Being Productive While Working from Home

In March of 2020, when I knew I would (thankfully) be working from home for the foreseeable future, I understood the importance of having a space within my home where I could go to be productive, focus on my deliverables, create content and just read (if the occasion called for it).

My space originally started as our catch-all room: a guest room/laundry room/occasional office. But having so many different functions, it never really served any of them perfectly. And the funny thing about guest rooms - when you have one, you usually end up getting guests! After we welcomed our third boy to the family in the fall of 2019, we figured it was time to put the guest room out of commission (space is at a premium in Brooklyn houses).

In reworking my space to figure out how to work from home during COVID, I came up with the following elements to make sure I could be at my best:

1. Contains all materials and resources

You may not be able to have a specially designated room in your house that can serve as your office, or at least share space with another function. However, you can designate a specific space within your home that contains all the materials and resources that you'll need to attend to deliverables and be creative and productive. Before my work space existed in this room, I had a corner in my bedroom with a comfortable chair and a space to keep all my papers, books and pens. Before we moved to the house where we now live, the living room doubled as my office and the coffee table held all my materials. But make sure that you aren't moving your items from one place to another every day. This takes you out of the WHAT and forces you to focus on the WHERE. And when you're trying to get things done, location change can throw a serious monkey wrench in your flow.

Also consider reconfiguring the space in a room to accommodate the work area. And be sure to set up boundaries with roommates and family members - parameters around what can happen when you're in your work space and when you're not.

2. Good lighting

I CANNOT stress this enough. If your space doesn't have a window for natural light, be sure to have a bright light source so you aren't straining your eyes. Clear and bright light, especially sunlight, has scientifically proven to increase your mood and can lend itself to a more productive work space. In an article from Cleverism about how light affects productivity and mood, they gave the following statistics:

Even though these statistics are specifically related to the workplace, they can also be applied to your work-at-home space. Good lighting = good mood.

3. Comfortable and inspirational

Of equal importance is the mood you create in your space. If you need to focus on deliverables that are not your favorite things to do, it would serve you well to create a space that is comfortable and inspirational, to provide the motivation to keep you on track. As you'll see from the photos of my own space, I like to include vinspiration (vision + inspiration) boards in my office - pictures of family, friends, places I'd like to visit, quotes I love, artwork, comics. They all add to the overall feel of my space - this is a place that I come to create, to inspire others, to focus, to relax, and most of all, to get SH*T done!

Here are a few links to the items I purchased for my office that you might find useful in your own office organization (Disclaimer: I like to put things together, so none of the furniture came in one piece):

1. Desk

This is the actual desk in the pictures, but I also found a cheaper alternative here. The desk is very durable and sturdy, well-made. I purchased it in 2016 and have not had any issues after moving a few times in the space.

2. Bookshelves/Storage Units

I have two 4-cube storage units and one 6-cube storage unit. They are also very affordable and sturdy - I've had the 6-cube unit since 2016 but just purchased the two 4-cube units in 2020. I also recommend purchasing the baskets - I have a million books and sometimes want to conceal books and papers.

3. Podcast Microphone

This was a worthwhile and perfect investment for the money. As you all know, I am working on launching a podcast for LifeCode and did some research before settling on a mic. The sound is great, it was easy to assemble and set up.

4. File Boxes

I also have two types of file boxes - 2 from Target and 2 from STAPLES. I recommend the file box from Target because it is bigger, well made and cheaper than the ones from STAPLES, but they both serve the same purpose. I don't have space in my office for file cabinets...yet!

5. Printer

A little on the expensive end and many times, I talked myself out of purchasing a laser printer because of the initial cost. But last March I knew that I would need to print more often and my old ink jet just wasn't going to cut it, so I bit the bullet and purchased this HP model. It has been a dream. I don't print that much, so my ink cartridges will usually last me 3-5 months. Considering that I was changing the ink on my previous printer MUCH more often and the fact that the quality of the print is just better on a laser, I am very happy with my purchase.

I hope this list helps! And good luck setting up your workspace for maximum creativity and productivity. Let me know how it turns out!