Even though we’re still in the ‘dog days of summer’, you may be noticing the back to school/ back to work flyers arriving in your mailbox. Or how about that neat display filled with binders, pens, glue, and other stationery supplies at your local retailer?
We are all about getting every drop out of summer vacation, and don’t want to season rush you, but like it or not September is coming….
This time of year, often marks people refocusing on goals, buckling down in the office, or heading back to school for the fall.
Creating a fantastic workspace at home can increase your productivity, decrease your stress levels, and help you separate your professional/academic life from your personal one. Whether you’re creating an entirely new working space or just looking to streamline your current one, here are seven tips for creating a study you’ll want to work in.
Stay Out Of High Traffic Areas
While some people have the luxury of a spacious, soundproofed home office, with a breathtaking view, and giant doors allowing a definite divide between professional and personal lives, most people don’t have the space for this. The truth is some of us don’t have a defined room in our home for a work area and end up working wherever. The best bet is to avoid the noisiest places in your home and opt for areas with limited foot traffic, even if it’s simply an alcove in an upstairs hallway. Our Home From Scratch blogger John Gerard told The Muse, “I’m much more efficient in a quiet, distraction-free space. Our home office is far enough away from the television and the play area that, with the doors closed, I can easily work in peace.”
Your Desk Matters
We’ve all heard of ‘investment pieces’ in a wardrobe, whether it’s a great fitted suit or a little black dress. Your desk is the investment piece for your office, so don’t just buy what’s on sale. Remember this is where you’re going to be sitting day after day, hour after hour. Look for one that is ergonomically friendly and allows you to stay both organized and focused. Jamie Fertsch, Director and Cofounder of XDesk, who creates customized, ergonomic desks using environmentally conscious materials told Business News Daily, “Your personal workspace is one of the most overlooked factors that affect productivity. Whether it’s rummaging through your drawers to locate an important document or having too many knick-knacks, a clean and efficient desk setup is key to your success.”
Make sure you set up your computer so it’s not straining your eyes. Spend some money on a quality, adjustable office chair to keep you sitting in the best possible position at your desk. Those who have the room and find they sit too often may want to consider setting up a standing desk in one corner of their workspace so they can spend some time standing. Some ergonomic rules to follow when setting up your space are 1) Keep the top of your computer screen at eye level or a smidge below since as you read down your screen your eye lids will automatically close a bit, maintaining moisture and reducing eye strain 2) Adjust your chair to ensure your feet are resting firmly on the floor, and 3) Ensure your forearms are parallel to the floor when using your keyboard to avoid straining your arms and wrists.
Let There Be Natural & Artificial Light
The light we need to relax in front of a family dinner in our dining room is different than what we need in our home office. Linda Varone is the author of The Smarter Home Office. She told Fast Company that even rooms with fantastic natural light will need additional lighting for darker times of the day or winter when less sunlight is going to come through. She suggests some table lamps, which provide a softer glow. Linda also emphasizes that desk positioning is important and says, “a lot of people kind of reflexively put it right up against the wall in the darkest corner of the room. What they’ve inadvertently done is recreated the corporate cubicle.” Instead she suggests moving your desk closer to a window but placing it parallel to the windowpanes. This will allow the benefits of the natural light, and a great place to look to give your eyes a break from your computer screen.
Create A Comfy Space
The purpose of a traditional desk is for active work. Odds are you’ll also need a good place for thinking, reading or taking notes, whether they’re in a textbook or on a set of white papers. If you have the room, try placing a nice chair with an ottoman to put up your feet while you read, or a couch with a nice throw. Not only will this warm up the look of your office, but it will also allow you to attend to other items that require your complete attention in comfort. Linda Varone believes that the sanctuary of a comfort zone is, “the overlooked perk of the home office. If you’ve got the room for it, it is one of the best things you can do for yourself.”
Colour Yourself Productive
By looking at the psychology of how different hues impact your brain’s performance you can select the best colours for your space to help you work. That, and your personal preference. A study conducted by University of Texas shows that bland gray, beige and white offices conjure depression and feelings of sadness, particularly for women. For men, these unpleasant feelings are connected with orange and purple work environments. If you work in a creative field, psychologists suggest using a mellow shade of yellow, which is said to ignite innovation with its fresh optimistic energy.
Blues and greens are low-wavelength colours, common within nature, and proven to increase energy levels, focus, efficiency, and overall productivity.
Speaking of green, a research team in the UK found that keeping plants in the office could increase productivity by up to 15 percent. The same study also shows that plant life in the office can boost workplace satisfaction and engagement.
Keep On Decluttering
Offices amass a lot of junk, particularly when they’re multipurpose use rooms. Regularly rid your home office of old coffee mugs, paper piles that need to be shredded, thrown out, or filed, and whatever else is taking up physical and mental space. Keep storage boxes out of sight or in another room altogether. It’s tough to keep focus when everything around you is clutter! No matter how basic your set up is, one without junk is always going to be more effective!