Being Your Own Boss from the Comfort of Your Home
Who doesn’t dream of being his/her own boss and work from the comfort of their home? But it’s not as straight forward as it seems and things can get pretty complicated when you start working on your own. That’s mainly because it’s not easy to separate personal and work life, especially around children. While working from home and being your own boss are among the best things that could happen to anyone, setting up a home office keeping productivity in mind is essential for success.
This post discusses easy-to-follow ideas that can help boost productivity by maximizing available space and minimizing distractions. Obviously, a lot depends on how much money you are willing to spend, but that’s not what setting up a home office is all about. You can still make the right changes for creating a more productive work environment even if you are tight on budget.
Work-from-Home: Enticing, But Can Be Distractive
There are many distractions unique to working from home, which makes setting up a home-office a challenging task. Sure, you’d want the office to be as comfortable as possible, but not at the cost of decreased productivity. There are a few important questions that you need answers for before getting started including:
Generic vs. Fancy Home Offices
If you just want to get things done and are not interested in showcasing your home-office in a magazine, a generic office is probably what you should be considering. This post also focuses mainly on such generic home offices designed to boost productivity and use space optimally. It’s better to hire professional services of a designer if you are looking for a fancy home office, but that’s obviously going to cost you a lot of money.
Most of the things mentioned here are DIY tips and can be especially useful for people who have just started working from their homes. These tips cover the basics, but you can also start with a board on Pinterest if you are looking for more inspiring ideas such as organization, using corkboards and more.
Choosing the Right Color
Colors are not just about aesthetics as they also have the ability to affect our mood and impact us psychology. While it’s not possible to name a single color that’s best for all home offices, you can choose between some colors known to have a positive psychological impact, ultimately enhancing productivity.
- Blue affects our minds
- Red affects our bodies
- Yellow affects our emotions
- Green affects the balance between mind, body and emotions
A combination of these colors can influence our behavior and although our unique personalities play an important role in how we interpret color, their impact is universal in nature. When it comes to home offices, it’s not only about the color we choose, but also its intensity, which defines how stimulating it is. For example, a combination of highly-saturated blue and yellow results in a color that stimulates both the mind and emotions.
While blue is generally considered the most productive color, things aren’t that simple in the scientific world. Sure, blue stimulates the mind and can enhance productivity, but that might not work very well for all professions such as accounting and disciplines that involve a lot of mind-work. Spicing up blue with some orange introduces balance and emotion in your office and is better than a totally mind-stimulating home office aka blue.
Red is more suitable for people who are involved in something of a physical nature as it stimulates our bodies. The color is believed to stimulate conversation and draw people together by raising the energy level of the home office. It appears more elegant and richer in lamplight, but it’s also believed to raise blood pressure and heart rate in brightly-lit environments.
Yellow is considered to work well for people involved in creative work such as designing as it stimulates the spirit and ego. The color communicates happiness and can be uplifting and energizing, especially in small spaces. However, too much yellow might cause you to frequently lose your temper and get frustrated. That’s why it’s recommended to use it in combination with another color to balance the impact.
Green is considered to be relaxing for our eyes and helps unwind our minds while being warm enough for a comfortable work environment. Working from home can sometimes become a stressful experience, affecting performance and productivity. Green is also considered to be a stress-relieving color so it makes sense to use it where you plan to work for extended periods of time. It introduces a strong sense of balance, but it can also prove to be quite a stagnant and inert color for people who love action aka red.
Choosing the Right Shade
Once you are done with choosing the color(s), it’s time to pick specific hue(s). But this is where things start to get a bit complicated as colors are both personal and scientific. The best way to pick a hue is to trust your gut instincts while keeping in mind the part you’d want to affect i.e. mind, body, emotions or balance.
You need to carefully consider the kind of storage space you need before creating the necessary space. Since most work-from-home people spend a large portion of their time at their desk, it’s essential to keep it clean and neatly organized. Keeping pens together in a cup or papers in a tray might sound like insignificant things, but such little things add up to an overall efficient design that enhances productivity.
Floating or corner shelves work great when you are short on space as they don’t take any floor space and only require a bare wall. Building up is a better option than building out even if you have to use a step-stool as it allows making the most out of the available wall space. Keeping a paper shredder right under your desk allows you to put confidential papers somewhere before shredding them and provides a ‘buffer-zone’.
Home Office Personalization
Personalization helps develop a sense of ownership and claim a space that’s meant for you. There is no shortage of options you can use to personalize your office. This includes family photos, art and drawings, but things like childhood trophies might not be the best decoration option for your home office. On the other hand, too much personalization can be counterproductive, add clutter and become distracting. As a general rule of thumb for home and any other office, it’s better to have as fewer unnecessary items as possible.
Having an exposure to natural lighting not only carries health benefits and improves vision, but also enhances productivity. Placing your desk in front of a window is one way of benefiting from full-spectrum lighting. But if your office is located in the basement or does not have direct access to natural lighting, full-spectrum bulbs are a great alternative. Although more expensive than typical bulbs, full-spectrum bulbs offer a balanced color temperature, make reading easier and carry most of the benefits or natural light.
Home Office Furniture
Office desk and chair are among the most important components of any home office. You can choose between different options, but it ultimately comes down to your budget, unique requirements and personal preferences. Adjustable desks are suitable for people who move around frequently and don’t like sitting in one place all day long. Corner desks help cut down on storage space and come with open bookshelves, while smaller desks with keyboard and mouse trays help save space and look modern.
You might also like to consider a standing desk/desk extender, which is a healthier option and keeps you on your feet. If you are not short on space, your desk should ideally have a large empty area so you don’t have to unclutter and organize it every now and then. You need to put more effort into organization and keeping everything tidy if you are short on space and are planning on buying a small desk.
It’s highly recommended to invest in an ergonomic chair as sitting for long periods of time can add stress to the spinal structure, which can result in back problems. Ergonomic chairs are designed to support the body and minimize stress on different body parts. Sure they are expensive than most office chairs, but they are worth the investment as they evoke proper posture and prevent physical ailments.
Setting Up a Home Office
The quietest corner of a home is the best place to setup a home office, but you also need to consider some other factors. Some people are more productive in silence, while others need some background noise to keep going. The home office should ideally be far away from the TV room/play area or at least should have a separate door.
In addition to the basic steps to improve efficiency while working from home, the following simple tips can also make a difference when you are trying to be your own boss.
- Keep distractions out of the way, but still around; avoid keeping stuff like TV and thread mill in near the desk
- Always be ready to catch an idea quickly and take a note straightaway
- Establish and maintain work hours, try different time frames to determine what works best for you
- Separate home and work computers
- Install blocking software to keep you on the track
- Plan for the long run; break up bigger projects into smaller pieces
- Keep track of the regular work using online calendars
- Make shorter to-do lists, keep work and household to-do list seperate
- Take short breaks at regular intervals, long breaks can make you lose concentration
- Setup a reward system; reward yourself for accomplishing the set goals
- Keep others around informed of your work hours, set status/auto responders on chat/email clients
- Hire a Virtual Assistant if you have too much stuff to manage on your own
- Consider childcare if you find it difficult working around children or work when they are at school or asleep
- Try unconventional work hours if daytime hours are full of doorbells and other distractions
- Keep contacts and computer files organized and don’t forget to regularly backup important data
- Dedicate some time each week to clean up and declutter the home-office, computer and cabinets
- Invest in an ergonomic keyboard and mouse
- Bring in a desk plant or some green (if not limited by space), especially when there is no greenery outside the window
- Ensure high-speed internet connectivity, invest in a quality router
- Use surge protectors to protect expensive equipment against sudden surges and fluctuations
- Multipurpose printers can save space and reduce clutter, wireless all-in-one printers aren’t too expensive these days
- Be prepared for power breakdowns, install a UPS that allows you to at least save your work if something goes wrong
- Ensure adequate lighting, use desk or floor lamps if your home office does not get adequate natural lighting
- Keep the workplace organized using file cabinets, handing folders and file folders
- Invest in a fire-safe box to store your most important documents
- Keep a paper shredder under the desk. Not only it helps you get rid of confidential materials you don’t want to store, it also keeps such documents out of sight
- Keep track of office supplies, replenish when inventory gets low
- Hide the cables and cords and put the printer out of the way
- Keep all the important stuff within arms’ reach
- Avoid checking emails too frequently, depending on the nature of work you are doing, in most cases one should check emails 3-5 times per day
- Avoid taking breaks at your desk, keep a small couch where you can relax during the breaks
- Use soft, calming and wafting scents that give a natural boost and put your thoughts back on track
- Don’t forget to exercise during short breaks, get some light exercise equipment such as a step machine
- Follow the 20-20-20 rule; stop gazing at the computer screen after every twenty minutes and look at some other thing about 20 yards away for 20 seconds
- Disengage firmly but politely with distracting people
- Dress like a grownup, working from home isn’t about wearing a t-shirt and boxers all the time