Productivity is a very hot word right now in business. There are books, podcasts, videos, even entire blogs dedicated to how to become more productive in your workday. But for most of you, the workday doesn’t end once you clock out of the office. You work on paying bills, getting ready for your next networking event, managing your emails, and a whole lot more. But there’s something different about doing these sorts of work tasks inside your house. There is a whole different side of productivity when it comes to working at home.
So, what are some tips to staying productive while doing work at home? One super helpful one is to work in a specific space: a “home office.” It doesn’t have to be big, it can be a small corner of your living room, a separate desk in your dinning area, or even a few shelves in your bedroom (though I don’t recommend working from your bed). But it has to be a place with the sole purpose of getting work done.
Once you have a home office, there are a few great tips out there on how to organize it specifically to increase your own productivity. Below are some of my favorite ways to encourage productivity in your home office.
How to Encourage Productivity in Your Home Office
1. Keep your workspace as clean as possible
This will help you stay focused on the work that you are doing right now. I personally spend about 15 minutes every morning de-cluttering my workspace so that I can limit my distractions while I am working.
Here are a few things to try as you de-clutter your workspace:
• Pick one calendar or to-do list system, and stick with that and only that. I use Google Calendar – it’s free to use and there is an iOS and Android app for it.
• Clear out your “bulletin board” monthly. Even if you don’t have a physical bulletin board with calendars and events posted to it, I still want you to clear out your old paper events. This means getting rid of flyers for past events, old magazines, last month’s calendar, and everything else that’s outdated that you have around your office (and are not required by law to keep).
• Purchase some new (and cute!) storage boxes for your office materials. This will help in both keeping your office tools organized and off your desk, as well as in decorating your office with your own personal style.
2. Make different spaces in your office serve very specific purposes.
Help your brain associate what you want to get done with different areas of your home office. If you want to read more, then have an area devoted to reading in your office. If you want to get better at paying your bills on time (and keeping better records of said bills), then devote an area of your desk to bill-paying. Better yet, have a cute storage box with all of your bill-related materials inside. Then whenever it’s time to pay the bills, you can put it on your desk and be completely ready.
The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.
3. Throw out things that should have been thrown out a while ago
There are a lot of things that we keep on to “just in case” that we mostly likely will never use again. Likewise, sometimes we just forget to throw some old or broken things out. It’s time to get rid of some of these things!
Here is a short list of things you should throw out right now:
• Pens, highlighters, pencils, and markers that no longer work
• Old magazines, newspapers, event flyers, and other paper advertisements
• Broken or otherwise nonfunctional office equipment (I had an iPhone 3 sitting in my desk drawer for YEARS just in case. Try to donate those old phones to charities if you can)
• Old to-do lists, printed guides, or other forms that are no longer of use to you
It might be difficult to let it go, but trust me, you’ll thank yourself once you feel the benefits of your purge the next day.
4. Every month, go through these four questions that will help you reorganize your office supplies to encourage your own productivity:
• What do your drawers look like right now?
• Can you easily find things you use weekly?
• Can you easily access things you use daily?
• How many coffee cups are on your desk right now? (Current: 2. Guilty!)
These questions will help you stay more organized in the long-term, as well as continue to help you de-clutter your workspace.
Those are my top four favorite ways to encourage productivity in my home office. What are some ways that you stay productive at home? Do you use a separate space to work? Or if you work in a corporate office, how does your actual desk or cube look? Leave a comment letting me know!