You should work in a place where you can focus with a minimum of disruption. This might be a separate room dedicated for work, or part of a room where you’ll have privacy during your working hours. Regardless of where you choose to work, take the time to make the space your own. You’ll be spending a lot of time there! It’s fun to think about what you need for your space and having the flexibility to design around it.
Your door is the first line of defense against disruptions. You might love to keep your door open to keep air circulating and have a more open feel. However, it can be easily closed when you really need to focus or make an important phone call. A closed door is a great signal to the rest of the house that you’re busy. If you have small kids, it might be fun to involve them in helping make a sign for the door that says if you’re available or busy. It can be like a door knob hanger that hotels have. If they are involved in making it, they’ll probably be more likely to understand its meaning!
It’s nice to have a window. Not only is the natural light a mood lifter, it feels good to look out on the world during your work day. Depending on the time of year, you’ll also need good lighting in your work space. In the depths of winter you’ll likely start your day just as the sun is coming up, and it’ll get dark around 4 p.m. Make sure you have a good desk lamp for task lighting and some nice general lighting for the room.
Desk or Table
There are so many options for work surfaces, and the “right” choice can be so subjective. Traditional desks and tables are simple to try out, but some office workers also opt for standing desks and treadmill desks. Several #remotechat participants use treadmill desks, which are slow-moving treadmills with a desktop at the proper height. Sellers of treadmill desks talk about the benefits of improved mood and stress reduction, not discounting the additional calories burned throughout the day.
Like your work surface, your chair is such a personal choice. The choices are a bit boggling: a simple no-frills chair, office chair, executive chair, Aeron chair, inflatable ball, kneeling chair, reclining chair, saddle chair … and myriad others. The important point is to have a comfortable seat that gives you good support and promotes good posture. Do some research about ergonomics and posture, since there is an ideal relationship of your back and arms to your desk.
Of the ironies you encounter while traveling, a bland office may be one that sticks out. Executives spend days in their offices with cookie-cutter desks and credenzas. These bland pieces of furniture are adorned with the sparest of personal touches, perhaps a personal photo propped up next to the phone. The walls are painted eggshell white and the only thing adorning the bookshelf is a topical reference book and some achievement-related tchotchkes.
There’s so much you can do to make a space “yours” regardless of whether it’s at home or in the office. Start with color on the walls. You can paint colors that you enjoy and hang up posters, maps, photos or designs that are meaningful and inspirational to you. Movie posters are easy to come by and desk-sized characters from Funko Pop are super fun. Add some plants (don’t forget to water them) for some extra texture and color. Put books that you love to read and re-read on your bookshelf. Orient the more inspirational ones with the cover facing out. Lastly, if you enjoy ambient sounds while you work, apps like brain.fm, Noisli and Coffitivity can provide that last bit of texture in the form of audio.
Now that you have all of that set up, you’ll be nowhere if you don’t think about the impact of distractions on your productivity. Having all of your work and play on one computer or device can be difficult, as it’s so easy to switch back and forth between leisure and work tasks. If you can, separate work and play. During the day, you can sleep your personal computer so you’re not distracted by the alerts and notifications that pop up. During evenings and weekends, your work machine can sleep and you won’t be tempted to wake it up and check work email. You might find that it works well to change your location based on the task, too. Have options for places to go and a routine for what you do when you’re there. This will help reinforce good productivity habits and minimize the chance you’ll get derailed by distractions.