Do you work from home but find you just can’t focus?
Giving your home office a makeover could help, after all they do say that an organised desk is an organised mind!
I am a firm believer that our work space should be separate to our living space; now I’m not necessarily saying that they need their own rooms, just their own areas. In other words; sitting on your sofa with a laptop is not a work space. It is important to be able to detach ourselves from that work mode and into a relaxed living mode. There is nothing worse than trying to relax in your living space but you have that niggle feeling of work in the back of your mind. There needs to be a visual disconnect between the 2 spaces to be able to really switch off.
If your home office is uninspiring then you will likely be un-inspired in your work. You would be amazed by how much the environments we work in affect our psychological function and ultimately our productivity.
Here are some quick easy tips to help make sure that your home office is not only practical, but also beautiful ….. even if you are having a hideous working week!
1 Home office spaces are most commonly the smallest room in the house , often the box room; which according to the estate agent (and the house price!) is a third bedroom; but lets face it you cant swing a bloody cat in there let alone keep someone prisoner in there as a bedroom! So with that in mind, keeping the walls fresh and light is important so that you don’t feel boxed in and start clawing at the walls looking for an escape. Avoid heavy patterns and bold prints, an accent cushion is fine but don’t be tempted to take it further, in this space you are not wanting to create a feast for the eyes you need to keep the space calm and tranquil so that hopefully you feel that flow and energy and the work just happens in a natural state ……. Sit back, relax, breathe and work; now wouldn’t that be nice!
2 Make sure to allow as much natural light into the room as possible, but be careful how and where you position your screen to avoid light glare from direct sunlight. The last thing you want is to strain your eyes and for a headache to hit when you are on the eleventh hour of your deadline. If you are not lucky enough to have ample natural light to work through the day then you need to carefully consider your task lighting, and if your job is anything like mine you will be working long into the night anyway; so goodbye sunshine and hello desk lamp! To get started; place your desk to make the most of the natural light, then wait for nightfall and see what light you have to work with from your ceiling fixtures so that you can accurately assess where additional light may be needed. There is little point in doing this exercise during the day, this would be the equivalent of watching fireworks in the afternoon……pretty pointless! Ensure that your artificial light is evenly distributed and that you cater for all the requirements of your work. For example, if you are drawing small details or crafting you may need some concentrated light, but concentrated light from directly overhead would cast a shadow, so you would need a low level task light. Another aspect to consider is the circadian rhythm, light is so important to our body clock and how we function throughout the day and this often not thought about in residential lighting.
3 If you sit behind a desk for hours at a time, you’re not doomed to a career of neck and back pain or sore wrists and fingers. Proper ergonomics including correct chair height, adequate equipment spacing and good desk posture are crucial. Make sure there’s adequate clearance for your knees, thighs and feet to be comfortable under the desk and place the monitor directly in front of you; about an arm’s length away. The top of the screen should be at, or slightly below eye level. Choose a chair that supports your spinal curves, if possible adjust the height of your chair so that your feet rest flat on the floor or on a footrest and your thighs are parallel to the floor. I understand that most office chairs with adjustable height are not, shall we say, aesthetically pleasing! So if you don’t have an adjustable height chair or just cant find a pretty one, then just try to check the chair with the desk height to ensure its comfortable. You could try something a little different like the design focused W Chair, the Chair’s geometry and angles are designed to reduce pressure on the backbone. and it is produced in small, medium and large sizes based on your height. I think you will agree its a great little piece of furniture! (this is not an advertisement, I just really like the chair!)
4 It is important to have a break once in a while; but you know, as do I from working at home myself, that if you go downstairs and switch on that TV you will sink deeper and deeper into the sofa and before you know it, the working day is over! If you have space I suggest adding a small lounge chair to give yourself a break away from your desk and screen without the risk of the sofa abyss! Plus it looks great too and the space becomes more relaxed and informal, which is the benefit to working at home…..aside from the endless supply of biscuits! This not only becomes a break out space but also a change of scenery, if you have documentation to read you can do that in comfort rather than at your desk. A change in surrounding, even if you are still in the same room, helps to reset your focus and wake you up a little. Research has shown that how you work is dependent on your surroundings, so it may be good to find a different surrounding that you can use once in a while, like a co-working environment to work to give you that visual change. This also helps to give you a social element to your working life (so you don’t go stir crazy talking to yourself or your cat!) in most cases people who work in an office will spend time chatting about the weekend, go for after work drinks and make friendships in the workplace that carry through into their social life and you loose this much need human interaction when working from home. People who work from home will often find that when the weekend comes around they are eager to get out of the house; even if only for a few hours.
5 Just because it is seen as a working space doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t give it the same love and attention as the rest of the house. You don’t want it to feel bland and uninspiring so you should add a layer of personality with accessories, bookshelves are not just for books you know! People have a misconception that an office space should not be cluttered with ‘stuff’ but I disagree, so long as its organised it is important to have some soul in the space.
Here are some quick tips for creating the perfect shelfie!
- Decide the look you are wanting to achieve.
- Group the items you have already to see what fits together, but avoid being too matchy matchy as that can often just end up looking boring!
- Play with height and numbers, odd numbers groupings often work better, remember to work with the shelf depth to place things in forefront and background.
- Keep it balanced, avoid placing all the focal items on one side or all on same shelf.
- Remember to consider proportion and scale, too many small items will end in a cluttered look .
- Be aware of mirroring; avoid symmetry.
- Add some soft furnishing or texture.
- Add life; in the form of a plant, a hanging creeper looks great from a top shelf.
- Keep playing with it until it feels right and have fun!