With the advent and integration of the internet in the workplace, many people have found themselves working from home, instead a cubicle. Hundreds of thousands of people across the globe are working from home these days, and Boise is no exception. With all these home bound workers, many builders, especially those in the Treasure Valley, have been adding offices and extra rooms for offices to their floor plans. However, just having that separate room does not mean you will be effective or productive at your new domestic desk. So, in order to improve your efficacy and productivity, here are a few ideas to make your home office the best it can be.
Keep business and home separate
It is important to enjoy the place that you work, however, you need to make sure that the fun things in your house don’t bleed into your work space. The more you try to keep them separate, however, it is important to make your office a pleasurable work environment. A good rule of thumb is to pretend that the stuff from your office cannot leave your office unless it needs to, and your normal stuff cannot come into your office unless necessary, like it would be if your office was across town.
Stay focused, but have fun as well
This is a hard one. We all know of an office that is too boring, and it isn’t that hard to imagine one that isn’t productive at all—so where is the balance? That is what you need to find out for yourself. If you don’t have a fun office, you won’t be inclined to go to work, but if it is too fun you won’t get anything done. However, the fun to focus balance is not just something that you can fix overnight. Here are a few suggestions that can help you improve your productivity in your home office:
- Plug in some headphones and turn up the jams!
This is effective because it keeps random noises from distracting you, and it also makes people think twice about interrupting you.
- Have a schedule.
Aside from the usual 10:00 meeting and 11:30 write the new business proposal, it is good to schedule time for breaks and, especially, time to check your emails. Your inbox can be your worst enemy when it comes to productivity, so keep it under control and on a schedule.
- Write your random ideas down for later
Many times a day our thought processes are interrupted by stray thoughts—some important, and some not so much--, making it nearly impossible to both stay focused and entertain the thoughts we need to act on. A good way to do this is to use a sticky note or note pad to write these ideas down to visit later. (If you are working online a lot and come across interesting articles you want to read, you may enjoy the app called Pocket. www.getpocket.com provides a free app for your computer, tablet, and smartphone so that you can save articles you find and revisit them later when you have the time).
- Use the door
Many distractions can be eliminated by simply closing the door. Though it may seem cold, it may just need to be done.
- Work while no one else is home.
This is a simple tactic that a lot of people in regular offices use. All you need to do is to change your schedule so that when everyone else is out, or not there yet, you are working.
This will allow you to work in a more forgiving atmosphere with less distractions. Once you know what you are going to do to make your office more productive, next you need to find ways to make it enjoyable. When you are doing this, remember that it needs to appeal to only one person: yourself. So, even if others don’t like it, go for it, it’s your office! Here are a few ideas for amenities to add to a home office.
- Try to get windows
Natural light can be a great asset to anyone trying to make their office more enjoyable and more productive at the same time. The window will let in natural light (keeping you awake), as well as give you a way for to see outside when you need a moment to let your mind adjust.
- Buy some small plants
Plants are great for offices, no matter where they are. Plants have many psychological and physical benefits to offer. Not only do they liven up the atmosphere, but they will also help to freshen up the air, making it healthier and more pleasurable to work there.
- Get something fun to do on your breaks
Break toys come in all shapes and sizes. You can have an indoor putting green, books to read, a Wii, or even a treadmill or stationary bike.
- Give it some decoration
It doesn’t have to be much, just be sure to give your home office some personal flair
Hand picking your lightbulbs is a bright idea
A lot of research has been done into the effects of proper lighting. It has been found that certain kinds of lighting will not only keep you awake better, but it can also help your mood. Aside from their environmental benefits, CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lamp; or just Fluorescent Bulbs) have been proven to also improve people’s moods. Many of these studies have found that the CFLs actually imitate the light that the sun gives off, making the body think it is in the sun. This is important because scientists have found that a little sunlight everyday can help improve your mood, making people happier. Not to mention CFLs can also help save you money in the long-run since they don’t burn out as quickly as normal light bulbs.
Pick a seat that sits well with you
It’s not a secret that a good chair is vital to a productive and effective office. No one wants a sore back after work. It’s not enough to just have a comfortable place to sit, you need to have a chair that will be good for your body. Many department stores sell ergonomic chairs, so there are plenty to choose from. All you need to do is to find one that fits your price range and feels good on your back. If a nice office chair can’t fit its way into your budget, maybe you should try out an exercise ball. They may seem a little tacky at first, but exercise balls are not only inexpensive, but they force you to use correct posture, and can help strengthen your core all at the same time. (You can also take breaks to bounce around on them if you get bored). For most people, the tools they have dictate the kind of success they will have. You want to have good tools at your disposal to ensure success. We assume that you already have the bare bones of a home office: good computer and fast internet, so this next section will focus mainly on the extra tools you can get for your home office.
- A good shredder
Essential to any office, a shredder can make sure that your client’s information is safe. You will want to make sure that you get a good shredder that will do more than cut the documents into tiny strips, but rather one that will turn it into confetti. This is vital because there are some shredders that will only make it difficult for a person wishing to harm you to get your confidential information, instead of stop them completely. So, get yourself an effective shredder for your safety and the safety of the people you do business with.
- A Reliable Printer
In our fast paced tech savvy world, there is one thing in the office world that has not caught up to the rest of its kind in terms of efficacy and that is the printer. Anyone who has tried to print something important on a deadline has most likely experienced the frustration of trying to get a printer to cooperate. Whether you have experienced it or not, you will be better off getting a reliable printer the first time around, than risk losing clients and sales on account of a printer jam or other malfunction.
- A Headset
Due to the nature of working from home, phone conferences and other long phone calls will start to take up more and more of your time. So, in order to be spared from the neck aches to come, it is highly suggested that you invest in a headset. This will allow you to be much more comfortable when you are taking those overseas calls at 8:00 in the morning.
- An Ergonomic Keyboard
For the same reason that you want to get an ergonomic chair, you will want to get an ergonomic keyboard. Typing, in any job can be painful after a while, so it’s best to make sure that in the beginning you keep your health in mind. And, if you do this you won’t spend as much on medical bills later on.
- A Scanner
Scanners are pretty useful things, and for a home office, they can be vital. People don’t usually think about scanners, however, until you need one. So be sure to get a scanner before it becomes an emergency.
- White Board or Cork Board
Though they aren’t shiny and impressive, a white board, or cork board for that matter, can help you get organized and even raise your productivity levels.
- Snack Supplies
We all know that working hard can work up an appetite. So, to save time on trips to the kitchen, why not have your very own supply of snacks. There are many people who like to buy mini fridges for their offices to keep a larger variety of food. Be sure to keep some healthy snacks on hand as well—not just cookies and potato chips.
Making your home office your own is a process, depending on the job, you may need a lot more, or a lot less than what’s listed here. Just remember to make sure to do whatever is necessary to set yourself up for success.