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Tips for a Totally Zen Home Office—Even If You Only Have a Corner

posted on August 12, 2020 | by Alyssa Abel

Tips for a Totally Zen Home Office—Even If You Only Have a Corner

Maybe you thought you’d be back in the office full-time by now, but the modern career world has changed — and chances are we’ll be doing much more remote work in the future. If you need to make your work-from-home setup more permanent, you owe it to yourself and your career to create a comfortable and convenient space to get you in your work zen.

How can you design a work-from-home office space that invites you to spend productive hours furthering your career? Here are eight ideas for creating a motivating nook, no matter how limited your makeshift office size.

1. Choose a Well-Lit Area

The lighting in your space will impact your mood and productivity. The National Institutes for Mental Health traced brain pathways and discovered a previously unknown nucleus in your thalamus that processes the input from your retinas. This brain region also regulates your emotional responses and sends these signals to other areas of your body.

If possible, choose an area under a window for natural light. If you rent and can’t make modifications, invest in an inexpensive therapy lamp, such as those used to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder, to give the illusion of sunshine. Stay away from overhead fluorescents that might trigger migraines.

2. Get Organized — And Comfortable

Starting your workday off on the right foot means making sure everything is organized and in a convenient place — so you can access what you need at the right times and not take too many breaks.

In addition to laying out your work supplies and keeping any files or tech on-hand, organizing your space also means making sure you have everything you need to stay comfortable. If you constantly hop up for a cup of tea, keep an electric kettle on your desk. If you get chilly, make sure to leave a blanket or sweater hanging from your desk chair. You might not think it’s a big deal, but staying comfortable directly impacts your productivity at home.

3. Get Ergonomic

You don’t have to spend hundreds on an elaborate desk — but make sure the one you have is comfy for your body. If your lower back gets sore from sitting for long periods, one 2018 study suggests you can reduce your pain by 50 percent by using a variable-height or standing desk. If funds are a little tight, you can stack inexpensive milk crates or moving boxes, perhaps painting them or layering colorful printed fabrics on top.

Other options for comfort include sitting on an inflatable exercise ball to engage your core and improve your posture. You can also find ergonomic chairs custom-fit to your body, although this option can be pricey.

4. Include Room to Stretch

Research from Organizations in Motion piloted a three-month program to investigate the correlation between movement and productivity. Of the 239 who responded to an exit survey, 53% increased their physical activity levels and 42% reported heightened powers of concentration.

Your brain needs blood flow to keep your neurons firing on all cylinders. Make a little space in your home office or around your desk to stand up periodically and do a Sun Salutation or two to keep moving.

5. Ban Distracting Electronics

It takes only seconds to look at your phone, but if you work in a field that requires you to build up concentration, that momentary distraction can cost you several minutes of focus. 

To maximize your concentration ability, silence your cell. Create a home office setup that lets you lock it in a drawer if you can’t resist the urge to check your notifications — or keep it in another area altogether.

6. Create a Soothing Soundscape

According to some researchers, specific frequencies can help alleviate chronic pain and increase your focus ability. Consider playing relaxing solfeggio frequencies or binaural beats while you work to amplify your mental powers.

7. Consider Aromatherapy

Doctors believe aromatherapy works by stimulating scent receptors in your nose, sending messages to your nerves through your limbic system. When designing your work-from-home space, include a cute desktop or plugin diffuser. Fragrances like lavender and lemon relax you, while bitter orange and jasmine invigorate the senses. If you need an energy-boost, select uplifting citrus blends or opt for calming varieties on chaotic days.

8. Picture Your Goals

What are you working so hard for, anyway? Surround yourself with a visualization wall or vision board to keep your motivation on point. If you’re dreaming of an amazing vacation in a tropical location, put up a few beach photos to remind yourself what the grind is for. If you see yourself leading the team one day, pin-up snapshots of inspiring women CEOs, power-words or phrases of affirmation.

Create a Zen Work-From-Home Office Space With These Setup and Design Ideas

To master your work-from-home space, you need to design an office setup that works for you, no matter how small. Use these ideas to build a customized, zen-ified space that suits your needs — and your aesthetic.