Setting up a good home office

I stopped writing lockdown related posts late last year because they were becoming less unconventional and more every day life, and one thing I’ve never wanted this blog to be was a diary. That’s not to say though that lockdown won’t continue to influence a lot of my posts, because, let’s be honest it’s not like we can go anywhere at the moment and my home office is something I get asked about a bit.

Like most people I’m working from home and have been since 23rd March 2020. In the beginning me and Dave were both sharing the dining room table because we had no idea how long it would last and had both been told by our respective employers it would be six weeks max. It looked like this and all felt a little temporary:

As time moved on though days became weeks and weeks became months and we were still working from the dining room table. My aged back was starting to give, so when my office emailed asking if I wanted any office furniture sent home. I jumped at the chance to sit on something a little more comfortable for 8 hours a day. So that, paired with the lovely Ikea desk my friend Kelly gave me after she upgraded to a standing desk meant I was finally able to have something a little more permanent. 

We’re extremely lucky to be able to convert two spare bedrooms into offices for ourselves. We did toy with the idea of sharing an office, after all, we were both used to working in open plan space pre lockdown. But as it turns out I have a volume button that’s permanently stuck on 11 whilst on a call and Dave turns into Dave Brent when at work, we figured it would probably be better to have our own space.

I never realised until we set it up, how much having a proper office would change my productivity. It felt like I was at work, so I acted more like I was at work, rather than just operating from my dining room table. After a  promotion in August and lots of new things to learn, I soon realised that writing a to do list in my notebook wasn’t cutting it anymore. As soon as I turned the page to make more notes, that to do list was gone, and I’d lost track of what I had going on. Once I created a smart will with washy tape and some post it notes, my to do list is now permanently in front of me. Whether it’s a big project or just a reminder to email someone, it all goes on the wall and doesn’t come down until it’s done. That means even on my lowest most unproductive days, there’ s usually always some quick wins I can pull down and do to make myself feel better.

One of the best things about having an office at home, is that it allows you to be way more creative than it would in a office and you’re able to personalise things more. It’s no accident that my Backstreet Boys discography picture appears behind me in every video call. That would never be allowed in an office! It’s you’re looking for some inspiration to jazz up your Teams backgrounds, or indeed your own office wall like mine, I’ve found this fancy fonts collection really useful! 

Come the winter months, you know, deep dark winter when it never actually seems to get light? I very soon realised that the light in our spare bedroom wasn’t really cutting it so I invested on a desk lamp. Not only did it help with the annual SAD syndrome I always suffer from, but it acted as a beauty light so I looked less grotesque on MS Teams calls. Win/win!

I found keeping my office tidy essential to my working from home productivity (easier said than done but I do try hard!) Which believe me, tastes like vinegar coming out my mouth. I have the attention span of a gnat most days so if the room is untidy, that gives me perfect excuse to procrastinate instead of concentrating on the job in hand. If I take half an hour on a Friday evening between clocking off and drinking wine to have a quick tidy up and give everything a spray with Fabulosa, not only does it make the office look and smell nice and fresh on Monday morning but it helps me switch off to. Which, when your commute to the living room is less that 20 seconds, makes a big difference. 

I know that not everyone has the luxury of space so aren’t able to have masses of room to transform into an office, and the other side of the picture below is the clothes horse of washing and a pile of clothes ready to be put away so it’s not the complete picture of corporate perfection. It’s all about working with the space that you have and having little things that work for you. 

Here’s a little snapshot of how I’ve created a home office environment that works well for me (although in the interest of full transparency, it never normally this tidy)

  1. Pithy notebook with hilarious caption on the front
  2. Screen saver of 90s hunks
  3. Inspirational quote from an 80s teen movie
  4. Desk tamp for the winter/ring light that makes you look better on MS Teams calls
  5. Smart wall a.k.a the Worry Board. Essentially my ‘to do’ list which takes up almost an entire wall to make me feel important and needed
  6. Favourite mug containing the ‘Kennedy package’ of coffee
  7. Chillys water bottle for the odd occasion I want to surprise my live
  8. Wall art to act as an ‘interesting’ background to video calls. In this case is the Backstreet Boys discography because, as Dave says, ‘if they’re nailed to the wall I don’t have to listen to them’
  9. Childhood blanket for when I get cold, hormonal, or generally just feeling down in the dumps

 

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