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How to Create a Productive Home Office

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To be able to wake up, roll out of bed, and begin the workday from your productive home office has always seemed like a faraway fantasy for most employees. That is, until COVID-19 hit and made that dream into a reality, whether we were ready for it or not. 

All of us at Online Optimism have spent the past two months working at full capacity from home. We quickly started working from home with no estimation from local and national agencies of when we will be back in the office.

If you, like many of us at Online Optimism, have transitioned to working from home for the first time, you have undoubtedly realized that it’s a lot harder than it looks! I have compiled several tips and tricks that have helped me create a productive home office quickly. I hope they help you get to work too!

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Create a Workspace Just for You

“When the mind and body are in harmony, the mind works better.” -Caroline Prohosky

First things first: Find a workspace that is suitable for you. Here are some important aspects to consider when scouting out the perfect location for a productive home office:

  • Pick a quiet place, ideally in a room with a door to separate you from distractions. You should be able to complete all work tasks from this location.
  • Pick somewhere separate from your living space. You should not have a view of the television, and definitely do not try to work while in bed.
  • Put a plant on your desk, or have a window nearby. Having access to nature can boost productivity.
  • Make sure anyone who shares your living space is aware of your work hours and can respectfully distance themself during that time.

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A Cluttered Space is a Cluttered Mind: Clean Up for a Productive Home Office

“For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.” -Ben Franklin

Organization is most likely the first thing that comes to mind when brainstorming how to create a productive home office. This may seem clichéd, but it is absolutely the key to setting up your workspace. It only takes 5-10 minutes to organize your space and will save you from so much future stress. I also suggest spending an additional 5-10 minutes every Friday re-organizing so you can return Monday morning to a stress-free workspace. 

Here are some organizing tips:

  • Throw out all irrelevant items: completed sticky-note tasks, old papers, and empty food wrappers.
  • Bring your pens, pencils, and highlighters to one location, and have enough backups in case you run out of ink midday.
  • Wipe up your work desk; I guarantee there’s a coffee ring or crumbs somewhere!
  • Check that all wires and cables are untangled, plugged in, and accessible.
  • Have a location to store old papers and documents that you cannot throw away, such as binders or folders.

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Maintain a Daily Routine

“We become what we repeatedly do.” -Sean Covey

The most exciting aspect of working from home is probably the ability to roll out of bed and go to work still in your pajamas. Unfortunately, this can be the greatest cause of diminished productivity while working from home. In this article, Charlotte Armitage, a media and business psychologist from YAFTA, explains why:

 “Routine is important for maintaining our mental health and getting dressed is an important part of that routine,” she says. 

“The idea of staying in PJs all day has some negative connotations associated with it and therefore if we behave that way, we can start to feel lazy and demotivated which in turn leads to a lack of productivity and low activity levels, and consequently starts to create a negative vicious cycle.”

This does not mean that you have to dress to the nines every day, but sticking to a daily routine will keep you in a more productive headspace. Besides getting dressed, here are some other healthy activities to add to your daily routine:

  • Make your bed each morning.
  • Shower daily, and wash your face.
  • Water your plants.
  • Play with your pets.
  • Take a walk through your neighborhood.
  • Wash any dirty dishes before going to bed.

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You’re Minutes Away from a Productive Home Office

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started” -Mark Twain

Now that you have a few tips for how to create a productive home office, start implementing these changes in your workday! Any workspace improvements and daily routine changes that you make now will have you working and feeling better through the duration of quarantine.

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