For the first time in an entire year, I was in my home office alone without having kids in school in other parts of the house this week.  If you have been a reader of this blog in the past ten years, you will also notice that my productivity went way down during COVID.  I had a lot on my plate. 

I was also used to working in my home office, whereas many of you had to shift to the home office for the first time.

The remote work setup brought about by COVID-19 may have seemed glamorous at first, eliminating things like exhausting commutes to the office. However, the World Economic Forum reports that there are still apprehensions about productivity because of the shift. So due to the current climate, it’s crucial to re-evaluate and rearrange your makeshift office at home to ensure productivity. Here are a few ways you can do just that:

tidy and neat workspace

Declutter your home

Living amongst clutter impedes your cognitive abilities and has an impact on your mental health. A fast-paced culture of consumerism has only added to this problem. So it’s no surprise that Marie Kondo and her tidying methods have spiked in popularity over the last few years.

The organizing consultant’s patented “KonMari” technique encourages people to do away with items that no longer “spark joy” in their lives. While this may mean different things to different people, the underlying premise stays the same: decluttering your space — whether that’s your pantry or your work desk — spills over to other aspects of your life and can eventually lead to more productivity.

Separate work from living spaces

There are few things worse than being reminded of work as you’re unwinding for the day. But it’s a challenge to apply “out of sight, out of mind” when your work and living space are in the same house. As such, it’s a good idea to designate a “work only” area: a sacred space where work — and only work — gets done. Likewise, try not to bring your files and documents into the bedroom. This physical separation ensures that you can “shut down” and recharge properly to face the days ahead.

Hang up some art

grey chair and grey desk in home office
Art creates a productive worker, according to studies. This is a beautiful workspace from Overstock.

A happy worker is a productive worker, and research shows that surrounding yourself with art is one effective method to boost your mood. More precisely, Small Business Trends says that 53% are happier when there’s an art in the office.

To apply this to your own home, you can try putting up a gallery wall. It’s inexpensive but looks classy and elegant. An article on home improvement ideas published on HomeServe states that you can put up your own gallery wall with original art prints or even family photographs. Aside from reaping the benefits of being around art, it’s also a way to enjoy your memories and remind yourself why you’re trying to be productive in the first place.

Invest in ergonomics

Though it’s tempting to work in bed or hunched over on your couch, it can have adverse effects on your health in the long run. And during a global pandemic when hospitals are generally very busy, the last thing you want is to injure yourself.

PC Mag provides a quick rundown of what you need for an ergonomic home office. If you have the budget, consider investing in a chair with adjustable height and tilt features. A laptop riser is also a worthwhile purchase to prevent forward-flexing your neck. Otherwise, you can use typical household items like towels (for lumbar support) or books (to keep your laptop at eye level) to save money. Remember that with a comfortable work setup comes increased productivity and focus.

Work where there’s natural light.

Ranking above fitness centers and onsite cafeterias, office workers actually prefer access to natural light and outdoor views as their number one workplace perk report Harvard Business Review. In fact, 47% of employees admitted feeling low on energy when their workspace doesn't get enough natural light. For a work-from-home setup, this should be an easy problem to remedy. Consider stationing your work area near a window. Alternatively, draw the curtains back to allow sunlight to shine into your home. This can help improve your productivity by preventing eyestrain, reducing drowsiness, and lifting your overall mood.

sunlight lamp for the office
If you don't have good natural light in your office, you may want to try a sunlight lamp. 

Working is one of the few ways we can regain some semblance of normalcy during the pandemic. And while it can be difficult while working from home, that doesn't mean we should be less productive. Try out these simple home rearrangement tips, and hopefully, it will help boost your efficiency at work.

work space in the home

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chicken enchiladas made in the Epicure steamer