Work at Home Solutions: Creating a Healthy and Productive Workspace

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So you are going to be working at home.  Congrads!

I mean it!  I love working at home.  If you have mixed feelings, I hope you’ll take a look at some of the other posts on this site.  Check out:  Work at Home Doldrums  or another favorite What’s That Smell? for some tricks on dealing with those mixed feelings can make the difference between being successful at home, or feeling trapped!

If you are just getting set up and have a room to yourself, set it up not only to be a good productive work area but also a space that is energizing and healthy and creative.   You are the boss now.  Don’t set yourself up in a closet or spidery corner of the basement that is worse than the cubicle at the office!

You will be spending a lot of time in your office.  It should feel welcoming.  You should love going in there!

One of the big lessons you will learn being your own boss is that you have to be your own chief of celebrations and motivation.  It is up to you to find ways to keep your head in the game but also feel motivated and inspired.  Use your space to help you.

I have a little lamp on my side desk.  It has a dark cream colored shade.  It casts about enough light to prevent me from breaking a toe but the light it casts is a warm yellow.  I have a little sign standing under it with my word for the year.  (This year is PURPOSEFULL [yes, it is spelled incorrectly, on purpose!])  When the little light is on, the room looks cozy and warm and inviting.   It makes me feel good.  Find what works for you so that you are happy going into your office.

Color

Think about color.  Color can set a mood instantly.  Not only do they affect our mood, they affect our creativity.  So maybe you are not be able to remodel the entire room and get all new furniture AND a new executive chair but if you are only going to to the basics, invest in some paint.

What colors do you like?  Let’s consider some colors.

Reds and Oranges are bold and fiery, intense and ALARMING.  It is the color you use if you want to draw someones eyes to something like the sign that says STOP, or the fire extinguishes or the EXIT sign.  Not really a good color for your entire office.  It can actually increase the heart rate.  That is probably not a good work atmosphere.

Maybe you could use the color as an accent wall?  Maybe.

Maybe you really love that bold red accent wall and you love the way it pops when you enter the room.  But after 5 hours of sitting in front of it with your computer,  your eyes may be complaining!  If you have to have that red wall, make sure it is not where your eyes will see it all day long!

Yellow can be bright or mellow.  People think it’s fresh like morning.  It’s optimistic and hopeful.  Psychologists suggest it is good for creatives (writers, developers, artists) to have yellow offices.

I like yellow flowers, not other yellow things.  I don’t know why.  Just have a anti-yellow thing.  So no matter how good the psychologists say it is for people to have a yellow office, it would grind on my nerves.  You know yourself and what works best for you!

These reds and yellows and oranges are bold and can be agitating so why not consider using them as accents, rather than the whole wall or in the art of picture or pillow?

Did you notice how much blue and green mother nature uses?  They are good for your office too.

Colors like green (considered to be restful) are supposed to improve efficiency and focus. They also lend an overall sense of well-being. Bottom line: If you want happier, more effective workplace, green and blue are wise choices.

Blue is a healing color, it is calming and stable and will help you remain calm and focused.

Green is considered to be restful.  It is supposed to cut down on eye strain.   It is supposed to help with focus to keep you calm and productive.

Women, for some reason seem to find white depressing.  Men feel the same about purples!  So find a good color that works for you.

Just remember beige and gray are not going to help your productivity!  We could almost all agree on that!

Colors are very personal so take the information above and use it to your advantage, not as law.  I love blue.  I find it very calming and have it in my bedroom.  For that reason, I don’t think it is a good choice for my office!  zzzzzz

Lighting

When you are setting up your office, consider lighting.  Both kinds of light: natural and artificial.  If possible, make sure that your office has a window for air and light.

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View of Boarded Windows and Brick Wall

Maybe you don’t have a view of the ocean or the mountains.  I get it.  Maybe your view is a solid brick wall.  And it’s not your wall so you can’t go out and decorate it, but there are things you can do IN-side.  Maybe you can use top-down-bottom-up shades?  You can play with the adjustments allowing light in, but less of a view of the brick!

Or soft sheer curtains, with their flowy, hazy look that will soften the brick?  If you put a plant in front of that, the brick will fade away.  You will get light without the view.   It is the light that is really important here.

And who knows, maybe looking at the hazy curtains will help your imagination work and by imagining a new view, you will end up moving into that view!

The light from the window is not always going to be enough and  some of us don’t have a window so artificial lighting is really important.  I am not a lighting expert so I think you  should take a look at The Decoist and their advice on Home Office Lighting Ideas.

 

Their point that we should all remember starting out, is that home lighting is not meant to be office lighting.  When you take over the spare bedroom and it has a bedroom light, you find out all too soon that you just can’t SEE and that is a problem!  for productivity and for enjoying your work at home experience.   You can come up with options that do not involve rewiring the entire house but replacing the ceiling fixture and adding some other task lights might be the first thing you should do before moving into your new office.

Flow and Movement

We’ve all heard about getting into the flow and how important it is for productivity and creativity.  I think the flow of your office will help your mental flow!

Think of feng shui and the idea of flow and movement of energy.  I’m not suggesting that you go all woo-woo, but is your office cluttered and dusty?  (If it’s cluttered, it’s dusty.  No escaping that.)  Organize the drawers or shelves or whatever you need to get stuff put away.  Let the air flow around the room.  It’s good for you, in more ways that just breathing!

Keep the air flowing.  Stale air makes for stale ideas!  Open the windows and let in a little air.  If it’s winter and it’s 10 below zero and you’re a freezy-cat like me, just open it for a few minutes!

How about adding an air cleaner to your office?  It’s amazing how much dust these things pull from the air.  You’ll be surprised at the particulate you were breathing!

Green

Add a little green.  I realize, you may have a small space and I just told you to cut down on clutter but finding a place for a little green is important.  Did you know that plants help to reduce static electricity?  Yes, and they are opposite to us in that they take in carbon dioxide and ‘breathe out’ oxygen.  Uh-huh!  They will help reduce toxins and improve the air quality in your office.

And before you tell me that you have a black thumb and kill any plant ever,  take a look at this website on oxygen producing plants and you’ll see that some of them are almost impossible to kill!  The plant called the mother-in-laws-tongue is so hardy, you can grow this no matter what your past plant experience has been! Breath easy!

Since we’re talking about healthy, the more natural materials you can use in your office the better.  Wood, stone and even paints where possible.   There are many greener, eco-friendly paint options available now so take advantage.

Empty Desk

It’s a good goal to keep your desk empty.

What? you say!

Have a drawer or cabinet near at hand that has what you need every day.  You don’t want to be schlepping around the room every time you need a  staple but have it where you can close the door on it and voile!  Clutter free!  Coming in each day to a desk that is weighted down with piles of work will make you depressed and feeling harassed in no time.

Give yourself a half hour at the end of the day to file stuff away and write out your to-do list for the next day.  If possible, put the prioritized pile in a drawer where you can easily pull it out tomorrow but it is not stacked in your face when you come in first thing.  Let the air flow a round the office over night!

You really will think more clearly and feel freer if your office is neat.  Added bonus:  without tons of paper in your way, you’ll be able to clean the office in a few minutes.

Feel-Good Items

Add some feel-good items: a painting or sculpture or wind-chimes or fountain to add to the positive mood.  Not a million things to clutter the place — just a few choice items.

If you have a million feel good items and framed photos, change your display  This is also good for your creativity. Once a month  switch out the items.  Put new ones in your office.  Put the others in a different room.  Move and rotate them around the house., different rooms and different combinations.  You’ll see them differently and enjoy them more.

I hope these ideas on setting up your office have inspired you to create a great space for yourself!  I’d love to hear from you in the comments below on what you have done to make your home office the perfect space for you.

Patt Timlin is a marketing expert set on sharing her expertise with other online marketers to help them achieve the dream of working online. She is secretly pleased with the surge in content marketing as revenge of the English majors! Entrepreneur, blogger, guide, helper – Patt loves the online world and loves to share it!

Patt is the author of: Patt Blogs

Patt Timlin’s Spot4 Blog

Work At Home Product Guide

Spot4Connections.com and Patt Timlin Online.

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