You deserve a chair that doesn’t hurt to sit in and why would you spend all day in a room without enough light for a plant to survive?
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From cluttered desks to uncomfortable keyboards, even the smallest factors can have a big impact on a home office. Studies have repeatedly found that negative office conditions harm concentration, decrease work satisfaction and limit productivity. Fortunately, a few small tweaks can transform a limiting space into an energizing one. Here are a few ideas to spruce up your home office.
Get a better chair.
Nearly two-thirds of adults in America have lower back pain. Although people with persistent lower back pain should see a doctor, most of us can avoid or limit the amount of pain we endure by rethinking how — and where — we sit. If your chair is old or poorly designed, it could be contributing to lower back pain. Any amount of pain is detrimental to productivity, so it’s important to solve this problem quickly. Follow this guide from Spine Health to pick the chair that’s right for you.
No matter how good your chair and posture are, don’t sit all day without breaks. Set a reminder on your phone or computer to stand up, talk a walk and stretch your legs. Not only will these breaks help you return to work with renewed focus, but they will also keep your body healthy.
Let there be light.
The single overhead light from your ceiling fan isn’t enough. To avoid eye strain, implement some bias lighting in your office. If you don’t want to attach lights to the back of your monitor, put a lamp on your desk behind your display. This will brighten the room and help prevent vision fatigue.
Don’t forget about natural light, either. Set up your desk perpendicular to a window so you can let in the sunshine without putting a glare on your screen.
Turn up the music (or off).
Some people prefer to work in total silence. Others like to listen to music as they work. Even if you fall into the first group, you should still account for the impact sound has on your productivity.
If you prefer to work without music, consider adding a source of white noise to your office, such as a fan or noise machine. If you run Spotify throughout your workday, invest in a good pair of noise-canceling headphones. Not only will these improve the sound quality of your favorite playlists, but they will also drown out distracting background noises.
Find your green thumb.
Humans spent thousands of years in nature before we created homes and buildings. Now that we’re inside, we miss the greenery of the outdoors — and our productivity suffers for it.
According to some estimates, adding plants to your office could boost your productivity by up to 15 percent. You don’t need to be a gardener to take care of a couple indoor plants. Succulents require little maintenance and offer the same mental benefits as larger, more demanding plants. If you’re still intimidated, ask your local gardening store for help selecting something that will be hard to kill.
Clean up the clutter.
Some people are naturally messy; that’s OK. However, studies show you become less efficient, more frustrated and less persistent in the face of a challenge when you let that mess take over your workspace.
You don’t have to make your bed every morning, but you should invest a few minutes tidying your workspace so it is free from unnecessary clutter. Look around your station and figure out what you use regularly, then create organized spaces to keep those things. Don’t fight your natural inclinations — if you leave all your pens on your right, set up a pen cup on that side.
Although you shouldn’t eat lunch at your desk, you probably have scraps of paper, drink containers and other bits of trash that accumulate over time. Get a small trash can, and empty it regularly to keep your workspace tidy.
Add a personal touch.
Personal items transform a home office into your home office. Photos of family and friends, mementos from vacations and a few tasteful wall decorations can make a stuffy space more comfortable.
Avoid items that move or make noise, such as digital picture frames or loudly ticking clocks. Those might be fun at first but can easily become distracting or irritating over time. Select static, pleasing additions, then place them in locations where you can see them as you work.
Make your workspace distinct.
No matter how cramped your living arrangement, separate your home office from the rest of the house. Working on the couch might be fun for a few hours, but if you don’t physically separate work from leisure, you will struggle to separate the two mentally as well.
Remove leisure items, such as books and movies, from your work station. If possible, move your desk to a more isolated area of the house. Don’t shove yourself into a closet — remember, natural light and comfort are important, too — but designate an area solely for work.
In the end, your home office should reflect your unique personality. Love plants? Buy many. Prefer to blast the stereo while you work? Turn it up. Your home office is yours, and only you know what’s best for you.
With that said, don’t dismiss potential changes to your environment just because they deviate from your usual setup. Try new things, experiment with different arrangements and tweak your space to find a comfortable balance between professional recommendations and personal style.