Considering working from home? Do you work from home already and experiencing difficulty getting things done? A cluttered workspace is a non-productive creative space.
Working from home has many benefits, but for the entrepreneur with ADHD tendencies, the day-to-day challenges may wreak havoc. If you are a new entrepreneur with big dreams of operating a business, you will likely have to start small, perhaps a space on the corner of your dining room table, a converted bedroom, or a small basement office. That’s great – everybody has to start somewhere!
While working from home offers the freedom of a calm and quiet working environment while minimizing interruptions from colleagues and other outside sources, it can be difficult to stay on task. Establishing your special kind of order and eliminating visual distraction will maximize focus. The following tips and considerations are for any size of home office.
Begin by identifying the surroundings which support your focus. For many, environmental sensitivities (including light, noise, temperature, colour, and scent) contribute to comfort and productivity.
For example, if external noise is bothersome, consider where you position your desk (ideally, in a low-traffic area), or consider purchasing earplugs or higher-end, noise-cancelling headphones (The built-in microphone feature is perfect for taking calls from customers, too!).
If you live by the blue light of your screen devices, consider downloading an app such as, Twilight or F.lux that adjusts your screen’s colour filter throughout the day. These apps can minimize eye strain and support your Circadian Rhythm, allowing you to get adequate sleep for the busy day ahead.
Space and Flow
Consider function when planning your workspace. Molehills become mountains when you deal with them on a daily basis. Check your proposed space: Are there enough power outlets? Is there good WiFi connectivity on the devices you plan to use? Are you always tripping over cables? Consider the placement of your furniture and office equipment for the least amount of ongoing frustration which is an energy drain.
Nothing is more distracting than being uncomfortable. Hunching over your laptop from the couch might seem reasonable at first, but this is not advisable over the long-term. Choose ergonomic office furniture that is intended to be used for eight plus hours per day. This helps avoid uncomfortable pressure points. Set up your workstation ensuring you can work comfortably with good posture. After all, you’ll be spending a lot of time there! Aside from comfort, proper ergonomic considerations help prevent repetitive strain injuries, which can seriously hamper your productivity in the long term. For more information on ergonomics, see WorkSafe BC’s guide, How to Make Your Computer Workstation Fit You.
Experiencing a slump at 2:00 in the afternoon? This is where you can get creative (it’s your office, after all). Energy levels change throughout the day, and many people with ADHD benefit from movement to stay focused. Luckily, there are increasing options on the market. Depending on the type of work you do, and your learning style preferences, experiment with standing, seated, or convertible workstations as alternative options. An exercise ball used as a seat offers relief for tight hip flexors.
Reduce Visual Clutter
Visual clutter creates sensory overload, quickly! Chip away at these distractions by selecting closable storage cabinets or hutches (with doors), and proper shelving. Purchase bins with lids for your office supplies, but don’t forget to label them! Consider living with a little less stuff.
It is important to set up boundaries between your work and living space to visually cue you to ‘unplug’. Boundaries improve your focus and curb distractions which may lead you to do crazy things, such as, household chores instead of work. Is your desk in direct line of sight from a pile of dirty dishes on the kitchen counter? Conversely, are you tempted to work after the hours you had originally set up? Is it obvious to others in your household when you are busy working? If your workspace doesn’t have a door you can close, establish a visual cue with your co-habitants, such as wearing your noise-cancelling headphones.
Taking the time necessary to evaluate and plan the setup of your home office – whether a small or multi-functional space – will build in buffers against distractions and aid in achieving success.
Now that you’ve set up your new office, it’s time to get to work. Part two of our series on working from home will focus on building effective work habits.
Michelle Intrepidi is an Executive Function Coach, as well as lead coach at Intrepidi Coaching And Training.
Nancy Owens is a professional organizer serving Manitoba and Alberta. She can be reached at The Organizing Specialist.