Welcome to Part 2 of our fall 2020 productivity series! If you read Top 10 Tips to Productively Work And Study From Home This Fall (Part 1), you know that the goal of these articles is a little different from other home office content you may have read. With many families working and studying at home this fall, we’re providing practical tools and advice to update your space so you can all enjoy it together.
While tips #1 through #5 focused on specifics like your internet connection and the state of your electronics, tips #6 to #10 will be looking at the big picture. Let’s jump in!
#6. Stock up on snacks like never before.
Nobody is at their best when they’re hangry, but this isn’t just about improving your mood. Being productive takes a lot of energy, and your body will be looking to replenish that energy frequently. That’s even more true with the kind of mental energy expanded during study.
Consider various snack options and how they fit into your daily routine. Maybe you want snack time to double up as an opportunity to get up from your desk and stretch your legs. Choosing to make some quick avocado toast or a smoothie in the kitchen might be the answer. Or if you’d rather not interrupt your workflow, you can keep mixed nuts and dried fruits right there at your desk.
Whatever your preferred snack, make sure you’ve got enough supply to make it through the week (if not longer). And finally, don’t forget to look into nutritional values and how they affect your brain and body. The pandemic has revealed some unexpected facts about weight gain in isolation, and it’s just one more thing you don’t want to have to worry about.
#7. Brush up on your organization hacks.
Sharing a work space means that it’s much more likely to get messy, which could in turn mess with your focus. When you think about it that way, organizing becomes more than a “nice-to-have” – it can help you get more done! The other benefit of keeping a tidy space? Looking great on those ubiquitous Zoom calls.
One fun way to approach this is to turn it into another family project for you and that hardworking student of yours. Get creative with storage ideas, repurpose/recycle old bookcases or shelving, binge-watch Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix – whatever helps spark inspiration.
If the thought alone is making you feel overwhelmed, we’ve got another hack for you: virtual backgrounds! A professional-looking background (whether actual or virtual) can help you feel more put together and in control. Think “what’s behind me?” before starting your next video call. If it’s a pile of old coffee mugs and snack wrappers, try a nice virtual background and see how you feel about it.
#8. Decor can make a big difference.
The lighting, room colors, and overall ambience in your home office/study space can all lend themselves to greater productivity. Pair soft ambient lighting with strategically positioned task lighting, and maybe even a small desk lamp for each person sharing the space. Good lighting will not only help you avoid eye strain but will also keep your energy levels optimal.
The wall and ceiling colours of a room can also affect the mood and concentration levels of those working in it. Colors like blue, green, and yellow have been shown to help with productivity, in the right shade and placement.
In the end, updating the decor in your shared workspace could mean some minor renovations like new paint or wallpaper. Again, including everyone in this project will not only make it go a lot faster, it will result in a more cohesive and collaborative space.
#9. Be mindful of your mental health and wellness.
Building on the last tip, decor elements that make you happy can be a boon for your mental health too. Take a break from your screen by looking at picturesque landscapes, photos of loved ones, inspirational posters, or plants (plus, looking at greenery has been proven to be beneficial for both eyesight and brain).
Establish small, easy-to-maintain rituals that help keep you balanced. Introduce timed breaks every couple of hours to stretch, go for frequent walks, or do some breathing exercises with your favorite scented candle.
Outside of school and work, consider limiting screen time and instead start trying out more board games, conversations, and good books. You can also use the opportunity to add physical activities for the whole family. Family hike, anyone?
#10. When you’re done, be done.
Even the best of us can struggle with this last tip. It’s after work hours but you realize that there’s something you forgot to do, or you feel inspired to complete one more task. Resist the urge! It’s important not to drag non-work tasks into your work space, and vice versa. The clear separation of work/study and life will help you manage your time and energy more effectively. It will signal to your brain when it should focus and when it can rest (and even fall asleep).
If something work-related comes to mind after-hours, write it down in your calendar or add a reminder for the next day. You can even mark it as high priority so it doesn’t fall through the cracks. Whatever you do, do not fire up that laptop for “one quick thing” – because it’s never just that one thing.
Know this: it is possible to make your space comfortable, enjoyable, happy, and productive.
Hopefully, these tips will help you smoothly transition from a single-use home office to a shared work and study space this fall. While you may not be able to implement all 10 tips right away, trying out one or two could make a difference in how productive you feel and give you more incentive to keep going.