The workforce is at home more than ever before. You’re at home more than ever before.
…And the kids too!
All this makes being productive at home a challenge.
When everyone shares the same living and workspace, it’s hard to concentrate and complete a project without disruption.
I found myself using my kitchen table as a place to get work done. Whether it was to pay bills, answer emails, plan my social media or work on my coaching and blog, I was doing it in the center of the action —with kids and pets running around.
I decided to find a way to be more productive at home by creating a home office space.
FIND A SPACE IN YOUR HOME (THAT IS JUST FOR YOU)
This is about setting boundaries y’all.
With three kids, a hubby and two pets at home, boundaries are hard to come by.
Look around your home —find a corner, a closet, an area where a desk will fit, or a reading chair. Don’t be afraid to get creative. Take a closet door off its hinges and create a space that is just for you.
Some husbands have a workbench. Get yourself a ‘workbench’. Even the smallest living spaces have a tiny area you can carve out for yourself.
Having an efficient workspace organized with all your documents, tools or supplies will make it simpler for you to return to your project with ease and focus.
As far as boundaries go, I’ll be training my kids that “this is mommy’s desk, mommy’s area, and nothing’s allowed on my desk unless you ask”. Of course, if they’re making a drawing, I want it on my desk —but do I want ten drawings, empty cups, a deck of flashcards? Maybe not.
It may take some getting used to, but once you start setting boundaries for your personal space, your family will begin to understand and respect your space.
CLEAR A SPACE IN YOUR HOME, AWAY FROM CLUTTER
Interestingly, I already have a workspace —even though I always end up at the kitchen table. It’s kind of like an ‘open-air office’ because it’s in a hallway alcove in my house. It also happens to be the place everyone walks by to get to any room upstairs.
And you know what happened every time a person passed by? They left random stuff (guilty, I did it too) on the desk, on the chair, on the floor, blocking the chair <ackk!>, and soon enough, my workspace became a catch-all.
So when it was time to sit down, focus and get some strategic business planning done, that was the last place I’d go.
Having a decluttered space improves concentration and focus —something my ‘office’ didn’t encourage.
You’re less likely to spend time tidying up before you begin your work, so you can get started right away. You’re also less likely to lose things. I lost things all the time on my messy desk. Bill what bills? —thankfully everything’s online, but still.
Now you can see how I ended up at the kitchen table. Sound familiar?
Organize and categorize your office supplies. Instead of having drawers full of mixed items, buy drawer organizers or get creative and make your own. I’ve seen an old egg carton cut in half longways with the little cups holding paper clips and magnets. Head to the thrift store and buy some unique cups to hold your pens. Purchase cheap storage bins from Home Goods or the dollar store to organize items that can easily store away in an accessible container.
Things like mail, receipts and important papers tend to pile up on desks. Use labeled file folders to help you keep track of your documents and once a week, make it a point to straighten the area.
Add some shelving on the wall space nearby. It’s a great place to stack your planner, decor, picture frames or inspirational pieces. Plus, it’s a perfect space saver.
REFRESH YOUR SPACE
This task doesn’t have to include spending a lot of money —just a little effort instead.
Trust me, when it’s complete, you’ll feel so revitalized. Declutter everything you don’t need in the workspace. If you’re in a closet, move the shoes. Get a shoe rack so they can stack better and be out of view.
And remember… set the boundaries. This is your space. It’s ok to request that people ask before using it.
Refresh your workspace with paint, wall hangings, new lampshade —even a new trashcan can change the look from drab to distinguished.
Add some greenery
There’s something so peaceful about having plants in your home office or workspace. I like succulents (because I kill everything else ha!), but even a hanging plant above your sitting area will add a splash of visual appeal and freshness to the air.
Add a fresh scent to your workspace
A fresh, calming scent to rejuvenate the senses can turn any workspace into a more tranquil one. A diffuser, candle or natural air freshener can help keep your mood calm and your spirits lifted.
Bring in natural light
If you have the opportunity to set up a space near natural light, do so. Natural light improves mood, and mood improves work productivity. Natural light also helps regulate your natural circadian rhythm, which promotes better sleep. If you’re unable to bring the natural light to you, consider taking breaks outside for a mid-day refresher.
BLOCK IT OUT
If you’re unable to close a door to separate you from the rest of the house, use headphones. Noise-canceling headphones work best, but even earbuds do the job. When you’re working, put on some music to help you stay focused on the task at hand.
When you’re ready to take You time, let everyone around know that you prefer not to be disturbed. You may have to train the people in your household, but if you say it enough and kindly stand your ground, they’ll get the hang of it —eventually.
TIME BLOCK YOUR TASKS
A mistake I found myself making was starting and stopping too many tasks. I’d get interrupted —because remember I’m at the kitchen table, and try to start again, never really finishing the job. There was no flow. So instead of trying to fit a lot of to-do’s into small cracks of time, choose one thing you want to accomplish and focus on it.
I’ve been setting a timer on my phone to dedicate a certain amount of time to each task.
Ahem, another boundary moment. Mommy (girlfriend, sister, grandma) needs 25 minutes to finish this task —please do not disturb. Then you can go workout, finish that painting or craft and come return with your full attention.
I’m completing a home office reno to follow my own advice. I’d love to hear it. Are you ready to carve out personal space for yourself in your home? Let me know in the comments.