If you’ve ever cursed your job as you frantically check your watch in backed up traffic, dreading the conversation with your boss when you roll in late. If you’ve even fought through rain and sleet among busy streets thronging with commuters. If you’ve ever felt your heart sink when a voice on the radio tells you that a broken down vehicle is causing significant delays on the motorway home, you may feel that working from home is some sort of elysian paradise, however optimistic you try to be about your commute. The allure of the home office may be a romantic notion to commuters on a dark and rainy November morning.
Make no mistake, There’s something satisfying about looking out of your window on a miserable winter morning and seeing commuters scurry all around you while you sip a leisurely coffee on the way to your home office. That said, working from home is not without its caveats.
Working from home means that you’re always at work. It can be extremely difficult to click out of work mode, even when all of your work is done for the day. The temptation to push on with work at the expense of your free time or taking a few minutes to grab a break and a bite to eat. If you have very young kids, finding your work / life balance can be a nightmare. Dividing your time between your professional duties alongside changing nappies, preparing snacks or giving your child the attention they deserve can tax even the most patient of parents.
For those who make a living via creative means, such as writing or graphic design, working from home provides a different set of challenges. The creative mind struggles in a vacuum, and requires a careful balance between stimuli and neutrality depending on the needs of the creative. With this in mind, a home based creative need to not only carefully consider the layout of their home office but the rest of the living space, too.
If you’ve spent countless hours staring at a blank screen while the cursor blinks mockingly at you, a spartan office with a motivational cat poster, just won’t cut it! Here are some home decor tips to help get the creative juices flowing wherever you may be in the house.
Your office / studio
Many veteran home based professionals will likely tell you that it’s important to remain in your home office and to avoid working in places like the living room sofa or your bed. While there’s certainly value in this, it’s also important that creatives avoid chaining themselves to their desks. The very act of getting up and walking around can prove beneficial for brain activity and the creative process.
Nonetheless, given that you’ll be spending a lot of your working time in your office, your decor needs to strike a fine balance between avoiding distractions and providing inspiration while still managing to be a functional workspace.
A window is essential. You don’t need to be working directly in front of it, but access to natural light and / or nature are proven to facilitate cognitive function and productivity as well as promoting general mental well being.
Integrating functional items such as your calendar, pinboard or stationery tidy (see some examples here) into your decor concept can not only help you stay organised, it’ll look fantastic too. Artwork is another source of inspiration that can provide a much needed spark when the creative well runs dry.
Finally, your home office should, wherever possible, incorporate some houseplants that will not only beautify your space but aid memory and concentration.
Once again, there’s nothing more counterproductive than staying in your home office when the creative well has run dry. You’ll either get increasingly frustrated at your lack of fecundity or produce low quality work that you’ll look back on with abject disdain later. Getting yourself into a neutral space and letting your brain take a break can prove hugely beneficial. While working in the bedroom is not recommended, it’s a great place to spend a few minutes unwinding.
Your bedroom should function as an inspirational reset button to quiet and reinvigorate your mind. Keep your walls as sparsely decorated as possible with calming tones and hues in your paint and / or wallpaper.
If you feel like slipping into a power nap, this can be far more inspiring and beneficial than chugging espresso after espresso. Thus, you should also ensure that your bedroom is conducive to napping. Keeping some lavender scented candles or pot pourri can be helpful.
Who says you can’t find inspiration in the bathroom? Like your bedroom, the bathroom can be a wonderful place to give your mind some breathing space and come back to your desk firing on all cylinders. Everything from your tiles to your bath taps can play a role in aiding mental restfulness and providing inspiration. The bathroom should be decorated neutrally but with enough personality for you to feel that you can be yourself (as this will be the key to providing that creative spark). By all means take a bath with some essential oils. Rosemary, peppermint and cypress oils are all proven to aid concentration so a 20 minute soak with any of these may well see you coming back to your desk refreshed and creatively vibrant.
If you have a garden, this can be a hugely beneficial in getting your mojo back. Getting some fresh air amidst living plants and trees can aid concentration as can the act of walking. As you enjoy your outdoor space, do your best to calm your mind and just enjoy spending time in the space. Once again, you’ll come back to your desk with renewed motivation. If you live in an apartment and don’t have access to a garden or don’t want to go walking for fear you may never return to your desk, adorning your office with a zen garden can be great for concentration and relaxation.
*This is a collaborative post. For further information please refer to my disclosure page.