As we move into the fifth week of WFH, many of us are still trying to find the ideal spot in our homes to be productive. You’ve most likely tried the couch, the kitchen table, or perhaps even your own bed, which has led to binge-watching Tiger King, eating all of your quarantine snacks, and/or nodding off while on a conference call. No matter the size of your house, apartment, or condo, there’s a way to create a productive office. Here are a few tips:
Divide and Conquer
Just like we need social distancing to succeed in mitigating the impact of COVID-19, creating distance from distractions by defining a home office space will help you stay productive and focused.
Find a spot in your home separate from distractions like domestic duties and snacks. If you have an empty room, awesome. Purchase a desk and an ergonomic chair. Ensure your space has access to power outlets, storage, and anything else you may need, like a printer.
Tight budget? Use an existing table, (even a folding table will work) and a dining chair.
If you don’t have an extra room, work with the space that you do have. Is there space under your stairs? Create a small office in that nook.
Live in a small one-floor apartment? Purchase a console table (aka a narrow table), that can double as a desk when it’s time to get down to business. This type of table works in any room and can either go against a wall or nestle behind a couch (aka sofa table).
No matter the space, there’s a way to add a desk. You just need to get creative.
Creating a Vibe
After you’ve selected the right location, it’s time to organize and decorate your space. An organized space will keep your mind focused on the task at hand. Here are a few tips on how to organize your desk.
1. Light: Ensure your desk has proper lighting. If the overhead and/or natural light isn’t sufficient, add a desk lamp. If you need every square inch of desk space for working, add a floor lamp that provides ample light.
2. Organization: Determine what you need on your desk to stay organized, like files, a calendar, folders, or trays. Separate in-progress work from what’s completed. All of these things can help you stay on point.
3. Greenery: Did you know it’s been proven that plants increase work productivity by up to 15%? Plants are also natural stress relievers that can help with mental health. According to a 1991 study by Roger Ulrich, hospital patients with views of the outdoors required less pain medication than the patients that couldn’t connect with nature. So, if you want your workday to be less painful, add a plant.
4. Objects: Add personal objects to your space. These objects could include a picture of your family or even a souvenir from a recent trip. These sentimental objects support mental health and reduce stress. A family photo can be a reminder of the love and support you have in your life. A souvenir, such as a shell from a recent beach trip, can transport you back to that location, and give your brain some much-needed respite.
5. Sound: Most of us are used to noise and open floor plan office spaces. But a screaming child is a lot different than listening to your pod neighbor discuss his recent Tinder date. If you can’t separate your WFH desk from the noise of everyday life, invest in some noise-canceling headphones. Play music that’s calming, and non-distracting. Just make sure someone has an eye on your kids because noise-canceling headphones really do work.
Declutter and Pack up
After you’re all set up, there are two important things to remember.
1. Declutter: Don’t let your office become a black hole, filled with stacks of papers, crayons, a bag of crackers, empty coffee cups, etc. Declutter. Set time aside every day, perhaps 11 am and 3 pm, to remove clutter from your desk. Take dishes and food to the kitchen, perhaps even do those dishes. Your office/housemates/significant other will thank you. This will also give you a much-needed break from the screen. Organize work papers and throw away or, better yet, recycle anything you don’t need. Tidy your desk before you get back to it. These little breaks will help reset your mind and as a bonus, give your legs a stretch.
2. Pack Up: At the end of the day, before you hop on that Zoom happy hour or take your kids for a bike ride, pack up your workspace. Put everything away so you’re not distracted when it’s time to decompress and/or spend time with family. This is even more important if you don’t have a separate room for your office. No one wants to stare at a stack of work while they’re making dinner, working out, or playing with the kids. Give your mind the night off. Don’t worry, the work will still be there tomorrow when you pull it back out and Ground Hog Day continues.
To see more design inspiration from Michelle, visit her on Instagram: @madison.hudson.design