Struggling to find focus while working from home? It can be as simple as improving the positioning of your desk or other equipment, and by incorporating habits that condition your brain to switch to work mode. Best of all, you can use these tips whether you have extra space or not.
Working remotely in makeshift home offices became a reality many of us faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s likely that at first, not too much time or thought went into setting up functional working spaces since many of us thought it would be short-term arrangement. Well, joke’s on all of us. There we were, working from kitchen tables or alongside our children as we juggled our work and their homework.
Even with the pandemic easing up, many of us are still working from home and are planning to do so for the foreseeable. Many employers have realized that their teams can function effectively remotely, and that a physical (and costly) office space does not necessarily lead to a higher productivity. The post-covid world will likely be much more flexible in terms of work location.
What does this mean?
It’s time to get comfortable and spruce up that work from home office – especially if it’s not inspiring or motivating you anymore.
If you’re struggling to find a space in your home or condo that work for you, you’re not alone. Using common living areas as workspaces can greatly affect our focus and overall mood. It can be mentally draining and confusing to work in a space with various distractions and chores or somewhere you previously used to relax and wind down.
Even if your space is limited, there are many options to enhance the space you do have. From getting proper equipment to trying out new accessories or simply decluttering, these can all help you achieve mental clarity and calmness. Let’s explore these tips now.
Create a Dedicated Space
An ideal office space is used exclusively for working – and has a door. This makes it easy to walk in to work and walk out at the end of the day. But this obvious separation between work and home is not always available. If you haven’t considered converting a closet, or unused corner of your house into a little work nook than take a good look now. Don’t shy away from unlikely, unused spaces. All you need is a place that is out of the way, and as distraction-free as possible. Luckily, there are plenty of home décor websites that you can consult for inspiration when setting up an office space at home. Whether it’s an area below your stairs, a stair landing, attic or basement, the options are endless and will vary greatly. Just try to keep in mind that spaces with plenty of natural light (such as beside a window or on your balcony/patio) will boost your mood and your productivity.
Once you’ve claimed a space as your dedicated work station, stock it up with whatever stationary you’ll need throughout the day so you don’t have to constantly get up and look for a notepad or pen. Create the same atmosphere you would at an actual office and bring in some plants, snacks and water to keep you nourished and satisfied.
Have absolutely no space? Don’t despair, the next few tips will not take up any more space – promise!
Decluttering is essential, especially if you have no choice but to use a kitchen table as your workspace. Wherever you work from, declutter as much as you can from the surfaces you work on or are in front of. Yes, that means clearing the kitchen counters each morning before work and putting as much as you can away into the cupboards. It may seem a bit silly to move things away, just to bring them back at the end of the day, but this ritual can also prepare your mind for work mode – and keep distractions at bay. If you declutter at the start of your day, this will get rid of a major visual distraction that could otherwise break you away from focus. Think about it this way: outside clutter can lead to internal clutter of thoughts and emotions.
The space you work in can affect cognition, emotion, and behavior. Clutter causes the brain to release cortisol – a stress hormone – that can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression. Think of decluttering as a step towards better mental and physical health. A clean space means a productive workday. If you’re ambitious, don’t just stop at your workspace but declutter other areas of your house and rejoice in those small, newfound spaces.
Invest in a Proper Desk and Monitor Height
Do you find yourself in need of a good stretch or massage after a day at the kitchen table? You’re definitely not alone.
If you don’t have access to an actual desk or adjustable table, there are many other options that are important to consider. Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is pain felt in tendons, muscles and nerves that arise due to repetitive movement and use. This makes it critical to pay attention to back and muscle pain or strain and make adjustments when sitting and looking at a monitor for multiple hours each day. The proper placement of forearms, elbows, wrists, hands, neck and shoulders are all very important and may have been overlooked in your at-home workspace set-up.
For the head, neck, and spine to align and avoid strain, line up your monitor so you are looking straight ahead at the screen while sitting up straight. Keep the shoulders level, and never hunch forward. When looking at your monitor, see if your eyes are at about a quarter or 30% the way down from the top of the screen. This is a good target to keep the upper body parts aligned and relieve neck strain. You can start adjusting right now by using a couple thick books to raise up your monitor. You can even build you own laptop riser – just remember to measure the distance between the work surface and the eye level to be 25-30% from the top of the screen.
Get a Good Chair
A chair that is not designed for deskwork, such as dining chairs, foldable chairs, or other comfy lounge seats, are almost never adjustable and make it impossible to sit up straight with your eyes at a comfortable level. If you can’t get your hands on an office chair, try adjusting the desk instead, or prop yourself up as much as possible with blankets and pillows. You want to take strain off the lower back and encourage an upright posture while sitting. An optimal office chair will have wheels, be adjustable (including seat tilt, arm height and position) and support the lower back (called lumbar spine).
Working from home is not a trend, it is now a widely accepted and commonplace practice. If your home office is just not cutting it anymore, you can easily switch it up by improving the positioning of your desks or other equipment, and by incorporating habits that condition your brain to stay in work mode. Even small changes can improve your focus and motivation, so why not give them a try?
If you’re thinking about reinventing your home office, check out our store to find the perfect desk, bookcase, storage unit or anything else that you might need to create the perfect space!