Tips for making your home office

Don’t let disorganisation get in the way of setting up your home office

Tips for making your home office

If you’re a freelancer or digital business owner, working from home is most likely your reality. There are so many amazing perks to being based chez vous, starting with that whole “no commute” thing. However, finding the balance between work life and home life all in the same place can be a challenge if you’re not mindful of possible distractions. Life coach Zeta Yarwood tells Time Out why there is much more to the success of working from home than balancing your laptop on the chopping board while you stir in the pasta sauce. We quiz her on her top dos and don’ts.

How much space do you need for a home office?
You want enough space so that you can move around and access everything with ease. If you’re constantly bumping into things or feel claustrophobic, you will start to associate your office space with frustration and stress, leaving you less motivated to work in there.

How should you choose the right space to set up?
Pick a room that has a lot of natural lighting, as this is good for our mood and our sleep patterns. I would probably choose a room furthest away from any distractions such as the TV in the living room or the fridge in the kitchen.

Does colour really make a difference to focus and concentration?
Colour is great for lifting mood and energy, leading to feelings of inspiration and motivation, which subsequently and positively affect focus and concentration. It’s about personal taste and choosing colours that provoke the right emotions in you. Some people have found red can increase feelings of anger and frustration, while others have said it can increase their feelings of passion.

How do you define a work area and keep others from interrupting you?
When it’s work time, it’s work time. Make sure your spouse or family knows that just because you are home does not mean you’re available. As you’re setting up your work space, explain that this is your “office” and you need peace and quiet to do work. It’s about setting realistic boundaries that work for you and your family.

Are you as productive at home as you would be in an office environment?
Productivity stems from two things. First, motivation. And second, ability to manage external distractions. If you’re not fully engaged in what you’re doing, you will be more susceptible to getting distracted. Lack of engagement could be because the task at hand is boring, stressful, too complicated or overwhelming. So, in effect, it doesn’t matter if you’re at home or at work. You’ll subconsciously entertain anything that will distract you. Whether that’s answering emails, checking social media, going to the fridge or making another cup of coffee. It’s a form of procrastination.

Aside from the obvious flexibility, what would you say is the top benefit for home working?
Reduced stress levels. While you might be physically at the office, mentally you might be focusing on personal issues. Working from home can help reduce stress levels because you feel more in control and have more mental capacity to focus on your work. Also, improved health – by working at home the commuting time saved enables you to resume physical exercise, to go for a long walk, for example, before and after work, or to join a local gym.

And the potential pitfalls to watch out for?
1) Feeling isolated. While you might work better on your own, it is important to remember we are a social species and living like an island is not sustainable.

2) Not feeling part of the team. If you work for a company, working from home might mean you find yourself removed from key company updates, news, changes, etc.

3) Self-motivation. To work from home successfully you have to be able to motivate yourself and do something you love.

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