Tips for Making a Productive Home Office Environment

February 2, 2016

Freelancers often work from home and must find ways to foster a productive and efficient environment. A home office focused on productivity can help you grow your freelance career leaps and bounds, while a lacklustre one can restrict your earning potential. Creating a productive home office environment depends on removing distractions. I’ve found through trial and error what works and what doesn’t – and now I’m thrilled to pass on what I’ve learned.

Interview Yourself

It all starts by understanding exactly what you need out of the work space. Your needs are likely different than mine, which is why this self-interview is so important.

Ask yourself a few questions (for bonus points, actually type up your answers):

  • What type of work will I be doing in my office?
  • Will clients or colleagues be visiting my home office?
  • What type of materials or equipment do I need to complete my work?
  • What time of day will I be doing most of my work?
  • Will I be doing video conferences regularly?

Each of these questions will help you identify your core needs. And only then can you start dreaming up an aesthetically pleasing oasis of productivity and profitability.

Have a Room Dedicated to Work

It’s crucial that your home office is a separate room with a closing (and maybe locking) door.

Working at a desk in the corner of the living room or bedroom might be a decent way to get started, but you need a place to focus on work once your career starts blooming. Freelancing is a full time job and often requires more than 40 hours per week. Having a separate space to go and focus will help develop the ninja-level self-discipline that creates successful freelancers.

A separate space gives you privacy from family or roommates. Even if you live alone, having a room dedicated to focus and productivity will help you avoid the distractions that come with working in a room for sleep or relaxation. Trust me, working in the same room as your TV should be avoided.

Invest in Ergonomic Seating

For most freelancers, you’ll be spending the majority of your workday at a computer. Feeling comfortable and supported while you work will go far in increasing your ability to remain productive.  

Take time to regularly stretch and take short walks will help avoid stiffness, and a quality chair will prevent the development of chronic neck and back pain.  Body pain can be a serious distraction for anyone working in a stationary position for extended periods of time.

Invest in a comfortable, supportive chair. Ergonomic chairs may carry a higher price tag, but avoiding back and neck pain will increase your productivity, which will more than pay for the increased price.  

Maintain and Augment Your Tech

Technology is your sidekick, your accomplice and your partner in crime. The devices you use, the speed of your Internet connection and the reliability of your connection all play a role in how effective you’re able to work in your home office.

When was the last time you had a technical issue slow you down? Have you resolved the issue, or does it come up from time to time?

Technical issues, whether related to our hardware, software or networking setup, cost you time and money. They also infamously impact your mood in a negative way, which can totally derail productivity. After all, frustration is a great way to get distracted.

Investing in updated devices, including home networking equipment, may greatly enhance your earning potential. Keeping your tech operating effectively is vitally important and a crucial business expense.

You may even wish to augment your existing setup to improve efficiency. As a writer, I used to work solely with a laptop, believing I didn’t need a second monitor. One day, a friend gave me their old monitor so I put it to use. To my surprise, I was able to work much more efficiently with the added screen space.

Focus on Productivity – Not Comfort

In the world of Pinterest and Instagram, everyone wants a home office that photographs well and highlights their impeccable taste. While you should enjoy being in your home office, remember to keep your focus on productivity.

Avoid the common trap of creating a comfortable place to spend your time. Comfort is important when it comes to back support, but a bean bag chair in the corner or an unnecessary TV for “breaks” may push the limits. You don’t want to turn your home office into a relaxation room.

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Keeping focused on productivity throughout the design process will help guide your design decisions and purchases. Your money is better spent buying the equipment and technology you need to conduct business than creating a comfortable cave.

Your Home Office Can Be a Productivity Hotspot

Ultimately, the goal of all of this effort is to create a haven of productivity. From the second you step foot through the doorway, you want 100% of your focus and energy to be on completing tasks, marketing your skills and communicating with clients. Minimizing distractions is the name of the game.

Creating a truly productive home office will likely be an ongoing process. Don’t expect to complete it in a weekend and be done for life. Expect to make tweaks, enhancements and improvements over time to create an office that caters to your specific needs and work style.

Have you turned your home office into a productivity zone? Are you still struggling to remain focused? Let me know!

about the author

Freelance Contributor Chelsei Henderson is a content marketing consultant helping freelancers and entrepreneurs build successful companies in the digital world.