Another guest post this week. This one comes from Rachel Craig of Quality Formations:
Working from home. Well doesn’t that sound nice? It is. It’s utterly delightful, which is why I do it on a full-time basis, with the odd trip to the coffee shop when I feel like a change of scenery or a conversation with someone other than my dogs. However, working in your own home does come with its challenges, more so if you don’t create an appropriate environment that facilitates efficiency and productivity.
There is a tendency (for some) to just sit on the couch or at the kitchen table to work. I’ve tested both methods. They’re not ideal. I’ve also tried sitting at my window seat and on my bed. Again, the outcome in both situations was a tad disappointing, yet not particularly surprising. I was in a bad mood, my back was killing me and I didn’t get a great deal of work done.
Tips for success
The key to success when working from home is to establish a routine, be mindful of your health, and create a designated, well-designed workspace. Be that an entire room in your house, or just a section of your kitchen, living room or bedroom, the space needs to be functional, organized, free from distraction and aesthetically pleasing.
A home office should also look and feel like it’s solely for the purpose of work, otherwise you may struggle to make the mental distinction between your working environment and your home environment. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, though you can if you want. With just a little bit of thought and careful planning, you can create a stimulating working environment that is conducive to maximum productivity.
1) Daily routine
Most of us function better with a degree of order in our lives. This helps us to focus, stay motivated, work more efficiently and better react to unexpected challenges. As a result, we achieve more and enjoy a greater sense of satisfaction and contentment, both at work and in our personal lives. Failure to implement an appropriate daily routine will simply lead to disorganization, stress, lack of concentration and decreased productivity. None of which are conducive to success.
By creating a clear, structured plan of what you need to do and when you are going to do it, you will work more efficiently, improve your general health and wellbeing, and achieve a better work-life balance. This may include:
- Deciding what time you’re going to get up to achieve your tasks.
- Choosing your start and finish times for work.
- Scheduling your tasks for the day.
- Incorporating regular breaks and physical exercise into your day.
- Remembering to eat well and drink fluids often.
- Making time for rest and relaxation.
- Making time for friends and family.
- Deciding what time you’re going to go to bed to ensure optimal sleep.
It’s tempting to just wing it and take each day as it comes. I’ve tried this and it’s really damaging. People who enjoy the most success in life almost always rely on routine. It’s not about doing exactly the same thing every day, it’s about planning and organizing your life based on your own needs and goals.
Our surroundings have a huge impact on our productivity levels, mood and general wellbeing. It’s therefore important to design your office environment with both function and aesthetics in mind. You will spend a great deal of your time in this space, so it needs to be practicable, comfortable and decorated in a way that is appropriate and thoughtful.
The color of your walls requires careful consideration because color profoundly impacts our emotions, behavior and productivity. As a general rule, avoid stark white walls. Blues, blue-greens and soft neutrals, like warm greys and yellows, are generally accepted to be the most appropriate colors for creating a healthy, inspiring and productive office space.
3) Office chair
If you’re going to be working at a computer for the majority of your day, you should invest in an ergonomic office chair that adequately supports your back and pelvis, promotes comfort and facilitates good posture. An appropriate chair will minimize the risk of developing lower back injury, neck pain, trapped nerves, headaches, poor concentration and fatigue, so your choice of office chair isn’t just a case of choosing something that looks nice or using one of your existing kitchen chairs.
Lighting has a huge impact on mood, energy levels and productivity, so appropriate office lighting is essential. If you can utilize natural light, do so. Harsh artificial lighting can be incredibly damaging and promotes tiredness. Natural light has the opposite effect, but you should avoid placing your desk directly facing a window – glorious weather can be a distraction!
If you’re not lucky enough to have a window in your home office, or you don’t get much light in your designated work space, an artificial daylight lamp is a great choice for replicating natural light. They can be a little pricey, but the benefits are worth the financial cost. Your mood will improve, your energy levels will increase, you will feel more motivated and you will sleep better at night. As a result, you will be far more productive at work.
Clear boundaries are essential when working from home. When you’re in your office space, it’s time for work. You should not be disturbed, so make this clear to friends and family. When you work from home, people often forget that you’re actually working, or they think you can stop and start at any time. This can be incredibly stressful and damaging to productivity. Make it clear that during certain hours, or when you’re in your office space, you should not be disturbed.
Conversely, when you’re in another part of the house, it’s time to relax and switch off from work. When you’re on a break or finished for the day, you should remove yourself from the office space to make that mental switch from work mode to personal mode. This is why it’s so important to have a dedicated work space that is visually distinct and/or completely separate from the rest of your home, otherwise the lines can easily blur. As a result, you’ll either fail to switch off from work mode, or you’ll struggle to concentrate and stay motivated when you’re trying to work.
Rachel Craig is the senior content writer and editor for Quality Formations Ltd, industry experts in setting up a limited company in the UK.
A specialist in her field, Rachel provides in-depth guidance and advice on UK company registration, corporate compliance and starting a new business.