Do you work from home? You're not alone. Research published just last year found that 45 percent of U.S. employees work from home and 53 million people work as freelancers, contributing $715 billion to the entire economy. Wow! With the traditional 9-5 becoming a thing of the past, home working and flexible work schedules are the new norm.
But if you're finding it hard to stay motivated and get things done when you're in your home office, don't panic. Today, I'm here to discuss five of the best ways to create a truly productive home working space – with a little help from Courtney Lake, interior design expert at Pottery Barn.
1. Be Regimented
Do you wake up at 10 A.M., have a bath, put the radio on, make coffee, and finally log on to your computer at 11:35? We've probably all been guilty of it, but is it the best way to be productive? Probably not.
One really great way to keep on top of things when you're working from home is to be organized and regimented. Treat it like you would a job – plot your day out from start to finish and track your progress as you go along. Of course, that's not to say you shouldn't have the odd day where you let things slide a little; just don't let it become a habit.
2. Invest in Comfort
For Lake, stylish, functional home office furniture is really important.
"Your furniture needs to look good and feel good," he says. "While aesthetically-pleasing furniture might seem a nice-to-have, it can actually really help in making you feel more engaged and driven."
Pottery Barn has created an interactive resource all about how to work from home productively. It can be a great tool for upping your home office game.
"Working well depends, first and foremost, on how and where you sit," Lake adds. "Find a spot with plenty of natural light, as well as a clear and level work surface that allows you to keep your forearms level and your feet on the ground. Choose a chair that gives your back firm and comfortable support. It's all about making your desk a pleasant place to be."
[caption id="attachment_89371" align="aligncenter" width="650"] From Pottery Barn's interactive tool[/caption]
3. Declutter, Declutter, Declutter – Then Declutter Some More
If, at the end of a long day working from home, your desk is piled high with sandwich wrappers, coffee cups, long-completed to-do lists, and copies of last month's Newsweek, then perhaps it's time for a change. Physical and digital clutter merely serves to clog our minds and make us feel stressed, hurried, and not on top of things. Decluttering regularly – that is, tidying your working space and keeping your inbox clean and streamlined – helps you stay fresh and focused.
"Make sure to set a specific declutter time," Lake says. "Once a week or once a day, whatever suits you best. Do it as quickly as you can and keep on top of it – that way, you'll never have the problem of a messy desk and you can work in a much more productive fashion."
[caption id="attachment_89373" align="aligncenter" width="650"] From Pottery Barn's interactive tool[/caption]
4. Place a Big Divider Between Work and Personal Life
One of the biggest barriers to productive home working is when we fail to separate the personal from the professional. Blending your personal life with your working one rarely makes for a happy marriage. Keeping them separate, with perhaps a little mixing here and there, is a far better solution. Remove any unnecessary distractions like DVDs and game consoles from your home office, and only go into your home office for work.
5. Get Dressed Properly!
Well, we've all had days where we slouch out of bed and log on to our laptops in our PJs. But doing this every day isn't a good idea. It'll probably only make you feel sluggish and lazy, which will have a significant knock on your productivity. Get up and prepare yourself for the day ahead. This means mental preparation, but also physical: Actually wear proper work clothes. It'll instantly make you feel more professional and will really help you get things done.
Do you work from home? Tell us your tips and tricks for working from home productively!
Irma Hunkeler works for BlueGlass.co.uk, a digital marketing agency.