Your Office Affects Your Productivity

Well, here we are. It’s mind-boggling to think how quickly Covid-19 has crept up on us. Earlier in the month, it was business as usual. There were whispers of “this bug” going around but no one seemed to have a handle on exactly what it was or how it would affect us. This is just another reminder of how quickly life can change. This extreme situation has us quarantining ourselves from others and working remotely. Our firm is already used to working out of my home. We have a separate studio in the house that is designated to the business, which works really well for us.

We’re big believers that your work environment can affect your overall productivity. You’ll hear a myriad of different opinions on what matters and what doesn’t when working from home – and it’s really up to you to decide how you work best. I’m going to offer a few of my favorite tips, as my home has been my office for the last 4 years. If you aren’t commonly working from home, your office may not be a designated room – it may be your kitchen table. So adapt these ideas to fit what you need from your space.

Make your bed each morning – and don’t work from it. I don’t subscribe to the idea that making your bed is a way to “check something off your list first thing in the morning” – but I do think that making your bed (or tidying up your home in general) keeps your mind clear for the tasks ahead. Don’t work from your bed – and if you’re in bed because you’re sick, you shouldn’t be working.

Get dressed, but be comfortable. It helps, when you hop out of bed in the morning, to get changed into a fresh set of clothes. No one feels their best when wearing pajamas. In my opinion, if you aren’t seeing clients or coworkers (which is kinda the point right now), yoga pants are just fine. To go along with this sentiment – brush your teeth and wash your face! It seems simple, until it isn’t and you’re an hour into the workday with a mouth just as gross as when you woke up.

Have all of your essentials readily available. Don’t waste time digging in junk drawers for highlighters or scouring the house for your laptop charger. Take a few moments to grab all of your necessities and house them in the location in which you’ll be working. This tip is sure to keep you focused and productive.

A private residence in Philadelphia, PA. For use by Michelle Gage Interiors only Please credit: Rebecca McAlpin when applicable Copyright 2019 Rebecca McAlpin. All Rights Reserved.

Have designated start and end times. This is a BIG one that took a few years for me to fully put into practice. Before my husband joined the business, I would work my schedule around his. When he left in the morning, I went “into the office.” Mind you, he had a longer day AND a 2 hour round-trip commute, so I would burn myself out by working all of those extra hours. Not smart. Set work hours for yourself and stick to them to gain some consistency.

Light a candle. Ahh, the perks of working from home! I prefer a nice peach scent in the springtime. There’s something about the crisp, fresh aroma that keeps me focused. In an open office setting, candles would be forbidden – so take advantage of the fact that this is your domaine and stock up on your favorites.

Minimize distractions during the day. If possible, limit your interactions with social media. There’s mixed reviews on TV – whether it does you a disservice or is nice for background noise (I’m for the former). Do what’s right for you, but personally podcasts are the poison I pick. I love educating myself on all things design and business – and enjoy multi-tasking.

Private residence in Villanova, PA. For use by Michelle Cage Interiors ONLY Please credit: Rebecca McAlpin when applicable Copyright 2018 Rebecca McAlpin. All Rights Reserved.

Take a snack break. Another perk for ya! Personally, I find 3PM to be a great time to wander into the kitchen and get a little pick me up – no Starbucks needed. Be sure to keep yourself hydrated as well. While you’re at it, get the blood flowing with some simple stretching.

Let a closed door carry significance. I symbolically close my office door each night, knowing I won’t be returning until the morning. If you’re working from a kitchen or coffee table, let your closed laptop screen carry the same weight. Shut it down when work is done for the day.

Make evening plans. This can give you something to look forward to at the end of a long day – and can help to separate work from pleasure. Now, clearly, this isn’t the time to make plans that require leaving your house – but that doesn’t mean you can’t schedule some time with yourself. If you’re used to leaving the house at 6PM for yoga (I know I am), take a class online. Set time aside to catch up on your favorite TV show. FaceTime a friend. Read a book. Do whatever you always wished you had the time for – my point is, plan it in advance so that your brain begins to separate work from home life.

And – as a little bonus – if you’re working from home with a partner, you’re going to need a few more additional tips that keep your inner harmony in check. Get some good ones in this article I wrote for No excuse if your space is small. If you’re looking for additional ideas on how to transform the look of your space, check out our latest feature in Philly Mag.

In these uncertain times, it is a luxury to be able to work from home. We recognize that not everyone is able to do their job remotely and are grateful that some of our business practices can be adapted to fit these trying times. We are also aware that the news is covering this topic heavily and it’s okay to need a break from the noise from time to time. Do your part to stay informed, but close your computer if it all starts to feel like too much. Shut it out temporarily if needed. In an attempt to have some sense of normalcy and light, we have a beautiful bedroom that we’ll be revealing later this week. Be well, friends. We are truly grateful for your continued support. xx

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