This is a guest post from our content manager, Korilynn.
Facts: An efficient workspace is more than just moving some papers and keeping your desk tidy.
In my role as a Content Manager for Express Writers, I juggle multiple tasks, manage a busy team of writers and editors, and entertain a three-year-old who is at home with me every day too.
There’s no way I could pull off my daily to-do list without implementing a few home office optimization techniques.
I am an organizational freak of sorts. Papers have a place, my desk cannot have a speck of dust, or it will annoy me until I whip out the Pledge and remove it.
I also have a checklist for just about anything and everything.
By staying so organized, I’m more efficient and productive at work, and I still get to enjoy the number one benefit of working from home: flexibility.
When you’re not glued to your computer working tirelessly to meet deadlines that are around the corner, life is so much easier. You don’t have to be OCD organized either. In my blog, I’m sharing my best tips with you so you can learn how to implement some home office optimization to maximize your productivity — and have more successful, much-needed “you” time.
10 Home Office Optimization Tricks to Implement for Maximum Efficiency
Home office optimization starts with your desk.
Your home desk setup is critical because this is your productivity hub. Once you sit down here, you are in “work” mode. Even if you don’t have a dedicated office, you can optimize using my tips for the best productivity setup regardless of where you are in the home.
I bought a large executive home office desk to fit my three monitors, but also have room for writing notes, paperwork off to the side, and everything else I need. I even have hidden sliders off to the side that I can pull out for those days my desk space isn’t enough (or if I need to place my Pumpkin Spice Latte somewhere safe).
Aside from buying a desk, you need to know how to design an office that focuses on how you work best. What works for me might not work for another, but you can use my home office ideas as a jumping-off point for your workspace. To get started, consider these essentials for your perfect home office, and see what works for your style and budget.Working at home is great. But sometimes, juggling those career and family-related tasks can get you crazy. Stay productive with these 10 home office optimization tips from our content manager, Korilynn! Click To Tweet
Tip #1: Get a Great Computer (My PC, aka The Blue Beast)
My PC was custom-built, because most ready-to-buy PCs do not meet my needs, plus I wanted the ability to run three monitors without my computer ever having an issue. It is quite a monster – almost as tall as my desk. However, it runs quietly, and all three of my monitors works flawlessly on it.
It has a bright blue light effect, which glows and at night looks like a big blue orb in my office; hence the name. I don’t dare lift it after we installed it either – takes two people to lift and move it.
I currently run:
- Intel Core i7 Extreme
- 32GB of RAM
- Windows 10 64-Bit
- Corsair Hydro Series Liquid Cooling
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080Ti
There’s plenty more in there making the Blue Beast run, but those are the primary components.
Do you have to go as crazy with your system? No, but I recommend more than one monitor. With three, I can lay out my work without having to manage multiple windows or tabs in Chrome, and I have seen a drastic improvement going from a single monitor to three.
Before I had three monitors, I had two. I initially swapped to two monitors after reading a study that adding a second monitory could increase productivity by 20 to 30 percent. While skeptical at first, once I added the second monitor, I was hooked – and I dare say my productivity spiked higher than 30 percent.
Tip #2: Try a Mechanical Keyboard: The Only Real Way to Type
When it comes to keyboards, I love mechanical ones. Not only are they easy to work on, but the sound is quite soothing. They have so many cute options today – including ones that mimic typewriters. I love to buy those, as I am obsessed with typewriters and their sound.
Even better, mechanical keyboards last way longer than rubber keyboards. If a key stops working, buy a new switch, replace, and off you go. Most keyboards come with a few extra switches too.
I recently swapped to the Cherry MX Silent from Corsair because my old mechanicals was too loud for early morning work sessions – didn’t want to wake everyone in the house as I crazily typed away.
With mechanicals, you almost feel as though you are working harder when your keyboard is clicking away like crazy. Sure, it annoys everyone around, but it gets you in the zone — so don’t mind anyone who tells you otherwise. Just show them your checklist when everything is marked “done.” ✅
Tip #3: Consider a Treadmill Desk for a Change of Pace (Literally)
It is hard to sit at your desk all day, and it isn’t healthy either. Harvard Medical School mentions sitting for too many hours can increase your risk of diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and even deep-vein thrombosis.
I use a treadmill desk about once every other day. Don’t buy an actual treadmill desk. What I did was purchase a regular treadmill (so I can enjoy all the great features) and created a makeshift board across it that holds my laptop when I want to get in some steps while typing. Not only does it keep me healthy but makes sure I annihilate anyone I’m competing in Fitbit challenges for that week too.
The research is out on whether treadmill desks increase productivity, but it is still a functional home office optimization tip to consider. Just be prepared – it takes time to get used to walking and typing at the same time.
Tip #4: Clean Your Workspace – Clutter Is the Enemy
You don’t have to be a clean freak to notice that clutter on your desk creates a stressful working environment. One home office optimization tip you can’t skip is decluttering your workspace. Try to reduce the clutter by putting pens in a single pen holder, keeping your notes and paperwork in neat piles, and removing anything unnecessary to your work from your desk. Organize your drawers, so everything you need is within reach, but not taking up real estate on your desk surface.Quick home office optimization tips from our content manager: get a great computer that allows you to work flawlessly (and open +20 tabs), try using a mechanical keyboard, and make sure your desk is clean! Read more in this post. Click To Tweet
Tip #5: Have Ready-to-Go Saved Work Tabs on Chrome
As a Content Manager, on an average day, I need three Chrome windows open and a total of 22 tabs. Finding and opening each of those tabs manually each day is a waste of time, and this is by far one of the easiest ways to optimize your home office.
I created pre-set tab categories by monitor, in the order I want them to open on my Chrome window, and all I need to do is open with one click in the browser each morning – taking a task that usually was 5 minutes of searching down to under 60 seconds.
Tip #6: Create a To-Do List and Track Projects in Asana (or Similar)
I’m a big to-do list junkie, and it is a home office optimization task you cannot skip if you want to get things done. I use a standard paper planner for regular to-do’s around the house in one color, and another for work-related tasks.
For bigger jobs and projects, I use Asana to organize it all. I also put all of my daily tasks in Asana – there’s so many, I’d forget without a daily checklist.
Asana has a great feature that allows a task to auto-repeat every set number of days/hours after you hit the checkmark.
So, for daily tasks, I have it repeat every 24 hours. When I hit the checkmark, it automatically reappears on tomorrow’s to-do list.
Tip #7: Use Focus Timers to Encourage Breaks and Maximize Productivity
Sitting at your desk for hours on end, focusing on a single project, makes you think you’re productive, but in reality, you’re wasting more time than necessary, which brings me to the next must on your home office optimization to-do list.
Your brain isn’t designed to focus for hours. Instead, you need small breaks every 15-20 minutes to refresh. After three 15 to 20-minute sessions, you should take one longer break to recharge.
The Pomodoro Technique, which is what this practice is named as, was created in the 1980s. The Pomodoro Technique works differently from how I like to break up my work but is a great place to start if you’ve never done a focus timer. In this technique, you do a 25-minute session, then break for 5 minutes. After you do four 25-minute sessions, you take a 15 to 20-minute break.
You can use an ordinary kitchen timer, but I have installed an app on my PC known as Focus10. You can customize how many work sessions you do, the time limit for each, and even the break amounts.
If you are a PC user, you can find Focus10 in the Microsoft Store under apps or search “Focus10” and the app will appear.
Microsoft Store has a few other timer choices, but after trying a few, Focus10 is my favorite. It is incredibly user-friendly, free, and simplified. Others were cumbersome and way too busy. I just wanted a timer that I can program and move on.Use your time wisely by listing down your to-dos on a planner or programs like Asana for easier tracking. Use focus timers too to encourage breaks and maximize your productivity. ⏲️ Know more home optimizations tips here! Click To Tweet
Tip #8: Utilize Gmail’s Built-In Email Organization Tools
Gmail is not user-friendly. They have so many features, but they make it impossible to find them at times. Only by accident did I stumble across labels and color-coding inside my Gmail. Who knows how long this little gem was there!
Mess around with your labels and filters, so that you have emails automatically deposit into specific categories. You can even have them skip the inbox and go into the category folder.
You can organize your desk, and you can follow every home office optimization idea I give you, but one you also should include is your inbox. When you’re done for the day, that bad boy should be empty. Every email pushed into its place, and if you want to go crazy, add color-coding.
Main categories have one color, subcategories another. That way when it shows in my inbox, thanks to the nifty labeling rules I’ve set, it automatically has a color, and I know what is important and what can wait until after coffee hour.
Tip #9: Start the Day with a Brain Dump
I cannot focus on work if I have thoughts running through my head. I often tell people to picture a hamster on his wheel running around like mad because that is my brain daily.
To tame the hamster and at least get him to take a nap while I work, I do a morning brain dump. While this might not specifically organize your office, having a mind ready to work is critical. With all the home office optimization in the world, when your brain is somewhere else, you’re not productive.
I sit down before I log in for the day, take out my journal and write. What do I write? Literally everything.
I will run on about how the kids have soccer that day, or how I really want to repaint my kitchen. Anything that is running through my brain, making that hamster wheel turn, gets written down, off my chest, and then my mind feels free and ready to tackle the day.
Tip #10: Consider Your Existing Home Office Design Layout – and How to Improve It
Your home office should be comfortable and operational for flawless home office optimization.
A good-sized desk is a great start, and if you have a dedicated space in your home for an office, even better. When I first started working from home, my office was in my living room. So, I’ve been there too.
Regardless of where, or how much space you have, you can make your workspace more efficient and comfortable by moving things around and creating “stations” for your work.
My current office, for example, seconds as my craft room. However, all crafts and work are separate. One side of my office is my dedicated craft area, with its own desk and all craft supplies stored neatly on shelves.
The other side of my office is the “work” area. Here you have my desk, my chair, printer station, and filing cabinets. When I’m on this side of my office, I’m in work mode. When I’m on the craft side, I’m in relaxation mode.
Organize your home office to what works for you. If you have a dedicated office without a craft room, then you can space things out more.
Just make sure you get plenty of natural light. The more exposure you have to natural sunlight, the better you will feel (health-wise), but also, the more productive you will be each day, according to Cornell University.
Now You Have the Home Office Optimization Tips You Need to Improve Your Game
Whether you are a freelancer working from home, a virtual assistant, or a content manager thriving on PSLs, the more optimization you do for your home office environment, the more productive you’ll be each day.
Getting your job done is rewarding, but getting it done quickly and efficiently even more so. After all, would you rather have the afternoon to get outside for fresh air, or stay stuck at your desk because you fell behind?
Now that I’ve armed you with what works for me, the next step is for you to go out and find what works best for you.