Published February 23, 2011
If you work from home, you know that distractions lurk everywhere. Not having a boss breathing down your neck may be liberating, but it can also make it tough to focus and get motivated. With these tips, tricks and hacks, however, you can really boost your productivity.
Increase Your Workspace
Clean off your desk: A messy desk is definitely a productivity-killer. So the first thing you need to do is make sure that your storage space is equal to your storage needs. If you find yourself drowning in a sea of papers and books, do a thorough audit and figure out what’s really necessary. Ditch the junk in the garage, get some shelves for the necessary stuff and maybe even consider upgrading to a larger desk.
Install a second monitor: For those who spend most of their time dealing with digital documents, it’s a great idea to invest in a second computer monitor, which, according to a Microsoft study, can boost productivity by up to 50 percent. These days, a high-quality second display can cost as little as $100, so even a small bump in productivity can more than offset the cost.
Hide those cables: Messes lurk under your desk, too. Swirling around the feet of nearly every desk worker is a tangle of cables that can trap dust and create confusion when you need to swap plugs. To keep the cable clutter under control, simply rig a few cheap plastic rain gutters under your desk and run the wires through them.
Whiteboard your walls: If you can’t start a task without writing a to-do list or drawing a diagram, you probably have a whiteboard in your home office. IdeaPaint is paint that transforms any wall into a giant whiteboard, giving you plenty of space to jot down an idea whenever inspiration strikes.
Get comfortable, or not
The right chair: When shopping for the perfect desk chair, you shouldn’t necessarily be looking for the most comfortable option - this is a work chair, after all, not a La-Z-Boy. Pick out something that gives you plenty of lower back support, as it will help your posture and alleviate the strains of sitting all day. If your current chair is getting the job done for the most part, but you’d like a little extra support, an $11 lumbar support add-on might be all you need. Once you have your chair sorted out, it’s a good idea to run through an ergonomics checklist to optimize things like posture and monitor placement.
Standing desk: It might seem counter-intuitive, but you can also increase your productivity by getting less comfortable. A sedentary desk job isn’t just bad for the waistline, but it may also stifle your ability to concentrate throughout the day. A standing desk is a torso-high desk that, as the name implies, you stand at, rather than using a chair or stool. Proponents rave about how these desks increase focus and alertness throughout the day.
If you’re interested in trying a standing desk, but a commitment to a permanent upright position is too extreme, check out GeekDesk. The company’s line of adjustable height desks offers the best of both worlds, allowing you to easily switch between sitting and standing configurations.
Have the Right Distractions
Exercise breaks: The monotony of working alone at home can make if difficult to concentrate as the day wears on, so it’s important to have distractions that will work to your benefit. Been meaning to hit the gym lately? Buy a few free weights or a treadmill and take an exercise break every few hours. Ten to 15 minutes is all you need to give your brain a break and a your body a boost. Or go for a walk. A change of scenery is key when you spend both your workday and off-hours in the same place.
Chore breaks: If you aren’t the exercising type, schedule a few household chores throughout the day. You’ll have to get to these tasks eventually, so you might as well make them work to your advantage by giving you a break from your job.
An occasional video game break: For a more sedentary pursuit, try taking an occasional video game break. Stay away from highly-immersive games - you don’t want to get sucked into an all-day Black Ops marathon, after all. But a few minutes mastering a level of Angry Birds can be a welcome distraction.