Make Your Home Office Work for You With These Useful Tips

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Working from home is one of the great boons of modernity (another one is living in the golden era of television; Breaking Bad, Community, and Game of Thrones all in the same lifetime? That’s like living in Vienna during the classical music boom). This being said, working from home can be filled with distractions and difficulties (perhaps the aforementioned works of artistic genius have something to do with that).

One of the major ways you can combat loud distractions is by setting up a home office space that meets your working needs. The following will explore a few tips that you can use to turn your work-from-home space into a productivity-supporting and sanity-encouraging workspace. The goal here is to minimize distractions, both known and unknown, and to keep your workflow untouched by your home life as best as possible without interfering with your ability to live a full life in the space outside of work hours.

Fix Your Air

You might not think your air needs fixing, but that’s only because you haven’t done the research. Indoor air is five times more polluted than outdoor air, and this means that you’re breathing in contaminants constantly. If you think that living in the countryside is protecting you, you could be right, but you also might be wrong; if the countryside if forest or some other kind of wilderness, then yes, your air is probably decent. If your countryside is filled with farmland, the air quality is probably worse than in a decent-sized city because of all the pesticides that are sprayed. Get yourself some house plants that clean the air; they also increase oxygen levels which improve focus, memory, concentration, mood, and creativity. If the air is particularly bad (if you’re regularly congested for an unknown reason), get an air filter as well. It’s incredibly hard for your body to focus when it’s scrambling to rid your body of toxins taken in with each breath. For bonus points, breathe through your nose in your office; this results in 30% more oxygen in your body. Your brain uses this oxygen to get things done.


Designate Storage For Work

When you’re working at home, you don’t want to waste time looking for the needed stuff. You also don’t want to leave stuff lying around for children to draw on or pets to drool on, or spouses to clean up (read: misplace). Find storage solutions that you can add to an office setting. Shelving systems or filing cabinets work well. Even just a series of folders that you can pop into a desk drawer is better than leaving everything out in the open.



Put Things At The Right Height


Another thing that might be messing with your productivity is discomfort. Most of us have been taught to ignore the discomfort of sitting at a desk all day (this strange cultural lesson typically begins around age four or five when we enter school and are forced to sit for hours despite all the research that indicates that this is terrible for our children’s health). What this lesson fails to recognize is that the discomfort doesn’t disappear; we just stop paying attention to it.


Being uncomfortable or straining your spine can reduce your productivity without you even knowing it. Find an ergonomic chair (or a standing desk) and figure out how to set everything up for the right height. Your keyboard and mouse should be around elbow height so that with bent elbows, your hands easily reach them with no strain. Your screen should be lifted so as to be at eye level; you want to be sitting up straight and looking directly ahead to see everything on your screen. Yes, this means laptops tend to be bad as the screen and keyboard are so close together. You can get a wireless keyboard for next to nothing and raise the laptop on a platform.


Video Conference Considerations


If your work from home involves Zoom, Skype, Google Meets, Facebook Video Chat, or FaceTime, it might be worth your time to put a little effort into the visual appearance of your background. If you’ve been following along with the above steps, your screen is already at eye level (this isn’t necessary for a good video chat, but it does tend to make people more attractive; it’s better to be looking straight or a little up to your colleagues than down as this is how the double chin shot occurs).


Beyond this, you want to think about lighting. Arranging your furniture so that you face a window is one of the best options as natural light is super flattering, but you should also find a solid lamp for dreary days or calls after dark due to time zone differences). You want to avoid having the light directly above your head as this creates unattractive shadows on your face and can result in you staring at yourself the whole meeting wondering how to tilt your face so that you look less scary. Ideally, you want the light coming from eye level, slightly behind and above your screen.


Finally, you want to think about your backdrop. People can get really creative here (there’s a podcast out there that uses an artistic shower curtain as their backdrop, and no, it’s not obvious which one). One of the safest choices is a bookshelf. A full bookshelf looks natural and human but also professional. If you can manage it, you might also want to avoid positioning yourself with the door behind you. This will prevent interruptions from being visual distractions in your meeting as well. If kids or pets run into the room (which happens to everyone at some point), it’s best if their entrance isn’t onscreen.


As a bonus, it’s a good idea to keep a pair of headphones close by, even if you don’t typically use them in meetings. On occasions where your sound is causing an echo, putting on headphones usually fixes the issue promptly.


The above information should help you set up your workspace in an ideal way for working at home. While this article focused on the home office space, you might also want to devote time and energy to tidying up your digital space. Create folders that are specifically for work and label things within an organized system so you can easily find what you’re looking for when you need it. While you’re at it, be sure to take appropriate security precautions as cybercrime has been particularly ruthless as of late; make sure your passwords are strong and avoid using wifi that’s not secured by a password.

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