7 Genius Home Office Hacks That'll Make Working from Home Way Better
Optimize your home office while the coronavirus pandemic has you working from home.
The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed what work looks like for millions of people, who have traded in suits, stale coffee, and fluorescent lights for sweatpants and the comfort of home. However, while working from home may seem like a dream job to some, actually creating a home office that's conducive to completing those urgent tasks is easier said than done. With the help of career experts, we've rounded up these home office hacks to help make your space a comfortable, productive, and peaceful place to check those items off your to-do list.
Set up your workspace near a window.
A dark, cave-like office space can make tackling those work tasks feel like an even more thankless job than usual. If you want to make the most of your WFH hours, try setting up your workspace near a window instead.
"Studies show that natural light in office spaces improves worker satisfaction and increases productivity. It's also been shown to enhance mood and encourage creativity," says holistic business coach Tiffany Napper.
However, if you don't have a window to spare, adding a few extra lamps to your home office can help keep you on track. "The extra light will help keep you alert, but without the strain often caused by typical office fluorescent lighting," adds career change coach Sumayya Essack, owner of Curate the Future.
Keep your monitor above eye level.
You may not have given much thought to your computer setup at the office, but at home, it's imperative that you make your workspace as ergonomic as possible to help limit distractions.
"Working in a kitchen chair looking down at a laptop might be an option for the occasional work-at-home day, but for extended periods, you need a flat screen monitor, so you're looking up," says Angelique Rewers, CEO of The Corporate Agent, who also recommends using a standing desk to keep your energy up throughout the day.
Use some energizing scents.
Your coworkers might not relish the idea of you filling the office with your preferred fragrance, but at home, doing so is your prerogative—and it may even improve your focus.
"Light a candle or fill an essential oil diffuser with energizing scents and only use it in your workspace during work hours," recommends Krista Karstens, a consultant with Pioneer Management Consulting, who particularly suggests peppermint and citrus-based oils. "When you use it every day, it reminds your brain of past productivity, and signals at the start of each day that it's time to work," she explains.
Have all of your essential daily supplies on hand.
If you want to make the most of your work hours at home, make sure you have everything you need on hand before you start work.
"It's good to get up and leave the room when taking a break, but by making sure you have what you need and making it easy to stay hydrated, you'll be able to focus by reducing multiple trips to the kitchen or another room," says Essack, who recommends bringing water, snacks, and all of your office essentials with you into your workspace with you at the beginning of the day.
Maintain a clearly defined workspace.
Even if you don't have a ton of room to spread out, clearly delineating your home office workspace can make it easier to stay focused on the task at hand.
"Have a dedicated area that you can establish as your 'office' space," even if it's just an area of the kitchen table you can call your own, suggests Tom Marino, founder of Monarch Life Coaching. Marino also recommends setting non-negotiable work hours and letting everyone you live with know what they are so they can give you the time and space you need to stay productive.
Keep a single item open on your computer at a time.
Instead of cluttering up your desktop and causing yourself stress, increase your focus by leaving just one tab open on your computer at a time and minimizing the rest.
"Only give your attention to the project you are working on," suggests Marino, who also recommends putting your cell phone away while you're working to stay on task. "Limiting distractions will allow you to get more done in a shorter time."
Keep your desk organized, and periodically clean it throughout the day.
A neat and organized home office might just be the key to avoiding distraction while you're working from home, and that starts with your desk.
"Minimizing visual distractions, clutter, and paper-related mess will help you to stay focused on your tasks," explains clinical psychologist Kimberly Dwyer, PhD. To keep your desk clear, Dwyer recommends using a two-tiered paper sorter with items that need attending to on top with due dates noted and ones that can be tossed on the bottom. Clear the lower tier—and anything else unrelated to your work—at the end of the day, and you can return to a distraction-free work space when you start up again the following day.