20 Tips for Optimizing Your Home Office


by Dr. R. Kay Green

Amidst this pandemic, many people are working from home for the first time. This means that people who otherwise would not give much thought to their home offices are being forced to look at them in a more constructive light. There are ways to set up a home office for success, and small details can make a big difference. Here are 20 ways you can improve and optimize your home office for a productive work day during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  1. It is all about location. Make sure your office is in a convenient location. It should be somewhere where you do not do anything else — if possible, avoid spaces where you eat and sleep. Try to limit activity there to work activity only.
  2. Pay attention to which way your desk is facing. Some people prefer to have their desks facing the window, while other people feel more comfortable facing the door. You may want to experiment to see what makes the most sense for you.
  3. Make sure distractions are out of sight. It will be hard to focus on work if you can see the pile of dirty laundry that needs to be done, or the dirty dishes in the sink. Take an “out of sight, out of mind” approach and make sure that the only things you need are within view.
  4. Minimize email checking. It is easy to lose entire hours to answering emails and following up on projects. Try to minimize the amount of times you check your email per day. If possible, consider turning off notifications as well.
  5. Keep supplies stocked. In order to set yourself up for success, you should have everything you need. Keep a running tally of when you are getting low on things. Now more than ever, conserve resources where possible so that you can minimize the number of times you go out.
  6. Add some personalization. Your home office should be a comfortable place for you. So do not be afraid to add some pictures or decorations that make you happy and inspire you.
  7. Be aware of what is behind you. While remote working, you will probably have video conferences. That means that everyone will be able to see what is behind you. Take the time to keep that area clean and clutter-free.
  8. Invest in good headphones. Headphones help minimize distractions, especially in multi-person households. For very noisy locations, invest in noise-cancelling headphones.
  9. Keep track of your coworkers. It is harder to know what is going on in your coworker’s lives when you cannot talk to them regularly in person. Try to stay updated personally as well as professionally with regular texts or a chat room.
  10. Make your office suit your needs. Your work is unique, so it makes sense that your home office should be unique, too. Consider what you get out of your work office and how you can recreate that at home.
  11. Do not be afraid to move things around. Keeping things fresh will help you stay motivated and productive throughout the day. If you think your furniture might look better arranged differently, take the time to do that.
  12. Keep your desk “off-limits.” If you have children or roommates, make sure they know not to move things around. Your desk should also be off-limits to you when it is not “work time.” This will make sure that you stay focused when you are actually at your desk.
  13. Use natural lighting. When possible, use natural light from outside as opposed to artificial light. Also, try to be aware of how much screen time you are getting, and try to take care of your eyes as much as possible.
  14. Have a source of fresh air. Just something as simple as opening a window can improve your mood and make it easier to focus. Identify any sources of fresh air in your office and take advantage of them.
  15. Brighten up the room with plants. Plants add a bit of color to otherwise plain rooms and can provide a healthier atmosphere.
  16. Have everything you need within reach. This will minimize the temptation to get distracted by searching for something. It will also make sure that you are able to stay organized.
  17. Keep a “catch-all” drawer. To avoid your desk getting too cluttered, have a drawer to put anything that you do not know what to do within the moment. Then, schedule some time to clean out that drawer regularly.
  18. Have a designated place for your phone. With no one around, the temptation to scroll through social media on your phone is a bit higher. Minimize this by putting your phone somewhere where you can hear it in an emergency, but not reach it.
  19. Make sure technology is taken care of. Nothing will kill your motivation faster than a malfunctioning computer or spotty wifi. Also, make sure you invest in whatever you need to be productive, whether that is a printer, a scanner, or whatever you use regularly in your office. Even Googling “internet services near me” helps with this.
  20. Clean regularly. Clutter can lead to anxiety and distraction. Schedule regular cleaning times for your office space.




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