need to make sure there’s enough space. The amount of furniture and equipment will depend on the type of work you do. Most people will need a desk, a computer and storage. However, if you work as a graphic artist, for instance, you will need another workspace with a larger table for your art work.
Include an Area to Unwind
Many people overlook this aspect because they think they’re at home, so they don’t need an area to unwind. They have the rest of the house for that. But that’s how it starts. You go to the living room thinking that you’re going to relax for a few minutes and you come back after an hour. At the same time, you can’t work for hours and hours without breaks. You’re not a machine.
So you need to set aside space where you can put your feet up and give your brain some much-needed rest. You want it to be nice and comfortable but not so comfortable that you forget about the time.
You can add a few personal touches. For example, you can buy discount ribbon in bulk and decorate the sofa pillows yourself. Maybe also add some family photos. Just remember not to make it look too much like the rest of your home, or you’ll again have problems switching from “home mode” to “work mode.”
Lighting is a very important aspect of home office design because it has a massive impact on your productivity. There’s a reason co-workers argue about who gets a seat by the window. Researchers examined the role natural light has on learning and productivity by conducting a study on students. They found that those who studied in classrooms with lower levels of natural light lagged behind their students from classrooms with adequate lighting by 23% in reading and 15% in math. Moreover, getting enough natural light during the day elevates your mood, makes you feel more energized and helps you sleep better at night.
Luckily you no longer have to argue with anyone over who gets the desk by the window. Just make sure you get the angle right to avoid glare, so you don’t strain your eyes. Some stylist curtains will help you avoid glare, keep you from getting distracted by the view and make the room look more welcoming.
In terms of artificial light, overhead light is not enough. It casts pronounced shadows which strain your eyes. You’ll need to layer the light, so it looks more like natural light. This means task lighting for your desk and some ambient light to avoid those pronounced shadows.
Invest in the Things That Matter
If your budget is limited, you’ll need to set priorities. Maybe your instinct is to buy things that look fancy because you think it will help you feel more comfortable and motivated. But, aesthetically appealing office furniture is often not as comfortable as it looks.
For example, many interior design magazines feature home offices with elegant dining room chairs instead of office chairs. Those dining room chairs may look nice in pictures, but if you sit on them for eight or nine hours per day, you’ll discover that they do not give your back the proper support. It’s the same with those tiny vintage desks with hardly any room for storage. No. When it comes to home offices, it’s function over beauty every time.
You need a good quality chair with lumbar support that can be adjusted to your height and the height of your desk. Your desk also has to fit the size of your body. Although your chair is adjustable, if your desk is the wrong height, you won’t be able to sit in a comfortable position. Even if you order them online, it’s better to go to a physical store beforehand and try out different desks and chairs. This way you’ll find out what measurements will allow you to sit in the correct position which means with your knees bent at about a 90-degree angle, your feet flat on the floor and your elbows also at a 90-degree angle.