7 Simple Ways to Improve Your Home Office

26 Comments

Since we spend a lot of time in our home offices, it’s a good idea to set them up according to our needs. But if you don’t have the time or money for a complete office makeover, even a few simple changes can turn your home office from drab to inspirational.

Here are a few things you can try:

515333_working_girlAdd a plant or two.
It can be refreshing to see some green plants your office. They can provide the necessary contrast, especially if you too many gadgets lying around. Some particular types of plants, such as heartleaf philodendron and English ivy, can also improve the air quality in your office. Just make sure to place them near a window.

If you want to add more artistic flair to your office plants, you can use a terrarium instead. For inspiration, visit the terrarium pool at Flickr.

Have visual inspiration.
I like having paintings, posters and other inspiring visuals in my office. These range from family photos to framed paintings from some artist friends. Having them around helps me regain my focus when I find that my eyes are randomly wandering around the room. If you don’t have the budget to buy art prints, you can always look for interesting images online and print them. The Dubberly Design Office has a wonderful concept map of the creative process, which you can download as a PDF file. Hugh MacLeod also has cartoons you can print out and use as “cube grenades.”

Evaluate your desk for ergonomics.
Even a few inches can make a difference to your comfort. Ergotron.com has a handy workspace planner that allows you to find the right position for your workstation’s components.

Keep healthy snacks and drinks nearby.
Many web workers I know love to keep a cup of tea or coffee at their desk. But instead of placing them on the same table as your computer, I suggest that you place them on a different table to prevent accidental spills.

I also find that planning healthy snacks beforehand and placing them in my office makes it easy for me to choose healthy food (such as fruits) compared to convenience foods I tend to find in the fridge or the kitchen. By making the healthier snacks easier to access, they’ll be the first thing I’ll reach for. It’s a good idea to keep a basket or tray of healthy snacks in your office.

Add a whiteboard.
There are so many ways to use a whiteboard that I find it hard to imagine working without one. While I keep my daily task list on Google Calendar, the whiteboard gives me a quick overview of my commitments for the next three months.

Repaint your walls. The ambient color of your office can make a big difference to your working mood. Cool colors such as blue and green tend to be relaxing, while bright colors like orange and yellow are invigorating. Color psychology isn’t an exact science, so choose the paint color that reflects your working style.

Set up a relaxation corner.
Sometimes my home office is the only quiet room in the house. Although I mostly do my work in this office, it also becomes my sanctuary when my housemates have people over. If you have a similar home environment, a small chair can be good for unwinding during your breaks.

Have you tried doing any of the above items? What other simple changes have you made to your home office?

Image by EdwinP from sxc.hu

26 Comments

Justin Levy

Some great suggestions! I think the first step, which is most important, is to have a work area at home. At my last apartment I didn’t have an area that was an office area which meant that I sat on the couch most nights working = not good for productivity.

You then need to set up the office in a way that will inspire you to be productive and creative. These are some great tips to use! I find that just cleaning helps a lot too :)

Janet | Web Design

I have just stumbled upon your blog, and just loved this post, there is nothing better than a good working environment and I just loved the tips that you have shared here, I have applied some of them in our office like the plants we have painted the wall in colors that create creativity, big help and thanks again.

Regards
Janet

Mark Chance

I had a strange idea this weekend – since I never have enough desk space, and I seem to be working on laptops – why not use the floor instead of a desk? OK – sitting is an issue, but then I looked at so-called “gaming” chairs… that and a laptop cooling cradle… thoughts?

J. Wood

I would highly suggest ergonomic office supplies. A chair, keyboard, mouse, anything. I use a mouse I got from ultimatebackstore.com and it totally helps my arms. They have a bunch of massage accessories too.

Victoria Powell

I have already incorporated all of these items into my office. I recently added a fountain and the sound of the water is relaxing. Because of the enormous hours spent working in my office I have added a television, a dog bed for my pets who accompany to my office each day as well as a table separate from my computer to spread out on when necessary. I also have a treadmill nearby which I use to expend pent up frustrations when necessary.

Kate

Try silk plants and flowers – no watering required and no guilt when they die! And a second monitor is well worth the expense – much easier on the mind!

Faruk OZTURK

It seems they are useful suggestions.. I have a suggestion also. Use a big mirror on your table. So you can see yourself while working. I tried it and improved my performance. :-)

Shola

Music, music, music. Although non-tangible, it’s definitely a plus in the comfort area, at least in the auditory sense (silence tends to subconsciously remind you that you are working, whereas one has fun when listening to music). Furthermore, it can be somewhat of a catalyst for the flow of creative juices.

ryanrampersad

I agree about the warm white light, it really makes a difference in my mood. The plants and white boards are also useful additions.

Linda Varone

The quality of lighting in a home office can make or break your experience there. Use “warm white” of “soft white” light bulbs rather than “cold white” or “bright white.” Warm/Soft white looks more like incandescent lighting and less like the acres of fluorescent panels in the typical cubical farm. Also have a lamp on or very near your desk with a translucent shade – something like a table lamp – to diffuse light and prevent fatiguing glare – avoid “desk lamps”.

Anelly

If you organize the home office as you want than yuo will feel so good that yuo will just love to work. The work space it’s very important for all of us.

John Hunter

Get a second monitor. It isn’t exactly the same type of thing as your other posts but it make s huge difference.

Healthy snack and a window are huge. Get up and walk around occasionally. I can walk out onto my deck. Even just a minute doing that a couple times a day makes a big difference.

Clare Kumar

Your comment about an office having to be inspirational is right on. I’m a strong advocate for original art in home offices – a symbol of someone else’s creativity to remind us of our own.

Dawn Foster

I have a small couch in my office that I use when I need to read client documents or other materials. Similar to your relaxation corner, I like to use my couch for work reading, too. There is something about sitting on a couch reading that seems more relaxing – even when I’m reading something for work.

It’s also a nice change of pace from desk if I’ve been in the office all day. I occasionally sit on the couch in my office with my laptop when I want a change.

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