It’s been nearly two months since many Americans were sent to work from home. By now, you’ve probably realized that working on the living room couch, or from your bed, or even on the porch, doesn’t do much to boost productivity.
To keep routine and get you focused on work it’s important to have a dedicated work space that is comfortable, calm and clean. That way, you can focus on work and temporarily tune out the news, your family, or anything else that might be distracting you.
We asked six women how they’re making their home work space more pleasant. Here’s their advice:
Carve Out Dedicated Space
Sarah Shemkus, who lives outside Boston, Massachusetts, doesn’t have a home office, despite the fact that she normally works from home. When the pandemic struck, she wanted a more dedicated work space.
“When this all started, I moved a desk into the corner of my bedroom to make it a fresh start,” she said. Then, she made the effort to make the space appealing, buying a new rug, lamp and chair.
“Sprucing it up made the whole vibe more positive— I actually look forward to sitting down at my desk now,” she says.
Make Yourself Comfortable
Chaya Milchtein, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, invested in an office chair specifically designed for larger bodies.
“It’s made my time in my home office a much more pleasant experience,” Milchtein says. “Now that I have a chair that actually fits and is comfortable, it allows me to be more productive.”
Before buying a new office chair or monitor, check with your employer. With offices closed, some companies are allowing employees to take their office equipment home during the pandemic. While a laptop and hammock chair may seem appealing at first, you’ll soon be grateful for a more official setup.
Find the Small Changes that Work for You
Kelli Barry, of Macomb, Illinois, found that she needed to treat working from home just like working in the office. “I find I am more mentally prepared if I get ready like I’m going to the office,” said the mom of two.
Small changes have made the day more pleasant once she’s “at work.” Her desk faces a window, which is “good video lighting and it helps my mood,” Barry said. Next, she invested in a desk that she could sit or stand at. Her final requirement surprised even her:
“Invest in supportive slippers! I found out the hard way that not wearing shoes in my house all day and standing at my desk hurt my feet and back,” she says.
Personalize Your Space
Like Barry, Gretchen Bossio of Seattle, Washington, likes to have her desk facing a window. “The natural light and scenery is an endorphin boost for me,” she says. Bossio recently added a Himalayan salt lamp to her office because she liked its “calming glow.”
Neesa Suncheuri, of Queens, New York, lights “a Wiccan candle or two” when she sits down at her desk to work, and “scatters crystals around.”
Whether it’s a salt lamp, candle light, or fresh flowers, add any elements to your office that transform the space into somewhere you want to spend time.
When Anne McCarthy, of New York, settles down to work from home, she makes sure that her space is clear and that she has her noise-cancelling headphones nearby.
“Because daily COVID life is such a mentally stressful time, I find it harder to focus than normal,” she says. “So I’m taking extra steps to hone my focus by blocking out excess noise and by removing things that may ordinarily be on my desk, like books and notebooks and pictures.”
She even keeps a full water bottle on hand, so that once she’s started work there’s no excuse to wander through the apartment, “so that I can try to optimize my productivity in the moments I feel productive,” McCarthy says.
Kelly Burch is a freelance writer covering finance, family, business and more. When she's not behind the computer she enjoys exploring the lakes and mountains of New Hampshire, where she lives. Connect with Kelly and read more of her work on Facebook or Twitter.