We are learning to live, study and work in new ways. We are doing our best to create a “new normal” environment at home that is conducive to productive work. Likewise, families that have home-schooled their children have experimented with various setups to nurture meaningful learning. Now many of these individuals are sharing their good experiences, challenges and effective tips to
make work and study spaces at home.
One word of advice – Involve everyone living in the house in this organizational quest for a functional home office
space. Their ideas may be useful, and at the very least, it’s a good reminder to them that your work is important, even
when it’s done from home. IMPORTANT: Plan your space strategically. Be deliberate about the spaces you chose to
work and study because some areas may be better for one, but not for the other activity.
Let’s look at how to create (or find) a study or work spot that lets you get in, do your best work, and then get back to relax and have fun in your own home. Let’s examine the different types of study / work spaces, the do’s and don’ts of study / work space creation, and the key
ideas to make sure your study space does what it should: help you study or work better.
Finally, I’ll share some links with examples of study spaces that put these ideas into action. Because this is a pretty extensive topic, I’ve broken it up into few sections for easy navigation. Keeping it Simple – Think Vertical – Make the walls work for you – Divide work/study space from personal space – Storage is Important – Avoid Distractions – Easy Access to Everything – Attention to the Light – Adjust the Temperature
Creating a Work or Study Space
Keeping it Simple:
If you’re not careful, your home office workspace can go from a place that makes you feel serene, productive, and on top of your
to-do list to a complete and total wasteland of disorganization.
A valuable tip: Your home workspace homework assignment: Use your desktop to hold only what you truly need when you’re
working or studying. Find storage space for the other possessions you want to keep, and recycle, donate, or trash the rest.
When faced with limited space and a multi-function room, unify the space with neutral colors, become minimalist (use storage
containers, an enclosed vertical cabinet, and closets to store the “additional stuff” for now so you can concentrate on your work.
A valuable tip: Think about how to take your storage vertical. Corkboards are a great way to make room for pinning papers
without taking up much desk space.
Make the Walls Work for You:
Install shelves, pretty clipboards, corkboards, white board with decorative borders, anything that can take most of the paperwork
out of your desk and get organized in categories on your walls where you can see it clearly and get to complete tasks quicker.
A valuable tip: Opt for unconventional and highly functional storage solutions like clipboards, which allow you to quickly change
what’s being featured on the wall.
Divide Work / Study Space from Personal Space: Use a nice curtain (maybe textured fabric) or a divider to separate your
personal from the study / work space. If nothing else, use plants / flowers and / or vertical screen panels to separate your
Storage is Important: Use space strategically to store items in categories that will make your work or study much easier. For
example- think if you can place the printer and a filing system on top of a file cabinet instead of having an extra table for it. Think
about adding a shelf on the wall to hold categorized work projects or study materials in color-coded binders. Add a decorative
piece to it to make the space more attractive.
Now that we’ve covered important aspects of space creation, let’s talk about how to make the space effective to work or
study. In order to create an effective study environment, I suggest these four steps;
1. Remove all distractions.
2. Have easy access to everything you need before you start.
3. Experiment with lighting.
4. Adjust your study space to the ideal temperature.
As in so many areas of life, it’s useful to start with what to leave out and then add
things from there. Naturally, what puts you in a studious mood will differ from
person to person, but here are some things you should probably avoid in your study
• Video games – “a complete No-No”
• Frequent phone interruptions – Build time in the daily schedule for work or
study related calls. Personal calls can wait until your daily work or study schedule
• Lots of open tabs (I’m an offender here – trying to rehabilitate myself – Lol)
• Multiple monitors unless it’s really imperative to your work or study research.
• Messy food/drinks/junk food. Put yourself in a schedule for meals and snacks,
otherwise you will balloon and won’t fit in your clothes within a month!!
• Other people – make time in your daily schedule to interact with others in the
house, make personal calls or take a social media break. I take 1-2 per day during
my tea / coffee breaks.
The goal is to maximize the attention you can devote to your tasks
while minimizing the amount of effort necessary to do so. You can’t do that if the
space is full of distractions.
2. Have Easy Access to Everything You Need Before You Start
Now that we’ve gone over what to leave out, let’s get to what to include. This is a long list, and much of it depends on your
To help you out, I’ve divided the list into two sections: essential and optional items.
• Comfortable chair or standing desk. Posture is important to avoid back and neck pain. Move every hour.
• Your computer, if necessary.
• Textbooks or e-reader with relevant books loaded.- Post-It Notes -Index cards. – Pad of paper to write down distracting
thoughts. Don’t let these thoughts distract you. Color-Code your projects. It helps your memory remember specific
items and makes it easier to find among your storage spaces.
• Plenty of writing utensils appropriate for the projects.
• Calculator or other subject specific tools as necessary.
• Whiteboard and dry erase markers
• Healthy snacks that don’t make a mess (nuts, banana, granola bar, carrots, dried fruit, etc). They help keep your blood
sugar up, ensuring that you can stay alert longer. REMEMBER to drink water throughout the day.
• Inspiring decorations – a low maintenance plant or a cool poster. I personally have couple of notes from my kids.
• Paper calendar. This is way more helpful than you might think. For example, when you’re writing an essay and need to
check the date without distracting yourself by going on Google or looking at your phone.
• Headphones. Great for blocking out distractions wherever you are.
3. Pay Attention to Lighting
I don’t know about you, but sunlight tends to energize me and get me excited.
According to a German study that looked at the effects of color temperature and brightness on the productivity of students at the
Cologne University of Applied Sciences, researchers found that the students were more creative under warm light (3000k), yet
concentrated better under cold light (6000k).
To put this into action, try to study or work near a window, so you have some natural light coming in.
Another tip is to experiment with different brightness levels and color temperatures until you find something that works well
for you. And no, you don’t have to buy a gazillion lightbulbs from the hardware store to figure out what works best for you (like I did
– shame on me)— you can just get a lamp with a dimmer and play with the switch.
4. Adjust Your Space to the Ideal Temperature
Not only can an environment that’s too hot or cold cause you to be consciously distracted, but it can also cause you to make more
mistakes in your work unconsciously.
Researchers at the University of Helsinki and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory reviewed several studies on how
temperature affects office worker productivity. They found that, on average, productivity is highest in a temperature range
between 72°F and 77°F (22°C and 25°C). Below or above that range, errors increase.
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Published with ideas and other from Houzz.com, a platform for home remodeling and design, bringing homeowners and home
professionals together in a uniquely visual community.
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