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Discipline can be difficult when you’re working from home. You might be too easily distracted during office hours, or you might find yourself struggling to maintain a healthy work-life balance and seeing your sleep patterns suffer as a result.
Every entrepreneur faces these problems when first starting out. There are a number of ways to deal with the resulting stress, but wouldn’t it be better to avoid it in the first place?
The solution lies in designing the perfect home office environment. Here are my five tips to help get you there:
1. Preserve the bedroom logic.
If you’re launching your business from your college dorm room or a studio apartment, preserving the logic of your bedroom can be difficult, but it should still be one of your top priorities.
Around half of all workers read and respond to emails in bed, and that figure rises to about 80 percent among young professionals in New York City. According to professor Charles Czeisler at Harvard Medical School, this is a serious problem. Smartphones and tablets have created a world where everybody is always connected, but it’s important to have a space where you can switch it off, and that space should be your bedroom.
If your living arrangements don’t allow you to keep your office in a separate room, subdivide your studio to create areas for work and rest. Otherwise, your sleep health will deteriorate.
2. Choose the right furniture.
You’re going to be sitting in your desk chair for a long time, so find one that best suits your needs. Why not treat yourself? Pick one with multiple customization options — from a backrest to arm supports — and pay a little extra if need be.
Don’t skimp on desk space either. It may not seem likely at first, but your desktop real estate will quickly fill up. In a recent OfficeMax survey, 77 percent of responders stated that a cluttered workspace damaged their productivity. You don’t want to buy a desk just for your laptop and desk lamp only to discover that you’re going to need a triple-monitor setup. Plan your startup expansion into your furniture, and think big in advance.
Related: 4 Trends in Home-Office Design
3. Light it up.
Some people prefer to work in caves, and others crave windows. Whichever your preference, the right light is essential to your productivity. Strike a balance between natural light and artificial. Try out different rooms in your house and different desk placements within each room.
Finding the right light environment won’t just help your daytime productivity; it will also ensure you get a good night’s rest as. Researchers at Northwestern University found that people who worked in offices with windows received 173 percent more white light exposure than their peers in windowless offices, sleeping an average 46 extra minutes each night and enjoying a better quality of life.
4. Keep your space organized.
The neater your office, the neater your mind. If you have limited space to work with, go vertical. Buy tall shelves and start stacking, and exile the non-essential accessories of your office. Just like keeping your kitchen up to par, make sure your office is contemporary, too.
That includes your printer. Unless you use it on a day-to-day basis, it doesn’t need to be on your desk. I keep mine in the closet with my surplus supplies, but if you live in a shared apartment, consider investing in a communal wireless printer to save on costs.
Going wireless also cuts out one of my major bugbears: cables. I cannot stand poor cable management. Ditch as many cables as you can by adopting Bluetooth-enabled devices, and keep the essential ones wrapped and routed to their appropriate location.
5. Don’t hate on distraction.
Everyone has different working habits. Some people hate distractions while others crave them. I know graphic designers who have Netflix on at all times, but I struggle to concentrate with the TV in my field of vision.
I do, however, need some background noise. Too much and my focus goes toward the noise; too little and I concentrate on how quiet it is. Find the right level of distraction to boost your productivity.
Motivation is fleeting, but discipline is the lifeblood of any entrepreneur. If you keep your focus and create the right environment, you’ll set yourself up for success.