When it comes to remote working, you might prefer to work from home despite the many distractions that can await you there. From chores you missed the day before to children who may be running around, it can be hard to ignore your environment and focus on the work in front of you. One way to combat this desire to attend to other things in your home is to ensure your workspace is designed to be quiet and productive. The following seven tips can help you carve out a space in your home that will minimize distractions and maximize productivity.
1.) Find an underused space
Is there an area in your home that does not get utilized much? Does it have lower foot traffic? Is it located in a space your family probably wouldn’t think to find you? If so, this is probably the perfect spot to set up your work from home area!
Finding a space that does not already have a purpose prevents you from having to shift things around and move what already exists to make a home office work. Instead, you can set up a desk in that unused hallway or add a lamp to that random coat closet.
Don’t forget about spaces that could be hiding in plain sight! Does your guest bedroom really have that many guests? Could you add a small workspace near the front door? This underused space will be especially helpful if it is a space your other household members would not think to find you. Lower foot traffic means more peace and quiet.
2.) Don’t make it too quiet
Have you ever become hyperaware of how quiet a space is? Silence can be as distracting as a loud noise, which is counterproductive to creating a focused creative space.
According to architect Donald Rattner, the sweet spot for noise is about 70 decibels, as loud as a vacuum cleaner. Instead of running your vacuum all day, try listening to instrumental music or white noise while working. This should give you just enough auditorial stimulation to focus but not enough to be a distraction. Aim for subtle background noise. But don’t pick music with lyrics because wanting to sing along with the words or focus on their message can be a hindrance to productivity.
3.) Work near a window
This might seem counterintuitive with the noise factor, but if you can place your work-from-home office near a window that does not overlook a busy street, this can help boost productivity. A window is optimal for creating a serene and relaxing environment. Natural light is one of the five basic requirements for working well according to cognitive scientist Anja Jamrozik.
Windows also give the opportunity to look away from the computer screen for a bit and give your eyes a break from that blue light. WebMD suggests looking away from the screen every 20 minutes or so and focusing on something approximately 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This break can help prevent the eye strain, blurry vision and headaches associated with staring at the computer for too long.
4.) Do not work in your bedroom
While it is a room with a door and may be quieter than the rest of your house, try not to work from your bedroom.
In the same way that research says not to do work in bed, setting up your workspace in your bedroom can have similar effects. When you work from bed, your brain then has a hard time relaxing because it associates your bed with work instead of sleep.
In the same way, your bedroom is no longer associated with relaxation and downtime when it also serves as your office. Having a separate workspace is vital to maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
5.) Set boundaries
In addition to physical boundaries, such as a door or a line of tape that members of your household should not cross unless it is an emergency, be sure to set other boundaries that will clearly separate your work life from your home life.
Don’t let your bills get mixed up with office paperwork.
Stick to a schedule and stop working when quitting time hits. It can be tempting to finish a task because you’re right there, but fight this urge and give yourself and other members of your household the time they deserve.
6.) Create a routine
Similar to setting boundaries, creating a routine like one you’d have at an office will help you stay on task and keep work during business hours.
- Have a set lunch hour.
- Don’t handle personal matters during work time.
- Wear something other than your pajamas.
- But also build in breaks.
When in an office, a coworker may stop by to say hello or you might get up to refill your coffee and chat with whoever is in the kitchen. These natural moments of break can be recreated in home by building a few short breaks into your routine.
Perhaps you take your dog for a 15 minute walk mid-morning and mid-afternoon.
Maybe you brew a new pot of coffee and take a short wellness break to do some yoga.
Having breaks in your routine is important to maintaining good mental health.
7.) Keep certain areas off-limits
Physical limits help set mental limits, so consider preventing yourself from going into personal areas during the work day and your workspace after business hours. Someone who lives in a studio apartment may want to refrain from touching their bed at all. Your kitchen may need to be off limits unless it is specifically your lunch hour. You should leave your workspace alone once business hours are over. Keeping these areas off limits at certain times will help you build mental barriers to distractions and aid in keeping your work-life balance healthy.
If work-from-home isn’t working for you or if you need a break from your space every once in awhile, consider coworking, an alternative option that offers flexibility to remote workers with the amenities of an office. It consists of a shared space, often with communal equipment, where individuals work independently but build a community of shared ideas and knowledge.
If you want to learn more about coworking or want to check out a space yourself, contact Brix Coworking, a company with two coworking locations in Madison, Wisconsin. Brix provides affordable coworking and workspace solutions for small businesses, remote workers, entrepreneurs, freelancers and musicians.
Connect with Brix Coworking today to schedule a tour and get more information.