It’s not a secret that working from home has been gaining more and more popularity during recent years, especially throughout the infamous 2020 when the pandemic forced us all to stay inside and self-isolate. Since then remote work has been elevated to another level and gained a whole new meaning.
Suddenly, our versatile professional lifestyle, including commuting to the office, having face-to-face contact with colleagues from work, attending team meetings, conferences, etc., was compressed to the four walls of our houses, a computer, and Zoom fatigue.
Undoubtedly, working from home is a luxury: we don’t waste time on the commute, we can sleep a little bit longer, we might feel more comfortable in our safe space in sweatpants instead of obeying a strict dress code, and so on.
Nevertheless, it all came with its own price. It can be hard to stay self-disciplined, resist taking a nap, lingering at the lunch break, bringing your laptop to the bed, etc. Adapting to this reality is undoubtedly a challenge for many reasons, whether you’re a remote work lover or hater. After all, not many of us are used to this lifestyle.
That is why, as an online freelance writer working remotely, I’m super excited to share a bit of my world, give you some useful tips and hopefully inspire you to upgrade your home office area in the way that best suits your needs. I believe that setting up the optimal working space is a game-changer as it can boost your motivation, focus, productivity, creativity, and more!
“A person becomes part of their surroundings.”– Christie Watson
Let’s jump straight into it!
8 Actually Helpful Tips To Upgrade Your Home Office
1. Have a designated work area:
Let’s start with the basics. Working and living in the same area can get tricky at times.
After all, how nice it is to just grab your laptop and stay in bed a bit longer?
How comfortable it is to have a late breakfast and work from your kitchen table?
We all know how easy it is to slip into bad habits and how difficult it might be to get back on track. For your mental and physical wellbeing as well as your productivity, motivation, and focus, it’s crucial that you keep your work area separate from your living area. That is why the number one thing to consider when you want to create or upgrade your home office is to assign a specific spot for it.
Instead of having your working materials scattered all over the place, your bed slowly becoming a command center, and your private life merging with a professional one, you can set a healthy boundary and some ground rules.
The ideal situation would be having a separate room for your home office; however, that’s not always possible. If your place is not big enough to do that, choose a calm spot, a corner away from central areas, and dedicate it to work purposes only.
Your brain then will associate that specific spot with work and everything connected to it. Try it out for yourself, and just observe how significantly it can boost your productivity, focus, motivation, and overall mood. Also, once you’re done with your work for the day, you can leave it all in that spot and not utilize it until the next day, just like in a regular office.
How great is that?
2. Keep your space well-lit:
I encourage you to put some thought into choosing the location of your home office. Don’t pick just any spot at random. If you can set up your space next to a source of natural light – do it! Having a window in your working area is great. It adds a feeling of spaciousness, and it keeps the area well-lit. Oh, not to mention that maybe some of you are probably lucky enough to have a beautiful view of trees, which, in case you didn’t know, can increase your overall wellbeing.
Taking care of proper lighting is especially important after sunset. During these dark winter days, it’s easy to forget that. Don’t let your computer be the primary source of light as it can seriously deteriorate the quality of your work by:
- damaging your eyesight
- causing headaches
- tiring you out
- blurring your vision
- A simple solution is setting up a desk lamp with warm light – I recommend checking out this LED one. You can adjust its shape as well as choose colors and the intensity of light. Additionally, it has a phone holder, and it’s cordless, which is great for not getting lost in the jungle of cables and keeping your surface neatly organized.
- Now it’s time for a fun upgrade to your home office – a color-changing lightbulb! I personally use this one, and it’s a real game-changer. You connect your phone to it through wifi and choose colors on the app, with the option of saving your favorite ones. Depending on the time of the day, the kind of project I’m working on (creative, a bit boring, challenging,) and even my mood, I use different light colors, and I’m not ever going back!
3. Ergonomic solutions:
Once you’ve chosen your designated work area that is relatively calm and well-lit, it’s time to consider how to support your health. So often, we ignore signals that our body is sending us, only to actually act on it after it’s too late and we’re suffering from lower back pain, strained wrists, and so on. We all know it from experience – when we fall sick, it affects the quality of everything else.
Taking the best care we can of our physical health is absolutely essential to avoid pain and keep all the productive and creative juices flowing. We, humans, were never destined to work long hours in front of computers; ergo, our bodies are not made for it. I’m sure we all know it, yet how often are you hunched over your laptop, craning your neck like a giraffe and squinting your eyes?
- We’ve all heard that it’s good to get up once in a while and stretch out our limbs when working. With a standing desk, that’s no longer an issue. Give your spine a rest, and facilitate your blood flow with an electric desk like this one. It adds variety to your workday, and the big desktop provides a large surface to work on without being constrained.
- If you’re on a budget: buy a desk converter! Your neck and back will thank you for this. Bring your computer to the level of your eyes and enjoy working in a healthy, comfortable position.
- A good ergonomic chair is a must. And I wouldn’t go for the cheapest option available. Seriously, it’s an investment in your overall health. It goes way beyond just having something to sit on. Look for an adjustable chair with lumbar support and armrests. Here’s a great one of high quality, and as a bonus, you get a lifetime warranty on it!
- Last but not least: remember to stretch all the stiffness out. The proper furniture is a great way to upgrade your home office; however, it cannot fully replace moving our bodies. Have a yoga mat waiting for you in the corner, and have a little stretching session whenever you feel like it. Make a pleasant ritual out of it at the end of the workday or during a break in between meetings. As a yoga lover, I tested out Manduka yoga mats, and I can honestly recommend this specific one. The grip of the mat is excellent. It folds easily and is incredibly durable (I used it while traveling for a year throughout Europe). Aaaand the cherry on top is the fact that it’s made out of 100% biodegradable, natural tree rubber!
4. Nourish your body:
One of the not-so-obvious ways to upgrade your home office is to include means to nourish your body the best you can. We are often caught up in our work, with back-to-back meetings, barely having time to eat a proper meal. The idea of cooking a dish at home is simply not realistic.
- That’s why I encourage you to cook meals in batches and have them prepped beforehand. In this way, you can just heat them up and enjoy a nice, tasty moment. Another idea is to learn a couple of quick recipes and have the ingredients stocked up in the kitchen. However, sometimes even that is not an option. As a last resource, have a healthy snack at your arm’s reach, such as these organic protein bars.
- What I’m guilty of so often is forgetting to drink enough water. It feels like a tedious chore to me, honestly. It also just slips my mind, and I’m reminded of it when I feel dizzy, weak, or have a splitting headache. A great way to avoid this undesired situation is to have a reminder of hydrating at all times. Looking for ways to solve that issue, I stumbled upon this 1-gallon water bottle with markings on it, measuring the optimal daily water intake. If this ain’t a great way to keep us on track of ideal hydration, then I don’t know what is!
5. Manage the noise:
We are all different when it comes to noise when working. Some of us can get easily distracted by just about anything, while others can focus at ease even when they’re surrounded by loud music or people talking to one another. Finding your optimal noise level is the key here.
- If absolute silence is disturbing to you, consider investing in a good, wireless Bluetooth speaker (here’s one that I use and love). Put on some ambient music, calming lo-fi playlist, or nature sounds – something to play in the background without garnering your attention.
- Living with flatmates/family members can surely get distracting at times. Don’t let that shatter your focus. Instead, treat yourself to a pair of noise cancellation headphones like these ones and enjoy seamless workflow from now on!
(P.S. Learn more on the topic of achieving flow state while working here.)
6. Keep it fresh:
When working in a big office building, almost no one thinks about the air quality they breathe in. However, when it’s your home, the circumstances are different. It’s not only a smaller space but also a more controlled environment, so use it to your advantage! An obvious solution is to systematically air out your working area. However, we’re here to discuss how to level up and upgrade your home office even more.
- If you live in a city, the air quality is far worse than in the middle of the forest. Consider protecting your lungs and investing in an air purifier. After doing a little research on Wirecutter, I decided to buy the Levoit air purifier and it improved my life significantly! I was super shocked to see with my own eyes how much dust it collects from my apartment. Not only that, but it also minimizes odor and captures smoke. It’s a great addition, especially if you have any allergies since it also collects pollen.
- I invite you to give your home office a signature scent! It’s such a simple yet effective idea. Because of the olfactory bulb in our brains, specific smells have the power to impact our moods. Get yourself a little essential oil diffuser such as this one (also recommended by Wirecutter) and, depending on your needs, evoke a desired state:
pick peppermint to feel refreshed
try out lavender to relax
improve your focus with a citrus scent
elevate your overall mood with a spicy scent such as cinnamon
7. Be comfortable but not too relaxed:
Ok, I need you to focus your attention here: there’s a difference between feeling comfortable and relaxed.
Upgrade your home office by creating a sense of balance between the two. Aim to fall somewhere between the typical rigid professional environment and the chill, laid back homey atmosphere.
If working remotely is such a great idea, why isn’t everyone doing it?
I think it’s because we’ve been bred on the idea that work happens from 9 to 5, in offices and cubicles.
It’s no wonder that most who are employed inside that model haven’t considered other options or resist the idea that it could be any different.
But it can.
– Jason Fried
Personally, I experienced a similar thing while learning to meditate: the optimal state is reached at the crossroads of being comfortable and focused on the present moment without drifting away in my thoughts. It’s a tricky thing to do, and it often requires some adjustments so treat yourself with kindness here.
Use the fact that you’re at home to your advantage. Here are some examples to illustrate my point:
- Keep it professional:
- Buy yourself a desk mat. In this way, you officially will have a designated work area, giving it a slightly professional look. No going to bed with your computer now – its place clearly belongs elsewhere!
- Don’t let your working surface become cluttered! Piles of documents, cables, or other junk will also occupy your mental space, lowering productivity. Upgrade your home office by:
- Make it homey:
- Instead of having a boring keyboard, treat yourself to a wireless, funky alternative like this one. Nobody will give you strange looks. You’re in your own home after all!
- Maybe you could even go a little bit crazy and customize it with a fun keycap resin. Who knew typing an email could be so much fun?
- Keep a fuzzy blanket near you in case you’d like to feel warm and cozy while still staying busy as a bee.
8. Evoke your inner interior designer:
Your home office doesn’t have to be a dreaded workplace. You can liven it up by making it aesthetically pleasing! Here’s a link to our Pinterest board – feel free to take some inspiration from it!
As I mentioned earlier, just sitting nearby some trees can elevate your mood. Upgrade your home office by buying some potted plants and making it a greener place. If taking care of plants is not your strong side, worry not.
Here are some additional suggestions:
- Consider buying a fake plant that will stay green forever! Here’s our favorite pick.
- Liven up the walls of your home office by hanging some graphics of plants, like these ones.
- If you couldn’t be bothered to do any handiwork or you simply rent a place, and you have to keep the walls intact, here’s a beautiful alternative: palm leaf wall stickers!
Final Words Before You Upgrade Your Home Office
“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is,
maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.”
– Seth Godin
Working remotely has been gaining popularity throughout recent years, regardless of the pandemic. These are the times we live in, and they won’t be changing anytime soon. Most likely, you will spend many hours each week working like that, so it’s worth investing your time, energy, and thoughts in designing and improving your working area.
I invite you to create a space in your homes that can evoke good vibes, motivate you to be productive, and put you in an inspiring state of mind. Feel free to upgrade your home office, make it optimal for your needs and see how exciting carrying out this project can be!