Your ally in the battle to maintain productivity and health while working from
home, is your home office. While you might be limited for space, if there is
any way possible, then you should design a home office that will be
separate from the rest of your home.
This is important, because it will allow you to step in and out of your “work
mode.” The worst thing you can do, is to work in the room you sleep in.
This will make it much harder to separate your working life from your
downtime, which will have deleterious impacts on your sleep.
There are other things you can do to make an ideal home office for
One powerful tip, is to surround your office with things that inspire you and
that put you in the mood to be productive. These might be examples of the
best work in your niche or industry, or pictures of your heroes and people
who inspire you.
This is something that Cal Newport talks about in his book Deep Work
(which I’ve referenced before). Here, he talks about the idea of the
“Eudaimonia Machine” – a space built by architects with the singular
purpose of generating the most productivity possible.
Part of this design involves museums filled with inspirational works. This is
something that I feel very strongly about and believe can make a huge
difference to overall productivity.
This is linked to the psychological concept of “priming.” Priming essentially
means putting someone in the frame of mind most conducive to whatever task comes next and it has been linked with memory. So for instance, if you want to “prime” someone to give positive responses to a question, you might spend twenty minutes complimenting them and giving them chocolate to put them in a good mood. If you want to influence someone’s answers to an inkblot test, you might put them in a room with lots of fruit. This room is supposed to have the same effect, but instead it will put you in the mood to get productive work done.
One of the most important things to do if you want to make your office as
productive as possible, is to keep it organized and tidy. Your office space is
an outward reflection of your mental state, and if it becomes disorganized
and untidy, it will make it harder for you to focus on work.
Adopting a minimal décor is one excellent way to this. The fewer items you
have, the less dusting and organization there is to do. At the same time,
this will automatically increase the average quality and value of the items
you do keep on display!
Another tip is to create systems for keeping things organized. A paper tray
system can be very effective for instance when it comes to keeping papers
organized, and going paperless is also a very good idea!
Faces and Plants
There are several studies that suggest that humans are supposed to live in
small groups or tribes, and that this is the way our brains have evolved. We
therefore struggle when we don’t get that stimulation, and our
neurochemistry is less conducive to happiness and productivity.
But you can “hack” this process as simply as putting a picture with your
loved ones on your desk. That’s all it takes to put you in a more productive
and positive mindset when starting your day.
Likewise, adding a plant to your desk can be a very effective way to boost
your mood. This works because it brings a bit of the outdoors in, which
once again has an impact on our mental state due to our psychological
evolution. We still associate plants and greenery with areas of natural
abundance. Thus, they stimulate the production of serotonin and other feel
good hormones, which have actually been shown to combat stress and
even make us more productive!