Maybe you’re working from home doing freelance work, or you started your own business and don’t have an office space. Perhaps you’ve been working remotely for a company, so you spend a lot of time in your living room. In any case, no matter how hard you attempt to keep a productive home office, it can be hard to stay focused at home with the distraction of your comfortable bed, TV and Netflix, and various gadgets so easily accessible.
Use these tips and tools to stay productive at home in the face of adversity (like that mid-morning nap that keeps calling your name):
Organization tips for a productive home office space:
Create a space for work—and only work
Don’t mix your work space with your personal space. Similar to advice that suggests that you only use your bed for sleeping, you should have an area in your house that you only use for working.
Whether it be a closed-off room or a desk in the corner of your small studio, when you go there, your mind will build an association between that space and your work. Just sitting at your work-only desk will begin to trigger your working mindset, so getting in the zone will be easier.
Organize your space in an aesthetically-pleasing way
Set up a space you enjoy. You shouldn’t be in a cave of darkness and gloom (unless you like darkness and gloom — no judgement). Create a home office that makes you feel happy and comfortable when you enter; it doesn’t have to fit any mold.
Studies show that messy desks can inspire better work and creativity, whereas some people can’t focus unless everything is in its proper place. Think about what atmosphere makes you feel most productive, and then maintain this environment for your space.
Turn your wall into a dry-erase board
Save a few trees and turn your office wall into a piece of paper. You can find large whiteboards online to hang on your wall, or buy something like IdeaPaint to turn your entire wall into a dry-erase board with special clear or white paint.
Get a practical desk and comfortable chair
You might try to shrug off your desk set-up as “be what it may,” but this will be where you spend the majority of your time. Find a comfortable chair, and decide what kind of tabletop space you need.
“Practical” means sensible for you. How will you be working? Do you want a standing desk? A desk with a dry-erase top for scrawling ideas on? A small desk that only fits your laptop? A large desk to hold three monitors?
Invest in portable everything
In case you do need a change of scenery, use tools with mobile apps, and buy yourself a portable charger, mobile hotspot, light tablet, wireless keyboard, wireless mouse—whatever you need to spend a day in the park (or a friend’s kitchen) and still get work done.
Tools and apps for a productive home office:
A communication app
If you have team members to keep in contact with throughout the day, make sure you’re all using the same communication tool to facilitate group chats. Popular choices include Skype, HipChat, and Google Hangouts.
A cloud-based document manager
Storing all your files in the cloud means that when your computer crashes, you don’t lose your important files. And if you want to pull up a file while you’re away from your office, you can always access it via mobile apps or the browser on a different computer. Google Drive, Dropbox, and Box are our suggested easy-to-use document management tools.
A collaboration and project management app
With the evolution of the way we work, project management apps are becoming more popular—and more necessary—to remotely share work with colleagues or clients, and keep everyone in the loop on task progress without drowning in emails. Tools like Wrike allow you to share work, leave comments, attach important files, and more, so that you can work from anywhere and still directly collaborate with your teammates.
A cheaper PDF reader
When you have a home office, you’ll probably spend time exchanging PDF files with clients and colleagues. Adobe Reader is expensive when you’re on a tight budget, but free apps like FoxIt Reader also allow you to create and edit PDFs.
A website management tool
This is important if you own your own business. With the creation of tools like WordPress and Wix, you no longer need to outsource your website design. Use these tools to build and completely customize your website just the way you like it, and then you’ll have more control over changing it in the future.
A remote desktop access app
Suddenly need that file that you saved on your desktop, but you’re nowhere near your home computer? First off, start storing your files in your cloud document storage or project management app! But if you do run into a situation where you need to remotely access your computer, apps like TeamViewer can give you remote access and control of your desktop from another computer.
A gadget that tells you how to improve your space
The only physical object on this list: Cubesensors are the child of the intelligent “internet of things” movement. Buy a cubesensor to set next to you while you work, and it will tell you if your room is too cold, too loud, too dark, and more. These are common problems that interfere with our ability to focus, so knowing more about your surroundings (and adjusting accordingly) could help increase your productivity.
What tools and tips make your home office more productive?
These are just our suggestions, but we’re sure you ”hoffice” workers have your own advice. What can you share with other readers to make their time working from home a little more productive?