Whilst this is written using my experience as a graphic designer it can really be applied to anyone working from a home office. A comfortable, stimulating work area is crucial to a good output. Here are a few tips to getting the best from your work at home space.
Adding plants not only adds colour and life but can help to counteract the electromagnetic fields omitted by your computer and any other electrical equipment you may have. These EMF’s are linked to various health and wellbeing issues including stress and fatigue – not good when there’s work to be done! I like spider plants and peace lilies as they’re lovely and green, have lots of leaves and are very easy to look after!
Unfortunately, we can’t always have the lovely natural light, especially if others are like me and work a lot at night so what lighting should we choose? Although we’re all encouraged to use energy saving light bulbs I have to admit that in my work space I prefer normal, old fashioned bulbs, preference being the blue bulb. Designed for arts and craft areas I find it omits a bright light that seems less artificial than yellow standard bulbs. It might not seem like a lot but it makes a huge difference to my productivity.
One area I’d like to explore are light boxes rather than traditional lamps, these simulate natural sunlight and are apparently a healthier option. They look good and I’d love to try one out.
Again this is an area people don’t always consider. Working in a rural setting our air quality is pretty good but even if you live in a city there are steps you can take to improve. Things like avoiding aerosols, cleaning chemicals (go natural, a whole other topic!) and again, introducing plants can all help towards creating a purer environment. I’m sure there are people wondering what difference it makes to creativity and output – you’ll just have to take my word for it that it really can help.
I find that anytime over a couple of hours spend on the computer I start to feel a bit unwell. This is similar to motion sickness which some believe is caused by the static from the screen. To help combat this, I wipe the screen each morning with a damp microfiber cloth. Do this at the end of the day also to reduce the risk.
Pictures, books…whatever your chosen form of inspiration make sure it’s displayed. If you have a collection of books don’t let them collect dust in a corner, put them near your computer on a shelf for instant inspiration.
Colours are very important, instilling different moods and emotion. In your work area you should use colour to your advantage. The biggest single block of colour in your office is most probably the wall space, so make sure it’s not wasted. Shades of white, yellow or blue can be good in the office, one colour alone of combinations of these. Colours to avoid are browns, greys and blacks which can cause a tiredness feeling which is not what we need from a work space!
Once, in a time management course I was advised to only have on my desk the project on which I was working. Personally, I find this pretty impossible as I tend to have personal bits, business bits, client bits and more around me! Having said that, I’ve included it in this guide as I think its good advice for someone more organised than me!
A Few Useful Links :
- EMFs – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_radiation_and_health
- Cleaning without chemicals – http://housekeeping.about.com/cs/environment/a/alternateclean.htm
- Colours in the home – http://freshome.com/2007/04/17/room-color-and-how-it-affects-your-mood
Vicki Willingham is a freelance graphic designer living in Suffolk, UK. She runs VictoriaAnn Design. You can find out more about Vicki here. You can also find her on Twitter here : twitter.com/Victoria_Ann