How to make your home office work for you

My Sacred Space blog

The past year has taught us many lessons, and among those is the need for our homes to promote positive mental health. But the pandemic has forced many of us to convert our sanctuaries into offices, and work/life balance seems even more elusive.

But I believe there are things we can do to create a harmonious home-office environment.
Here are my top 5 tips:

1) Declutter your workspace.
We’ve all been there, working at the kitchen table with a pile of household bills to our left, and our lunch leftovers to the right. Clutter is incredibly distracting and clearing it is one of the best ways to unblock your mind.

Start by relocating anything in your line of view that does not relate to work. If you’re pushed for space, I suggest purchasing stackable trays for paperwork and baskets for loose, miscellaneous items.

Don’t forget to clean the surface before you commence working – a friend of mine once said that a simple coffee stain on her desk was enough to distract her! This may eat into five minutes of your working day, but you’ll be surprised at what a quick tidy up can do for your productivity.

2) Tap into your senses.
This is a great way to engage our brains for the task ahead. Something as simple as lighting a candle can completely change our energy, not to mention boost our mood.

Try choosing scents that evoke the energy required for each task; invigorating Lemongrass increases concentration, and the soothing notes of Ylang-ylang are great for shaking off the workday.

3) Take regular breaks.
It can be difficult to step away from your job when you work from home, but breaks are an absolute must to maximise concentration and minimise overwhelm.

Our brains can usually focus at peak level for a maximum of 90 minutes, so try scheduling regular short intervals where you allow yourself to pause and reconnect with the present moment.

As someone who has experienced overwhelm, I can’t reinforce the importance of this enough.

4) Bring the outside, inside.
Plants have been proven to reduce stress and aid concentration through their “biophilic effect” i.e., the sensory experience of nature. We breathe new energy into our being by adding greenery to our workspaces.

Struggling with noise-related distractions? Recent studies show that their dense foliage absorbs background noise, so our little green friends do much more than just look pretty.

Cacti, Snake plants and Aloe Vera are great low-maintenance options to liven up your space.

5) Closing rituals.
Jumping straight from work into our evening duties is likely to exacerbate a feeling of imbalance. But a clear break can do wonders for our mental health.

To do this, I like to create rituals which signal to my brain that down-time has begun.

Simply changing your clothes after work can be enough to press the reset button. And if you really want to begin anew, a shower is a great way to symbolically wash off the day’s stresses.

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Nichola Hayler

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