9 Expert Tips for Actually Working From Home
The idea of working from home sounds fantastic - until you're actually trying to get some work done and the dog is barking, the doorbell is ringing, family members are racing around making noise and you start to feel like a hermit who never leaves.
So, while the dream of working from home does not often match the reality, there are steps we can take to create a relaxing home office oasis that will inspire us to get to work each day and actually focus.
Today, we are going to share our best design tips for setting up a home office that will really help you get your job done.
1. Location, Location, Location:
Similar to choosing where you will live, the location of your home office is imperative to your productivity, too. Many new home builds are showcasing home office nooks designed in the heart of the home, such as right by the kitchen or in an upstairs loft.
These look pretty, but unless your home is empty and you are a master at blocking out distractions, such as those dirty dishes in the sink taunting you, trying to work in the middle of the activity hub is going to be a challenge.
More than likely, your work life will thrive if you design a home office space off the beaten path. Try to find a quieter area somewhere else in the house where you can set up a place to focus.
We share even more tips for how to carve out the perfect office nook and what to consider in this post here.
2. Clear The Clutter:
Most people are going to be distracted by clutter, boxes, trash, and other distractions if they're trying to work. If you're not so bothered by it, you could still be impacted subconsciously and not even realize it.
If you've ever watched shows like The Home Edit or Hoarders, you see the visible relief on people's faces when their formerly cluttered areas are wiped clean.
This is because clutter can definitely impact our ability to be productive. Clutter not only distracts us, but it can "bombard our minds with excessive stimuli, causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren't necessary or important. Clutter distracts us by drawing our attention away from what our focus should be on," (source).
The mental load of clutter can literally slow you down. So, take the time to arrange your desk and the area around it with care.
3. Become a Minimalist:
When it comes to your office, less is more. Use minimalistic principles to get rid of anything you don't use or don't need. Shred documents once you've saved PDFs to your computer. Scan anything you don't need a paper copy of. Get rid of anything extraneous that you don't need to work. Tuck cords behind things so they aren't creating a mess.
Basically, only leave what you actually use on your desk and a couple things that inspire you.
The goal here is to clear your space to help clear your mind. We love the mantra, "Outer order, inner calm."
4. Set The Mood...for Work:
It's interesting how we know the importance of setting the mood for things like a romantic dinner, a fun birthday party, putting a baby to sleep, and much more. Yet, when it comes to work, we expect ourselves to just plop in a seat anywhere, at any time, turn our brains on and immediately do brilliant work.
But, setting the mood can go a long way to helping you get ready to work and be productive. This is especially true if you're in a creative space or where you're working closely with other people and need to be fully present, like we are in real estate and sales.
Here are some things to consider that we will be exploring in more detail:
You can make your own list for the things that distract you or take a toll on your mental load while trying to focus, but here are a few of ours to get your started:
5. Consider Aromatherapy:
Something we have been trying out in our home offices is aromatherapy. Simply diffusing some essential oils that may help with mental clarity and focus can add additional element to your productivity. One that we have been using lately is Eden's Garden Joy. 4-5 drops in a diffuser with cold water and you're ready to go.
If you struggle to stay calm during your work flow, pick up essential oil blends designed to relax and reduce anxiety, such as Eden's Garden Worry Less.
Maybe you feel rushed constantly, a blend designed to help your mind slow down and encourage you to breathe would be a good fit, such as Eden's Garden Relaxation.
We also like brands like Plant Therapy and NOW, although choose the one that is right for you.
6. Set Ambience:
Another way you can create a relaxing home office is to consider ambience. This could include lighting a candle, having a cozy blanket nearby if you get cold, creating spaces or nooks where you can change position or stretch if you start to get tired of sitting in one spot and removing distractions, such as televisions and magazines.
Lighting is a big part of ambience, too. Maybe you need to open the blinds to let in the light or close them to shut out distractions from a neighbor's house.
If you tend to get hungry, set up some snacks before you sit down, instead of having to get up to go get a snack and risk getting distracted by something in another part of the house. Make sure you have something to drink nearby as well.
We often naturally do these things for others when we want them to be comfortable, yet when it comes to ourselves, we expect to just be able to sit for hours in one place and work, work, work. Turns out, we all benefit from taking a few moments to thoughtfully create an environment suited for work.
Spend a few minutes setting the area that you intend to work so that you can really be at your best.
7. Plan for Noises:
Background and environmental noises are an important part of ambience, so we're giving them their own section. This is a really important one that can impact your work flow.
I once had a work call with a client who had a dog barking loudly in the background. We had to constantly repeat ourselves and I could see that they were very distracted by it (as was I). If you know you have a pet at home that is going to distract you, set yourself up for success by planning around that.
Is there a toy or treat that will keep them busy? Should they be put in an exercise pen in another room or outside so you're not distracted by them? Is there a way to walk them before you do important calls so that they will sleep after and you can work?
You love your pet, no doubt, but if they're barking constantly - they're not happy, either. So, plan around this work companion so you can both be successful.
Also, consider other ambient noise, such as environmental noise. Perhaps put a sign on the door not to ring the doorbell. Use a white noise machine or a small fountain to drown out neighbors who are landscaping their backyard. Put on relaxing quiet music to help your brain focus. If you start to fall asleep? Take a minute to get up and move around to some energetic music to perk back up.
Noise can be your friend and your motivator - or it can be your greatest distraction.
Okay, we know not everyone is a big fan of meditating - but hear us out. You can use free meditation apps now to help your brain get ready for almost anything, from sleep to working. In just a few minutes of meditation, you can see a huge difference in your ability to set aside anything that is going on in your life that is distracting you, so you can truly focus.
There are plenty of apps out there, including the popular app Calm with meditations designed by Jay Shetty, so find the one that is right for you. Check out this post here with more details on 9 free mediation apps that you can use to get your head in the right space for work.
9. Set Up a Daily Ritual:
Now, take what works for you from this list and your own ideas to craft a daily ritual. I have started using this at the start of my work day and have found it to be very impactful.
This is going to be slightly different for each person, so be willing to try new things and mix it up until you find the daily ritual that is going to help you be your most successful.
Here's what it might look like:
Set up dogs in their area with what they need to be quiet and happy.
Make any snacks and drinks that you'll need until your first scheduled break.
Take them into your office and start to set up the ambience: turn on quiet music or small fountain for white noise, adjust lighting, and start aromatherapy diffuser.
Do some light organizing to get rid of any clutter and clear space for work.
Use phone to complete a short 5-minute productivity meditation.
Open computer and make to-do list for the day and start to work.
Again, this is going to be unique to you and require some trial and error, but hopefully this list gives you an idea of a place to start.
Designing a ritual is a powerful way to develop good habits. Working from home certainly requires us to have solid work habits, so we don't get distracted by all the things (hello Netflix!).
One of the best parts of setting up these rituals is that over time, the simple act of taking these steps will help your brain begin to get ready for the work day. By the time, you're sitting down in your desk chair, it'll be go time.
If you're interested in reading more about setting up rituals that help with habits, check out the bestselling book, "Atomic Habits" by James Clear.
We hope these tips have given you some great ideas for how you can actually work from home. The thought of sitting at home in your yoga pants instead of the drudgery of getting all dressed up to sit in traffic for an hour sounds glamorous at first, but can very quickly become mundane and uninspiring.
With the same effort we put into other areas of our lives, our work life can also thrive with some attention to environment, ambience, noise, mediation, and designing daily rituals that will build positive work habits.
We'll be adding to this series soon, so come back to read more about working from home.
And, if you're looking for an honest, successful, real estate agent or team with expertise in the Sacramento area, including Granite Bay, to help you find a home with the perfect home office - reach out! We would be happy to talk with you about your real estate goals. Give us a call at 916.524.9733.