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How to Create a More Productive Home Office

If you’re lucky enough to be allowed to work from the comforts of your home, here are a few tips to creating a more productive home office that will have you flying through your to-do list:

Privacy is the best policy

Design: In-Expat

When choosing an area for your workspace, choose a location that is private so you can get work done without any distractions. Yes, that means not locating your home office near the television or the bed for instance. If you must—thanks small square footage—position your desk such that it doesn’t have a direct view of that distraction. If your home office has to be shared with other zones in the home, you might want to invest in dividers like curtains or tall shelves that double as bookcases so you can segregate your workspace from the rest of the zones.

Reduce noise levels

Design: Three-D Conceptwerke

For folks that need to work in peace and quiet, you won’t want to place your workspace near a window that has continuous traffic sounds. If your home office is located in an open shared space at home or if you work with a partner, your best bet may be to invest in a comfortable pair of noise-cancelling headphones. Otherwise, go for soft furnishings like carpets, throws, cushions and curtains (dual-layer curtains that come with a heavier and lighter fabric) that can help to reduce noise levels.

For some, a little noise can boost productivity. Opt for background music with a more consistent rhythm and structure and avoid music that have lyrics, as lyrics are known to be a distraction. You can even opt for white noise in the background, which is known to help with recognition memory. Keep to the optimal sound/music levels of around 65 dB to 75 dB.

Pay attention to lighting

Design: Voila

A poorly lit workspace can lead to eye strain and headaches and it can put a damper on your mood, so you might want to pay more attention to the lighting in your workspace. Consider natural light first, which is one of the best sources of lighting. But don’t face the window directly, which can be too glaring especially if you have an eastern or a western facing room. Also avoid the glare of the sun facing directly on your computer screen. Instead, place your work surface such that it runs alongside the windows. Positioning your desk in a north-south orientation will also help to reduce shadows on your work surface, which may be an important factor for some. If your workspace has too much glare from the sun however, you can opt for shades or blinds where you can adjust the amount of sunlight coming through.

Design: Ehka Studio

In terms of artificial lighting, opt for a combination of overhead, ambient lights as well as task lights. Invest in overhead lights, such as recessed lights or pendants, that light up your entire home office evenly. Avoid placing them right above where you’re sitting to avoid glare. With task lights, they are there to illumination your workstation. It’s advisable to opt for a flexible one e.g. a table lamp with an adjustable neck and dimmer controls, so you can adjust the light source accordingly.

Get rid of clutter

Design: Artistroom

Now that you’ve found your sweet spot, you will want to get rid of any clutter in your workspace. While a messy table might be a sign of being a creative genius, it can also be a source of endless frustration, especially when you need to find that stapler. Get rid of the clutter and keep your home office organised by keeping papers in a proper filing system, not accumulating too many personal items, tidying your cables with cable organisers, investing in storage cabinets for most of your workspace essentials, and getting a desktop organiser to organise frequently used items that you leave on your desk.

Design: D’ Initial Concept

There are plenty of storage options for your home office that can hide the clutter. If you have limited space, get built-ins that make the most of every inch. If you tend to have a varied job nature, you might want to invest in more flexible and modular storage, which can be adjusted and moved around whenever your job nature changes.

Consider the right colour scheme

Design: Renolux Interior

Colours play a huge role in influencing how we feel and behave. In an interview with a blog focusing on productivity, Angela Wright, who wrote a book about colour psychology, suggests the following colours depending on how you want to feel in your workspace:

Blue is a productive colour if you do mind-work like accounting. Orange will serve as a good balance with blue to avoid your space from being too “cold”.

Yellow is a great colour if you need to be creative in your work. It helps to stimulate your mood and makes you feel more optimistic.

Red is useful in a workspace where you will need to stimulate your physical strength.

Green is serene and calming and works best in workspaces that need that sense of balance.

Think about ergonomics

Design: Third Avenue Studio

In order to create a productive home office, you will want a healthy and comfortable workspace. It doesn’t mean you have to invest in expensive ergonomic furniture, but it does mean you should get the tables and chairs in the right height. Make sure your sitting posture is at the right position without great effort. Your back should be straight or reclined slightly with both feet touching the floor and your thighs parallel to the floor. When typing on your keyboard, make sure your forearms and wrists are flat on the table rather than elevated. Your eyes should also be level to the top or middle of your computer screen and you should also be looking slightly downwards.

If you’re working on a laptop, using a laptop stand and a separate keyboard can help get you in the right position. A cushion or a seat pad can help your spine adjust to a neutral state and help avoid the tendency to lean forwards. For people with shorter legs, opt for a footrest to help your legs align in a right angle with your body. A table with an adjustable height is also a good option if you want to break out of the monotony of sitting.

Include Your Muse

Design: Fineline Design

Ultimately, your home office should be a space that inspires and motivates you. So add personal touches, whether it’s that plant collection or that series of inspirational posters. Change things around every once in a while to keep things fresh and to prevent your décor from fading into the background. You will also want to create a zone that lets you recharge and take a break, so incorporate that cosy corner for reading, that daybed for a quick power nap or even an exercise zone with exercise equipment to let you refocus and reenergise before you head back to your tasks.

Will you be planning for a home office? What ways will you make it more productive? Share with us in the comments!


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