While most of us would love a dedicated home office, the truth is, not all of us have the space. In fact, many of us have to rely on cramped quarters or a desk shoved into the corner of our bedroom for work space. No matter how your work area is set up, there are a few things you can do to make it more comfortable, better organized and easier on the eyes — all of which can improve focus and motivation.
1. Avoid traffic
If you don't have a dedicated office space with a door you can close, definitely set up your space well out of the regular flow of household traffic. For starters, you don't want to be constantly distracted by the comings and goings of your family members or pets, but you also want to set up a home office that inspires you to work, and stay working. If it's simply part of your home, you may feel more like you're hanging out at home than putting in time and paying the bills, and it can also cause other family members to feel like you're not "really" working — which of course we know is not true.
2. Don't ignore your walls
The walls that surround you as you work are a canvas that you shouldn't ignore. Many traditional outside-the-house offices have walls that are painted white, and even the walls of your home may be bathed in shades of alabaster. If so, consider changing it out to a soothing, cooler color — studies have shown that white walls can increase errors and erode your productivity. Not up for painting your whole office or room? Buy some posterboard on a cool color like light green or blue (and a couple of cheap frames) and hang them up on the walls you face for an easy productivity boost.
3. Strive for natural light
Natural light is best on your eyes and your mental state (if you've stared at a monitor for hours on end, you know what we mean). If you absolutely have no windows in your home office, use mirrors to channel some sunlight into your work space — even a series of them if you have to.
4. Optimize charging space
Most of us who work from home have a variety of devices that need to be charged. A USB hub is the logical choice — one device uses a single plugin for several charging cables — but even setting that up can be a nightmare. Designate a single surface for this purpose (for example, the top of a bookshelf or filing cabinet) and tuck excess cables back out of sight.
5. Add another surface
Available surface space is one of the most common complaints of those who work from home (and let's face it, even those who work in a traditional office), so pick up one or two small side tables to give yourself more room to spread out. We love these inexpensive side tables from Ikea, which are small enough that they don't take up tons of room but can really ease your cramped-up, stressed-out mind when you need to go through multiple documents.
6. Get a label maker
Forget about buying yet another storage container for just that one purpose — get a label maker and convert all your storage to usable, organized space. Label makers for the home can be pretty darn fancy (and editable), which can make your efforts far easier. Having clear labels will help motivate you to actually keep things where they need to go, which can result in less clutter and less distraction.