The Simple Guide to Setting Up Your Home Office for Maximum Productivity

Working from home can be amazing.

There’s no commute, no business attire required, and no people to distract you (unless the kids or your partner are home, too!).

However, it’s still important to optimize your workspace for productivity—because while you may not have people around you, you likely have a ton of other distractions and disruptions that keep you from getting stuff done.

So in this post, I’m going to show you exactly how to set up your home office for productivity. I’ll also highlight some products that can help. But don’t be limited by the ones I suggest…feel free to get creative and do some DIY!

Setting Up Your Home Office for Productivity

The following six office organization tips for setting up your home office will help increase productivity, avoid distractions, and have a beautiful, functional workspace…all at the same time!

1. Keep Your (Computer) Desktop Organized

Raise your hand if you have a messy, cluttered computer desktop!

It’s easy for it to become a place where files and folders go to die…or at least to be perpetually forgotten.  And while you put those files on your desktop so you could find them with ease, that's not working either because there's too much stuff.

The bigger issue with digital desktop clutter, however, is that it eats away at your computer memory and slows it down.  I don't know about you, but a slow computer drives me insane!

That’s why I love this idea from Laura at I Heart Planners. She recommends creating a series of boxes on your desktop for different types of files: for instance, work projects, photos, frequently used, and personal projects.

It's a great concept.  But I suggest using it a little differently.

Create the following categories:

  • Screenshots
  • To be filed
  • Photos
  • Using now

As you add items to your desktop, move them into the appropriate boxes. This will make them easier to find.

Then, at the end of the week, move the items off of your desktop and into their appropriate folders.

This trick will help you keep the desktop clutter to a minimum while creating the habit of keeping more organized folders on your computer's filing system.

2. Keep Your (Literal) Desktop Organized

As busy entrepreneurs, it’s easy to let our desks get cluttered and even totally out of control. Even neat little piles equal clutter.

And while you can argue that you've got organized chaos going on over there, clutter can affect your

  • Ability to focus
  • Level of anxiety
  • Time management
  • Productiveness
  • Stress levels
  • and more!

And who wants that?! A little bit of organization can boost your productivity. In other words, you'll be more effective AND efficient. A few simple tweaks to minimize the mess will do the trick.

One way to keep things a little more organized is to add vertical storage. Since there’s only such much surface area you can use on a desk, building up can be just the right solution!

I love this adjustable wooden desktop organizer.  It adds additional shelving and storage space while still leaving lots of room for your computer, papers, and of course, your coffee.

3. Make It Crystal Clear When You Can (and Can’t) Be Disturbed

As someone who works from home, I understand how frustrating it is to be disturbed in the middle of an important Zoom call or train of thought!  Over the years, I've learned that telling the other people in my house what I'm up to and when helps reduce the number of interruptions.

Unfortunately, just because I've let my family know that I'm recording a training at 10 AM doesn't always mean they'll remember.  This is where signage comes in handy!

To ensure everyone in your home knows when it’s okay to knock—and when it’s not—try using do not disturb signs like the ones above.

I actually have a selection of Post-It Notes that say things like:

  • In a Meeting
  • Recording
  • Solving the World's Problems
  • Come On In
  • Do Not Disturb (I'm Disturbed Enough Already)

It serves as a gentle reminder even after I've communicated verbally. And it also helps avoid unnecessary conflicts. Try making your own signage and see how it works out.

4. Keep Your Files Close at Hand

While a file cabinet is great for long-term storage, having a smaller, more accessible file box means you can keep frequently used files close at hand.

This saves you valuable time as it keeps you from getting distracted on the way to the filing cabinet and helps keep clutter to a minimum. Take it out when you need it. Put it away as soon as you're done.

I use a similar system to keep client files nearby. I find that I never misplace anything when I use this method.

When I no longer need to access those files, I transfer them to my long-term storage.   This way all of my important stuff is in one central location and I never have to guess where it is.

5. Reduce Noise Distractions.

While you won’t have colleagues laughing it up by the water cooler, you may have to contend with traffic noise, fighting children, and barking dogs.

When setting up your home office, reduce these distracting noises by using a white noise machine like the one above. It will mask annoying noises with your choice of sound, including 10 different fan sounds, pink noise, brown noise, or of course, white noise!

6. Stay On Task with A Pomodoro Timer.

I’ve written about the Pomodoro Technique in the past, but here it is in a nutshell: Increase productivity and reduce distractions by working in 25-minute segments. After each segment, take a 5-minute break, and after 4 segments, take a longer break.

I’ve written about the Pomodoro Technique in the past, but here it is in a nutshell: Increase productivity and reduce distractions by working in 25-minute segments. After each segment, take a 5-minute break, and after 4 segments, take a longer break.Click To Tweet

It’s such a simple technique, but one that can really keep you focused on the task at hand. Use a Pomodoro timer like the one above,  or use a free online app like the Pomodoro Tracker or the PomoDoneApp.

I trust this post has given you some good tips for how to set up your home office for productivity. If you’re looking for more productivity and organization strategies, check out these helpful posts

5 Organization Tips for Overwhelmed Small Business Owners

Streamlining Your Business: 5 Things to Do Today to Tame the Daily Chaos

Which of the strategies above are you going try out? Let me know in the comments below!

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