By Essie Bester
However ideal it may sound to work from home, it needs a level of self-control, discipline and boundary-setting that at times can feel almost impossible what with household chores like washing and doing the dishes waiting for you.
Fortunately, with the right approach you can keep these types of temptations at bay. The following are six easy but effective ways of transforming your home office into a creative place that promotes productivity.
A dedicated workspace
There is a strong link between spatial awareness and any activities that involve space. This means that if you regularly work from your bed your brain begins to associate the bedroom with work – which can make it more difficult for you to fall asleep.
Therefore, distinguish between places of rest and work in the house. Whether it’s a chair at the kitchen table, a desk in the corner or a whole office, look for a space dedicated to work so that, when you sit down there your thoughts link that area with productivity.
Try to use one computer for work and a separate one for social media and recreation. Use the work computer in the same way as one in any corporate office. When you switch it on there must be no non-work apps to distract you. This should immediately put you in the mood for work.
To stay focused while working from home, you must teach yourself to tidy up your workspace from time to time, like disposing of old paperwork together with any unnecessary accessories. The fewer unnecessary things you gather around you, the more focused you will be when you sit down to work.
If you do a large amount of paperwork, you may need a filing cabinet. For most people, however, a few desk drawers or shelves should be adequate. Set aside a dedicated space for incoming mail or work on the to-do list, another for projects in process, and a third storage area for finalised projects or paid accounts.
Organising your computer files in a similar way – storing upcoming work and work you are busy with and completed projects in a cloud data basis− can help you keep abreast of the tasks that you still have to do.
Noise is a distraction
If you have a family nearby their activities could easily interrupt your line of thought. Finding ways to subdue external sounds will help you concentrate. Look at a solid-wood office door. Earphones can also help.
Invest in a comfortable chair
Because you spend quite a lot of hours a day in your desk chair, you must make sure that it is comfortable. Get an adjustable desk chair, one that provides strong back support and has a cushioned seat. This will help you to maintain a good posture for a full workday.
Make sure that you take scheduled breaks away from your computer. Make sure to rest your eyes every 20 minutes and get up from time to time and move around. A recent study by DeskTime (an app that can help with time management) indicated that the most productive interval was 52 minutes of work that has to be interrupted by a 17minute break. Just take care that you do not get caught up in household chores during your rest break.
Even if your workspace is at your kitchen table, you should be excited and even feel inspired when you enter the area. Create a space that will motivate you, even if it means hanging interesting pictures or surrounding yourself with books and writers that you admire. It could just provide that extra motivation you need to finish a project or make a deadline.
Bring in light from outside
Natural daylight lifts one’s mood and productivity and decreases the need for artificial lighting. However, if you cannot be close to a window you can surround yourself with plants. The greenery will liven up the space and lower carbon dioxide levels.
Allow yourself the wherewithal to stay organised
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a few shelves, a drawer organiser or something as simple as a penholder, the right desk accessories can make a big difference to your productivity levels. Therefore, look for items (such as brightly coloured folders or a sleek filing cabinet), which will help you to stay organised.
To make sure that you function at your most efficient level, your workspace must be work-ready. For instance, you do not want your workflow interrupted by a visit to the shops because your printer has run out of paper. Invest in your workspace so that it is the same as what you would find in any corporate building.
Make sure that you have the stationery and items you need to do your work. This includes a good internet connection. How easy is it to get to your router if you have to fix something? Have you got enough bandwidth for online meetings? What is the position with the area behind your desk? What do your colleagues and clients see when they talk to you on camera?
Keep all office requisites that you may need at hand and make sure they are the latest and in a working condition because trying to make things work with the wrong equipment or struggling with problematic old technology is really a distraction.
As an additional benefit the investments you make in your home office as well as the equipment you use could be tax-deductible. There are, however, many factors that play a role here, so professional advice is necessary before you claim.