With Covid on the rise (again), working from home has never been more common.
Companies across the country are embracing flexible work options to help avoid spreading the virus inside of offices. But, too many people are working in unproductive environments at home, like the dinner table, couch, or even their bedrooms. It could be killing your performance.
5 steps to an ultra-productive home office
If you are working from home, your goal is to design an office space that is both comfortable as well as productive. I have worked from home for over 10 years. I’ve tried every office configuration imaginable. Sometimes it helped my productivity. Other times it killed it.
I know what works and what doesn’t.
1. Just like in real estate, location, location, location
The single best technique to building a productive office is to choose the right location. This means your dinner table or family room is out of the question.
Why? Because those areas of the house tend to have the most distractions. Your kids are running around. People are talking. Heck, your television is right there, tempting you to flick it on for some “background noise”. These high-traffic areas are poor choices for your office.
Whenever possible, choose a room in your house and dedicate it as your home office. Extra points if the room has a locking door to help keep potential distractions at bay. Bringing in natural light from windows is best but that won’t always be possible.
Spare bedrooms or dens work well for this. Insulated attics or basements may also work.
If you don’t have any spare rooms, try to pick a low-traffic area of your home. A corner. Heck, even closets work well (provided you’re not completely closed off or pushing coats and shoes out of the way every morning before work).
2. Invest in a comfortable chair
No, that 20-year-old folding chair that you bring out for extra seating during backyard summer BBQs isn’t “good enough”. Remember, you’ll likely be sitting in your office chair for several hours during the day. Don’t skimp on this critical piece of equipment.
Invest in a high-quality chair that provides lumbar support. I like chairs with armrests and high back support, but that’s also a personal preference. Instead of browsing Amazon for chairs, go to a local office supply store and sit in a few chairs to get a feel for what you find comfortable.
I cannot stress this enough: Consider your chair an investment, not just an expense. Spend extra money if you need to for a comfortable office chair.
3. Make your workspace feel like an office
One of the biggest drawbacks to using your family room or dinner table is that those areas don’t feel like an office. And believe it or not, putting yourself into a professional workspace can help you be more productive. It separates you from the rest of your living space and puts you into the right frame of mind for a day of work.
How can you make your workspace feel more like an office? Your office chair and a proper workstation (a desk or table) are first. But, shelving and pictures on the wall also help. I’m a fan of floating shelves that mount neatly on the wall rather than larger pieces of furniture, but of course, that will be up to you and your preferences.
What else? Your morning mug of coffee. A desktop container for your pens and pencils. Sticky notes and notebooks. And yes, even a modern wastebasket. These items might seem small, but they all help to build a workspace that feels like an office.
4. Use an adjustable desk for sitting and standing
Lifehack wrote that standing can double your productivity. And, I agree. Not only will standing up get your blood flowing, but it also lets you move around a bit more. Sitting is related more to relaxation while standing is associated with work, Lifehack argues.
I love my adjustable desk from Ikea. With a touch of a button, the desk will automatically lift up to a standing position when I want to stand and lower back down when I want to sit. To add an extra element of exercise, I also invested in an under-the-desk treadmill to get some additional steps and exercise as I work.
Note that you don’t need to stand all day. Instead, switch back and forth between standing and sitting. Choose a desk that’s easy to adjust so you’re not rearranging your desk or fumbling around to raise or lower your desktop each time.
5. Enforce “working hours”
Be sure that your family understands your working hours. These are the hours that you should not be disturbed for any reason (exceptions being emergencies, of course).
Note that this can be more difficult than it seems. To help reinforce your working hours with your family, be consistent and direct. The more exceptions that you make, the less effective your “working hours” will be.
Also, be sure that your boss and coworkers know your working hours as well (in some cases, your boss may “help” decide what your working hours are!). Be sure that you’re available during those hours.
There are many pros and cons to remote work. If you do work from home, use these 5 techniques to build a comfortable work environment that will help keep you ultra-productive.
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This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
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Steve Adcock is an early retiree who writes about mental toughness, financial independence and how to get the most out of your life and career. As a regular contributor to The Ladders, CBS MarketWatch and CNBC, Adcock maintains a rare and exclusive voice as a career expert, consistently offering actionable counseling to thousands of readers who want to level-up their lives, careers, and freedom. Adcock's main areas of coverage include money, personal finance, lifestyle, and digital nomad advice. Steve lives in a 100% off-grid solar home in the middle of the Arizona desert and writes on his own website at SteveAdcock.us.