When it comes to working from home (something a lot more of us are doing lately), having a home office in which you enjoy spending can make all the difference. Let’s face it: Zooming your co-workers from bed seems like a dream, but in reality it’s a boundary dissolving nightmare. Eventually your brain will forget that your bed is a safe, stress-free zone, and you’ll start composing passive aggressive emails in your sleep.
Better to keep your work life in its own space. Preferably that space is an enclosed, private spot with nice lighting, comfortable seating, and generally calm vibes. But not everyone can afford the luxury of a dedicated work space in their home.
The following tips will help you turn any space into a productive, functional work space—whether it’s enclosed or not.
5 tips for creating a home office you actually want to work in
Choose a distinct space
It can be challenging to keep clear boundaries between work and your personal life when you’re working from home.
In order to keep those boundaries strong, it’s ideal to dedicate one room of your home to work only. That way your brain will learn that—like your real life office—it’s time to work when you enter this space.
If you don’t have an extra room in your house, that’s ok. Try setting up the same piece of art or plant or trinket wherever you’re working at the start of each day to signify to your brain that you’re working.
Same goes for the end of the day. Remove the trinket in order to tell your brain that the workday is over.
Adjust the lighting
One of the benefits of working from home is that you’re no longer beholden to your office’s energy-sapping fluorescent lights.
Try to take advantage of as much natural daylight as possible. Your days will feel less like a vortex of meetings and emails if you can look outside and note the weather or angle of the sun. Plus, vitamin D is a great mood booster.
Install some blinds or curtains to reduce glare from your computer screen on sunny days.
And if you’re not close to a window, find a fun lamp with at least 60W (but no more than 100W) that gives you a soft glow-up for Zoom calls.
Splurge on ergonomics
This one explains itself. Working in front of a computer all day is bad for your body. And a body that’s free of back pain for as long as possible is priceless. Here are three quick things you can do to ergonomically-optimize your workspace:
- Screen height: keep your posture neutral by keeping your monitor at eye level, whether you’re sitting or standing. Position it at least 20 inches from your eyes (about an arm’s length).
- Chair: Get an adjustable chair that supports your back and arms, allows your feet to touch the ground, and helps you maintain a neutral posture. It doesn’t have to be expensive, as long as it does these three things.
- Support your wrists: Get a wrist rest, which can help you avoid carpal tunnel syndrome from typing all day.
Surround yourself with inspiration
Now here’s the fun part.
How long has it been since you created a vision board? 25 years? Us too.
Use the walls of your office as a space to remind yourself of the things that make you happy in life—and the things you aspire to achieve. That means decorating it with the same abandon you decorated your teenage bedroom with, but with paint-safe tape and less pictures of Leonardo Dicaprio.
Whether it’s beautiful art, framed records of your achievements, photographs of vacations, family members, or people you admire, make sure there’s something nice to catch your eye and remind you why you do what you do when you look up from your 99th email of the day.
Don’t forget about scent
Smell has a powerful impact on our moods. Liven up your home office with a few fresh houseplants that double as air filters and natural humidifiers.
For extra effect, try an essential oil diffuser and let a little aromatherapy into your life. Now that you don’t have to worry about Cheryl from HR getting a headache, you can make your room smell like whatever you want.
Here are a few guidelines for the relationship between scents and mood:
- Lemon is thought to promote concentration
- Lavender has calming and stress-relieving properties
- Rosemary is stimulating and can help fight mental fatigue
- Peppermint is an energy-booster and is believed to promote clear thinking (besides clearing the nasal passages).
Now that you’re armed with these essential home office design tips, go forth a build yourself a space you enjoy spending time in — even if you’re stressed about work.