Working from home? Here are our 12 tips on maximizing your workspace!
Updated: Aug 24, 2020
For some of us, working from home is a dream come true, while for others, it is a real-life nightmare. Whether you have a makeshift workspace or an immaculately designed executive retreat, it is crucial for your productivity that you have a functional and comforting space.
As a work from home mom, I understand the unique challenges that are the byproducts of merging your family and work life. If you are looking for ways to enhance your work from home experience or to see if you are taking full advantage of your space, please continue reading.
1. Make your work hours clear to household members and customers/ clients.
When it is time to be in “work” mode, you must optimize your productivity. However, it is equally important that clients and household members respect that time, so be upfront with your schedule. There are times when clients contact me outside of my off hours, if I do choose to work on those tasks, I automate my correspondence to send the next business day, as to create and respect my professional work boundaries.
2. Declare what is off-limits.
Our home situation has changed significantly due to my husband working from home (thanks Covid-19). I now share my office with him, so I dedicated space for his office needs, and I took the other corner of the room. Our littles also share this space with us; we have a small work desk and bookcase with all of their learning resources. I mentioned all of that to say; I get it! Even with the space being shared by all household members, I made sure to let them all know which of my things absolutely cannot be tampered with and what cannot leave the room.
3. Utilize barrier systems: baby gates, doors, room dividers, etc.
Depending on how open your space is, you may have a personal need to section off portions of your room to create privacy and division. There are countless ways that you can achieve your barrier needs, be sure to create a budget first, and shop around.
4. Keep your space tidy with minimal clutter.
As I previously mentioned, my office space quickly turned into a family gathering room. Each evening, I am adamant about picking up the little knick-knacks that may have gotten tossed around, papers that may have accumulated, fallen books, and whatever else that they may be out of place. It is hard for me to focus when my environment is unnecessarily busy, so I try to minimize distractions by ensuring my space is clean and visually appealing.
5. Lock up or put away important documents and equipment.
I have file storage, file folders, and lockboxes that I utilize to keep important and confidential papers out of reach to others. As a consultant, it is my obligation to make my clients feel safe and secured, so I keep that same tone when I am working in my home office. I also do not want to risk misplacing any pertinent tools or docs, so once I am finished working with them, I create a secure place for them.
6. Keep kids and pets entertained and at a distance while working.
Long before my husband joined us at home, I was a work from home mom. Meaning, Monday- Friday, I am juggling business duties with those of my mommy responsibilities. If I am working with strict deadlines or have pertinent client meetings, I am sure to utilize the help of my mom and mother-in-love. Most days, though, it is the three of us enjoying our time together while partaking in separate activities, like Lego building and developing financial projections.
7. Eat lunch away from your work area, if possible, and snack healthily.
It is convenient to eat where you are working; I am tempted to do so most days. However, when I smear food on my paperwork and have to restart, I get frustrated with myself. Forcing myself to get up and sit at my kitchen table provides me with a change in scenery, mental relief, and it keeps me from positively reinforcing bad habits.
8. Go outside, open a window, or find another way to get natural light and fresh air.
Unless it is storming outside, each morning, I awaken and open the blinds to let in natural sunlight. The bright sun rays have such a positive impact on my mood and energy levels. If you are not feeling as productive as you want, try opening windows to keep you reenergized throughout your workday.
9. Move around, stretch, and take breathers.
I cannot stress the importance of stretching your joints. We were not designed to sit one position for extremely long periods, which is why we experience back, hip, shoulder, and other joint pains. Please take five minutes and do some simple bends or stretches, not only will it make your body feel better, but your mind and spirit will begin to improve as well. Let us continue to normalize the protection of our health.
10. Take a short break to connect and engage with housemates.
Depending on how old your kids are, they may not understand mommy or daddy needing time away from them while in the same house. Therefore, I am always trying to find little moments throughout my day where I can play and engage with them, uninterrupted. A few minutes of attention can do wonders with children, and I often benefit by having a few extra hours that I can devote to my work.
11. Delegate non-work related tasks.
Working from home can easily become overwhelming if boundaries are not set. Household tasks can also find their way creeping onto our todo lists, so I try to be very mindful of these. A load of clothes here and there is manageable, but when I find myself splitting my work time between actual work and home chores, I know I need to do a better job at prioritizing. I also remember that I have a very loving and supportive husband, who is also willing to go above and beyond to ensure our household is running smoothly. So, do not be afraid to ask for help if you have it or hire help if you can afford it.
12. Show appreciation for the option to work from home.
There’s so much to be thankful for, even if you feel there is more that you are desiring. It is not that you cannot complain, but do not get stuck in that emotion, find the silver lining. There are so many positives that can be birthed out of our current situations, so continuously show up with a positive and deserving attitude.
We are reminded in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 to "give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (ESV)." When we learn to trust and believe God, we understand that the situations we encounter (good and bad) are for our personal growth. I look at tough times as temporary but necessary for growth and the good times as rewarding yet humbling. Make the most of this time in your life, and know that perfection will never come, and that is okay!