Making work-from-home really work
While working from home is a dream come true for some, it can be hell on earth for others. The term ‘home office’ is exceptionally broad, meaning anything from a cramped desk at the end of the bed, to an inspiring dedicated office space.
Choose your space wisely
The most important piece of advice I have on this topic is to take the time and thought to give yourself the very best working environment you can. The chances are you’ll spend more time here with your eyes wide open than you will in your lovely bedroom (largely with your eyes shut).
Ideally, keep your workspace out of your main bedroom. A desk at the end of the bed is really not a good idea. It can interrupt your sleep and impact how you feel about your work and life.
While an office with a view may sound like a recipe for a distracted mind, the opposite is true. It turns out that access to sunlight boosts productivity. In a study by the California Energy Commission, workers who sat near a window performed better, processing work up to 12 per cent faster and performing up to 25 percent better on tests on mental function and memory recall. That’s pretty good!
For years I worked in a shed in our garden. It was a tiny space, but it was quiet, had a nice outlook and worked really well.
These days I work two days in my city office, two days in my home office and then on the fifth day I have what I think of as some nomadic time. On this day I may head to my local library, as I find it the perfect place when I’m in writing mode, or I’ve got some hand-picked cafés that I spend a bit of time in.
You might want to have a look at coworking spaces. Many offer free trial days and having others around you can help give you a sense of connection. If you like the company but not the background noise of a coworking space, a good set of headphones with music or ‘white noise’ helps focus.
Give yourself permission to be inventive with how and where you work. This is your business, your work style. You get to choose, so don’t be afraid to try new things. The important point here is to make a conscious choice about where you work. Be purposeful and flexible - where you work this week can be different next week. Don’t be afraid to mix things up.
Creating your most productive environment
While many believe that creativity blooms from chaos, the truth is that for most of us a disordered office won’t help us get work done.
A Harvard Business Review study found that a clean desk helps you stick with a task for more than one and a half times longer. So, while it may feel like organised mess, you’re likely sitting in the middle of an obstacle to your productivity.
Workspaces can become magnets for clutter - unorganised files, unread books, reminders, stationery, receipts and overflowing inboxes, physical and virtual. All this really does is remind us of what’s unfinished; what we’ve yet to do.
And they are all temptations for procrastination. Even if you don’t think you’re noticing, your subconscious is weighed down by disarray, which impacts your focus.
By contrast, facing a clean and tidy workspace encourages consistency and persistence, and reduces frustration and fatigue. Start by clearing your desk, then make a commitment to keep it organised each day. Go on, surprise yourself, give it a go!
Of course, what’s most important is how your workspace makes you feel. Is it inviting, inspiring and motivating, or the opposite? Layout, colour and lighting all need careful consideration. Given you’ll likely be spending a fair amount of time in it, building a business you love, it’s crucial that it works for you.
Robert Gerrish is the founder of Flying Solo, author of The 1 - Minute Commute and host of the Rekindle podcast. Read more of his work at www.robertgerrish.com