As digital nomads, we have the incredible freedom of being able to work from home and set our own schedules. This is an envied lifestyle and one that requires a lot of discipline, although the rewards are many. Your home office, or space to create, is an indispensable aspect. Here are 10 tips for creating a home office that will spark your creative powers and maximize your efficiency.
1. Create a dedicated space
The first step to creating a home office is finding a space in your home that you can transform into a work space. Psychologically, having a work space is very important. Since you already have psychological associations with other parts of your house and the activities that take place therein, having a space that is solely a work space will ramp up your productivity tenfold. It should be a space where, when you walk in, you feel, ‘this is a space where I get things done’.
Determine your office needs. It will need to be a place that accommodates a desk, and whatever other big items you might need such as a printer or scanner. It should have a door and be somewhat soundproof. It also needs to be a space with lots of plugins.
Lighting is also key. Our brains function more productively when we have access to natural light so if you can find a space flooded with natural light this is ideal. Also, since we are digital nomads in Sayulita, beating the heat by creating a space with air conditioning or lots of airflow will help improve your ability to focus and build positive associations with your space.
2. Personalize your office
Some people will jump up and down at the thought of decorating while others will roll their eyes. Regardless of whether you enjoy decorating or not, this goes back to psychology. We want to create positive associations with our work space so creating a space that is not only comfortable, but visually appealing will cause us to feel that extra little spark of creativity when we step into our office to work.
Your home office is more than a cubicle, it shouldn’t feel like prison. So make sure you put up art you love, pictures of loved ones, a scent that makes you happy, or fill the space with plants.
3. Make sure your space promotes physical health
Another way that we can create negative associations with our office space is by creating a space that doesn’t take into consideration our body’s needs. Minimize the damage sitting for long hours causes to your body by following ergonomic rules.
Set up your home workspace in such a way that your back and neck are straight and your arms are parallel to the floor. Avoid slouching or keeping your arms at odd angles. You can consider a stand up desk or investing in a comfortable chair as ways to keep your body happy while you work.
4. Keep regular hours
Although many digital nomads love the flexibility of their schedule, and have chosen this lifestyle precisely because of their distaste for regular routine, this can also be their biggest downfall. When you wake up and think ‘I have all day to get my work done’ you have already fallen into a mental trap that leads to procrastination and low productivity. It is a proven fact that people who have a regular work schedule get far more done than people who work on their own time. So, discipline is key.
Getting up early triggers the brain into productivity mode, because the very act of forcing ourselves out of bed reminds us we are on a mission. The early hours of the day is when our brain is at its freshest, so setting early work hours almost always results in a more productive work day than putting work off until the evening. Since a lot of digital nomads have a task-based work day, writing a to-do list and accomplishing your goals before relaxing is crucial. This way, you can fully enjoy your leisure once you have finished.
5. Split your work hours
Incentivizing ourselves with a work break does wonders for our productivity. Our output can only retain a certain level of quality for so many hours on end so splitting our work into segments is important, especially if we have a lot on our to-do list. Working for a solid three or four hours and then taking a lunch break before doing another two hours of work is a great way to split the day.
Also, there are times when splitting our work day is inevitable. Many digital nomads have side jobs as well, so sometimes getting up or getting interrupted is a normal part of the whole thing. Just making sure that when we are sitting down to work, we are being fully present for as long as we can be, instead of doing ten minutes of work, then something else, then another fifteen minutes, will maximize our output. Everybody has their own rhythm to find and their own optimum amounts of time to be sitting in one spot, focused.
6. Take breaks in their entirety
For a lot of people, letting themselves relax into their break is hard. It is just as important to be fully present when we are taking a break from working as it is to be fully present when we are in the office working. Managing the freedom of being master of your own schedule is the hardest thing about being a digital nomad, but the beautiful thing about this lifestyle is that you get to take a walk on the beach in the middle of the day, or stand up and go get a spontaneous coffee with a friend at whatever time you want to.
Most people don’t have this luxury so allow yourself to fully experience the benefits of your freedom. Also, our brains need to fully disconnect from a task in order to come back and see it with new eyes and new energy.
7. Manage your storage
A cluttered office equals a cluttered mind and the more energy you waste on figuring out where to put things, the less time you are dedicating to creating and producing. Having an extra space outside of your office where you can store all of your surplus supplies is crucial in keeping your space crisp and work-worthy.
8. Keep your office in a ‘ready’ state
This basically means that when you walk into your office in the morning, you have everything ready to start your day efficiently. Keeping the space clean is an indispensable part of having your office ready. When your work space gets cluttered, your mind gets cluttered too and you will lose time looking for things and always half way straightening up.
It is far better to set a cleanliness standard for your space and create habits that uphold it. You can also try creating the next day’s to-do list every day before ‘clocking out’, keeping your computer switched on, and setting up your space so that everything is within arm’s reach.
9. Make sure you have high-speed WIFI
This is the biggest challenge if you live in Sayulita but it is not an unconquerable obstacle. Several companies including Sayulita Wifi, Telmex, and Trippleplay offer satellite WIFI and will come install it for you.
However, for most digital nomads, regular Telmex WIFI with 200 Megas or so is more than suitable. Just make sure you are close to a router and not sharing with someone who will slow down your connection.
10. Set ground rules with roommates
Some digital nomads live alone, but many have roommates, partners or families. Setting ground rules is essential for your productivity. Putting a ‘do not disturb’ sign on your door is a good way to let them know you are working. If you have working preferences such as listening to music while you work, let them know.
If you need for them not to listen to music or do other noisy activities while you work, it is important to discuss these things and agree on times of the day that are ‘noise free’. This is also a good way to keep you accountable for keeping regular work hours.