Nathan Parcells is an editor for InsiderEnvy, a leading lifestyle site for young professionals. Nathan lives in San Francisco. Outside of work, he enjoys hiking, rock climbing, and exploring the bay.
The working world is changing. A recent NPR/Marist poll determined that within a decade 50% of the US workforce could be contractors. With more and more people choosing to work from home or work remotely, it’s time to talk about how to create a workspace that fosters productivity and helps you thrive.
Here are 5 changes you can make to your home to turn it into a productivity haven.
1. Introduce plants, scents, and more
Plants are one of nature’s many wonders, that no human technology can replace. Plants clean the air, while introducing a sense of calm to your work environment. In fact, a study completed in Sydney, Australia, found that workplaces that added plants to their office experienced a 38% drop in tension and an over 50% drop in depression.
In addition to plants, you should consider adding candles, air purifiers and other fragrances to your home workspace. While items like candles are typically not allowed in a large work environment (because your favourite smell might not be your neighbours) when you work from home you can customise your space to what works for you, so don’t hold back.
2. Buy an ergonomic chair (and desk)
Make this one a priority. A comfortable chair can literally make or break your back. Science has proven that sitting in a chair that negatively affects your posture causes long-term damage to your body’s skeletal and muscular structure. While a good chair is expensive, this post from GearPatrol ranks provides a list chairs that won’t ruin your back or your wallet.
In addition to a good chair, another option to consider is to get a standing desk. Standing is a fantastic way to maintain a healthy posture during a long workday. If you want to try before you buy, there are a few simple solutions to start standing now. These include using a shoebox to prop up your computer and keyboard as well as the more sophisticated solutions recommended here.
3. Protect your eyes
After our backs, the second biggest victim from today’s work environment is our eyes. In fact, this issue has become so bad, that we are experiencing a worldwide nearsightedness boom that most researchers only think will get worse in the coming years. So how do you address this in your home office?
First, you should explore buying UV blocking contacts or blue blocking glasses to help reduce the impact of screen glare on your eyes. Second, if you wear contacts, you should make sure you are cleaning them on a regular cadence or using a daily disposable contact to reduce protein build up. Lastly, we recommend doing ‘eye exercises’ throughout the day to keep you and your eyes fresh.
4. Find your calm with a zafu
We all need to take breaks throughout the day. When you’re in the office you can always walk over to a co-worker’s desk, pretend to talk about work, but then enjoy a nice break, chopping up your favourite TV show. When working from home, taking a break isn’t as easy and browsing the internet, is not nearly as productive as connecting with a peer.
One healthy item to add to your home workspace is a meditation corner replete with a Zafu pillow. Learning to meditate takes practices, which is why it’s helpful to invest in an area of your house/office where you can focus on your practice away from the temptations of computers and phones.
5. Go back to pen and paper for note-taking.
While there are a seemingly endless number of apps out there for taking notes on your phone, many people prefer sticking to pen and paper—and for good reason. We develop habits on our phone from checking email to checking the news, all of which can be distracting when taking or reviewing notes. Even though you might feel like a Luddite, oftentimes, you are able to focus better when you remove technology from your life rather than add it.
The five tips above are just the beginning. Do you have any other helpful tips for maintaining a productive home office? If so, please send them in the comment section below.