However old you are, September has that start-of-term feeling. It may not involve unflattering uniforms – I still can’t wear bottle green without getting flashbacks to my school days – but it is a natural time to give things an overhaul.
Whether you are freelance, work part-time from home or just need somewhere to crack on with your side hustle, creating a space that’s organised, clutter-free and has a bit of personality will help you get out of your PJs and into work mode. I spoke to Pool readers who work from home, many with kids to factor into the equation, to get their advice on how to smash the to-do list.
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OK, so a jazzy pen holder won’t directly help you meet that deadline, but organising your space and having everything in its place undoubtedly makes it easier to focus on the task in hand. And, while there’s a lot less paper involved these days, it’s likely you’ll still have some stationery to stash. The work-from-homers I spoke to said that just having one or two inexpensive bits, that both zhuszhed up their space and kept clutter at bay, helped them resist the urge to work from the sofa.
Don’t sit in the shade – think about your lighting
In an ideal world, your workspace will have plenty of natural light, but that might not be the case if, say, that nook under the stairs is the only space you’ve got. A desk lamp will help with that and it’s a quick way to add a bit of colour and personality to proceedings. It sounds obvious, but make sure anything you need to plug in is within easy reach of sockets, otherwise you risk tripping over wires every time you get up for a cuppa.
Say yes to the power of plants
Greenery doesn’t just look good on your desk shelf – adding plants into the mix can help purify the air, absorb noise and scientific studies have shown that they can improve productivity and happiness in an office. So, why not apply that philosophy to your mini workspace? When choosing the plant for you, check what sort of light levels and watering it requires. As a serial plant killer, I can attest that a brown, shrivelled specimen might not do much for morale on a dreary Monday morning.
Go upwards not outwards
While we all wish we had an office space as roomy as Don Draper’s retro cool palace in Mad Men, the reality is that most of us are fitting ours in wherever there’s space and, increasingly, that might be in the kitchen or even bedroom. To meet the demand, retailers are stocking more slimline desks and those that can have a dual function. If you find you’ve run out of worktop, consider a leaning desk with shelf space, as these have a small footprint. Or opt for floating shelves to store your bulkier bits.
Take your seat seriously
Without fail, all the work-from-homers said that physically sitting at a desk helps, rather than, say, the kitchen table, and it shows anyone else in the house – including the kids – that you are in “work mode” and should not be disturbed. Treat yourself to a comfortable chair and we promise that it will help with the breakfast-to-work transition. And comfortable doesn’t have to mean ugly – there are lots of slicker options about that can double up as an extra dining chair.
Look after your health
It’s no use having a workspace that only looks good on Instagram – in an office, you’d get a desk assessment, so the same should apply at home. If you find yourself aching from hunching over a laptop, consider getting a laptop stand, wireless keyboard and mouse. Not only will the set-up help keep you RSI-free, it is also an excuse to invest in a snazzy mouse mat.