25 Jan 6 Tips For Building The Perfect Home Office And Getting Sh*t Done
Working from home takes a special kind of dedication and discipline.
With the fridge and TV just steps away, you can see why a lot of people prefer the strcuture of going into an office and the concept of “fewer distractions” (I would argue that there are fewer distractions in an office setting).
However, with the right kind of attitude and a little knowledge to back you up, you can transform your home office into a dojo of creativity and absolute efficiency. We even found some science to back it up.
See below for our Top 6 Hacks to transform your home office into a kick ass, creative work space.
1. Don’t mix your work space with your personal space.
Create a space that you can walk into and turn work mode ON! And when you are done working, close the door and enjoy your rest and relaxation. Even seeing your office space while trying to relax will put your brain into work mode.
Additionally, the simple act of making your own decisions about how to organize your work space has an empowering effect – control of our environment has been linked to improved professional performance.
In a 2010 study, Craig Knight, Director of the Identity Realization workplace consultancy, along with Alex Haslam performed an experiment involving 47 office workers in London. In it, workers were given the opportunity to arrange a small office with as many or few plants and pictures as they wanted. Those workers were up to 32% more productive than others not given this control. They also identified more with their employer, a sign of increased commitment to the team effort and increased efficiency.
So how can you leave yourself options to rearrange things and move around as you work?
A rolling chair and multiple work surfaces will give you the freedom to switch positions and manage tasks more efficiently. If you’re working at a desk, turning the lamp on and off, opening and closing windows, and reading while sitting on the window seat will add to your mental power.
Another home office hack: furniture that is curved and rounded rather than sharp and straight-edged creates an environment that has been linked with positive emotions, which is in turn beneficial for creativity and productivity.
2. Buy a standing desk and start moving more!
Quite simply, studies have shown that healthy employees tend to be more productive.
In fact, increased movement can lead to improvement in motor function, attention and even cognitive speed, all which have the potential to impact your work performance.
Movement at work can also help individuals work better in a group setting.
Imagine a setting where employees are encouraged to be out of their seats and moving around. They are more likely to run into coworkers that can lead to creative conversations and cross-functional solutions.
Standing meetings can also improve group dynamics, leading to higher levels of engagement in routine check-ins. Take it one step further, and schedule your next pow-wow for a walking meeting around the block – nature can be a huge inspirational kick in the pants (as you’ll find in Tip #3).
Looking for a solid standing desk, but don’t have the space at home? I personally have the VERIDESK (see photo above) – a perfect solution to transform your desk into a sitting or standing work station.
Check them out and purchase one for yourself on Amazon below:
3. Fill your space with inspiring art and color.
“The Earth without art is just ‘Eh'”
Art inspires. Art makes us think. Art combines disparate ideas and smashes them together for juxtapositional chaos and levity.
The same experiment we pointed to in Tip #1 (Knight & Haslam) found that people working in enriched spaces (decorated with art or plants) were 17% more productive than those in lean spaces.
In a survey of more than 800 employees working for 32 companies throughout the U.S. that have workplace art collections, it found that art in the workplace helps businesses address key challenges such as reducing stress (78% agree), increasing creativity (64% agreed) and encouraging expression of opinions (77% agreed). (Forbes)
Even if you don’t have much art to hang around the home office, color can have a HUGE affect on your daily creativity and mental clarity.
For instance, exposure to both blue and green has been shown to enhance performance on tasks that require generating new ideas. Alternatively, the color red has been linked with superior performance on tasks involving attention to detail.
Another study showed that a dimmer environment fostered superior creativity in terms of idea generation while brighter light levels were more conducive to analytical and evaluative thinking.
4. Get a whiteboard and use it.
“When we write, a unique neural circuit is automatically activated. There is a core recognition of the gesture in the written word, a sort of recognition by mental simulation in your brain, and it seems that this circuit is contributing in unique ways we didn’t realize; learning is made easier,” says psychologist Stanislas Dehaene. In other words, analog writing (and doodling, too) boosts cognitive ability.
Better yet: writing with blue dry erase marker helps boost creativity!
In a study conducted by the University of British Columbia, it was confirmed that the colors red and blue improve brain function. The study found that red helps enhance attention to detail, while blue is best suited to help increase creative thought (but you already knew that from Tip #3).
Having a white board not only boosts the brain, it enhances group discussions, brainstorming, and it enables doodling, which according to recent studies, is a very good thing.
Don’t have space or budget for a full-fledged, wall-size dry erase board? No worries at all when you can turn your wall into a white board!
Head over to Amazon and grab some white board paint below:
5. Nature and light. More is more!
Being in nature allows us to connect with our roots and cultivate a sense of freedom lost inside the four walls of any office. The myriad of objects and patterns found in natural landscapes encourages imaginative play, which is linked to social as well as cognitive development.
According to Stanford researcher Gregory Bratman, “nature scenes activate our parasympathetic nervous system in ways that reduce stress and autonomic arousal, due to our connection to the natural world.” For example, office workers with windows facing natural scenery have reported higher job satisfaction and less workplace frustration.
Just as red and blue affect the way our minds can work, looking at green, leafy scenes helps us de-stress and re-stock our mental energy. A study focusing on inner-city children found that, at least for girls, greener home surroundings correlated with greater impulse control and self-discipline.
No nature to look at? Add a fountain with bubbling water outside your window. Or, get some oxygen generators in the space – even three or four green, leafy plants in your field of view is better than nothing.
Or, head to Amazon and pick up your own nature wallpaper sticker and turn your wall into a forest!
Another home office hack: Use unpainted wood to decorate with. Seeing wood grain while working calms us in the same way that nature views do.
6. Get some toys and allow yourself to play a little.
There are so many reasons why play is important, especially when it comes to an office setting and creativity. It stimulates creativity, relieves stress, and increases productivity, employee retention, and communication.
According to research published in the book “301 Ways to Have Fun at Work,” there is a direct link between the extent to which employees have fun and deliver good customer service, exercise their creativity, provide innovation, and overall get sh*t done.
Author of aforementioned book, Dave Hemsath, also goes on to say that he believes fun may be the single most important trait of a highly effective and successful organization. And just so you know, companies that adopt a playful culture have greater job satisfaction, less down time, and increased employee loyalty.
Simple solutions for fun and play: Place action figures on your desk, buy a Bluetooth helicopter to fly around, or keep a chess set nearby.And the next time you see someone goofing off in a brainstrom session, perhaps you should join them with a game of your own.
Better yet, install a Virtual Reality system, like the Oculus, in your home office and take a trip to Mars for your next client call – or do you prefer the Amazon?