If you work from home even part of the time, chances are, you struggle with distractions. You’re certainly not alone. While some distraction is perfectly natural, if it’s getting in the way of a productive day, it’s time to make a change. A home office that promotes concentration and creativity and protects you from diversions is simpler than you think—and we’ve got six tips to get you there.
1. Make room for work
Of course, distraction is an issue at the office, too, but it’s more manageable because the entire space is dedicated to work and efficiency. You don’t want to turn your entire home into an office, but you do want to set a clear and distinct space that is just for work and outfit it accordingly.
Ideally, your workspace is as far away as from the living areas of the house as possible, or has a door that you can keep closed. That way, when you’re working, it’s all about work, and when you’re not, you don’t have to be distracted from a relaxing evening at home by your inbox. Your first defense against diversion is to create a space that you actually enjoy spending time in. Indulge in a favorite paint color, hang some prints or photos that you love, and pop on some music when you walk through that door.
2. Outfit the space
Ever notice how your house is really clean when you have a deadline? Organizing doesn’t feel like procrastination, but it often is. Keep your home office easy to organize by making sure you have the space and equipment to do the job—and to keep the space tidy. Shelves, rather than cabinets and drawers, keep everything accessible—not only so you can easily get at what you need, but so you can easily put it away, too. Simple bathroom hooks installed over the desk do wonders to keep the desk clear, and give you easy access to headphones, charging cables, and keys. So many of our clients who work from home also do a lot of shipping from home, and a stylish towel rack repurposed above the workspace is another great way to keep things in order.
3. Don’t go cable crazy
A tangled twist of computer and electronics cables gets in the way of productivity in the inevitable event that you need to move equipment or a cable comes loose. But it’s also the kind of thing that promotes procrastination every time you sit down and see that mess staring you in the face. I mean, how can you get any work done until that’s taken care of? Choose one of the many cable management systems available today according to your particular work style, and cut down on the equipment as much as possible, too. Make sure your printer also works as a copier and fax machine, and use your computer for music and video.
4. Figure out the filing
People often overthink filing. Accessible and organized files are very important, but filing cabinets are not always a necessary or convenient choice. Here, too, shelves with baskets and binders for files you use frequently keep the work flowing and the clean up simple. My rule is to touch everything no more than once, so if I don’t have to head for cold storage every time I need to file an invoice, I’m much more likely to do it right then.
5. Let in the light
One of the first reasons we get distracted is because we get tired. Though we tend to forget it, our eyes are what we use most when we work, and a day spent looking at computer screens, invoices and spreadsheets can be exhausting. That’s why good lighting is crucial to keeping you focused both visually and mentally. You want three layers of light: Ambient, task and accent lighting.
Use a dimmer switch on the main source of overhead light so you have strong light when you need it, but can tone it down, too. Desk and floor lamps will help you keep your eyes on the details, and accent lighting will be helpful in maintaining an attractive and intimate space that’s pleasant to be in.
6. Sit up straight!
Finally, make sure to invest in a good office chair. It’s hard to sit up straight for long stretches of time, but today’s ergonomic office chairs make that a much simpler and more relaxing affair.
Keep it simple to look at, but make sure it has the ergonomic controls that address your personal body issues. One of the first reasons we walk away from the work in front of us is because we’re tired of sitting, so the right chair removes one more source of distraction.
Now, tell us your tips for creating a workspace that keeps you working!
Interior designer Kerrie Kelly writes on home organization and home office décor for Home Depot. Kerrie’s ideas focus on helping you become more productive at home through the creative use of design and décor. To view office bookcase and shelving options that could improve your home workspace, you can visit Home Depot’s selections online.