Whether you’ve been working out of your house for a few months or for many years, you’ve probably run into a common problem of home offices — it’s harder to be productive at home. Trying to work in the place where you also relax, eat, socialize, and sleep often comes with distractions that can leave you feeling unmotivated throughout the workday. Follow these 11 tips to design a home workspace that boosts your productivity.
1. Choose a Low-Traffic Space
Working from the living room couch or the kitchen table might be convenient, but it can sap your productivity. High-traffic areas like the kitchen or living room often have excess noise and distractions that keep you from getting work done, like children playing or someone watching TV.
Minimize distractions in your home office by choosing the quietest part of the house. If possible, create your work space in a spare bedroom or alcove that has little to no traffic from others in your home.
2. Find the Right Background Sounds
The right background sounds could help make you more productive. Some people enjoy listening to calming classical music while others find electronic dance music helps pump them up and keep them going.
The type of background noise that’s right for you is a personal preference. Be sure to try out lots of different ambient sounds or music to find what suits you best. You might be surprised to find you work best with no sound at all, or you prefer a white noise machine over a music playlist. Consider investing in noise-canceling headphones or a quality speaker so you get a clear sound when listening to your favorite productivity mix.
3. Add a Plant
Plants have many benefits in home offices. They can be used to inject a bit of color into an otherwise monotone room. You can also add a plant or two to help freshen the air in your office. Plants are also great to add visual stimulation for your eyes when you need a break from your screen. Some good options for visual appeal include succulents for their smooth, round edges or spiky spider and snake plants with pointed leaves.
4. Keep Your Desk Clean
A messy desk is a recipe for an unproductive day. Declutter your desk — and your entire office — regularly to help stay motivated during the workday. If you’re particularly messy, you might want to end each day with a decluttering session. Put away any papers or supplies you’ve used throughout the day. Shut off your computer and give the keyboard and mouse a quick wipe with a cleaning cloth to remove dirt and grime from the day.
5. Take a Break
It’s easy to get wrapped up in work and never take a break when you’re working from home, but this could make you less productive. It’s important to take breaks throughout the day to give your mind and body a rest.
Set an alarm several times throughout the day to remind yourself to take a break. Remember to step away from work while you’re on your break. This could mean doing a light workout or reading a book for a half-hour. You’ll come back from your break more energized and ready to get to work.
6. Have Plenty of Light
Not everyone is lucky enough to have a home office with a full wall of windows. Use the space you have to create as much light as possible. A well-lit workspace helps you stay awake and encourages you to stay motivated. If you don’t have a lot of natural light, consider using lamps or switching out your overhead lighting to a natural-colored lightbulb. Regular overhead lighting can often be harsh and cause annoying shadows on your desk and work area.
7. Use the Right Color Scheme
Is your home office painted an aggressive color, like bright orange or yellow? It could be causing you to lose productivity. Most people agree working in a space with neutral or soft colors boosts productivity. Try painting your office a color that makes you feel calm, such as neutral beige or light green. If your rent your home, be sure to ask your landlord for permission first.
8. Plan Your Distractions
While you don’t want to be distracted all day, having a few quick boredom erasers nearby can help you stay more productive overall. Figure out a short, fun activityyou can break out as a planned distraction when you feel you need a short break. For example, maybe you have a favorite puzzle game on your phone, or you like to catch up on celebrity news. Take a minute or two to step away from work, but make sure to put your preferred distraction out of sight when you sit back down at your desk.
9. Invest in Comfortable Furniture
You should feel comfortable and relaxed while working. An uncomfortable chair or bad angle for your keyboard will likely distract you all day. Even worse, ill-fitting furniture can cause long-term pain and discomfort, such as carpal tunnel or back pain. Invest in good quality furniture and ergonomic office equipment that makes it easy to work all day. Your employer may offer stipends or reimbursement to furnish your work space. If you’re self-employed, you can often claim tax deductions for home-office-related expenses.
10. Make a Short To-Do List
A lengthy to-do list could cause you to feel overwhelmed. Instead, make short to-do lists of the immediate tasks on your plate. Even if you have a lot to get done in one day, breaking up your to-do list can make it feel more manageable. Break your list up into morning and afternoon tasks, for example, so you can finish half before lunch and come back to a fresh list.
11. Leave When You’re Done for the Day
One of the biggest downfalls of working from home is the tendency to keep working after the day is done. It’s often tempting to get started on the next project or answer a few more emails even though the workday is over. Working late at home every day, however, could easily lead to burnout. Stay productive and avoid burnout by setting an end time and sticking to it. When it’s time to stop working, shut down your workspace and leave your office.