So, it’s been a hot minute since I last chatted with you about WFH productivity. We’ve talked a lot about adapting spaces, coaching kids through tough transitions, and staying SANE! During a year that we’ve been forced to be so flexible, I think many of us have all but abandoned the expectation to be productive.
But as Autumn approaches, I get that same, seasonal urge to knuckle down and deliver the goods! This year obviously presents some obstacles, but I’m all about working smarter NOT harder these days. And as always, it starts with creating space for the intention to come to life.
While it seems our WFH lifestyle is here to stay, what I want more than anything is to find that focused flow-state where I can bust through those business to-dos and let my creativity thrive! I usually made WFH productivity magic happen in my office… but sometimes you have to let go of what can’t be in order to embrace what is.
This doesn’t mean I don’t dream of having a dedicated office space JUST FOR ME. Lately I’ve been living vicariously through my own fave blogger, Emily Henderson: she’s doing away with offices altogether as part of a move back to her hometown, Portland. Hearing her talk about the move has made me want to shake things up too!
Personally, I love the sun way too much to move back to my old PNW haunting grounds in Seattle… although the idea of running away to a new house with a big office that opens onto a shaded, autumnal patio sounds right up my alley. Alas, I need to make things work for now. Just like you do!
High-Productivity or High-Traffic?
Getting down to brass tacks at a temporary office set up is no small feat. When I’m not being interrupted by kids, I find myself half-thinking about the laundry, or tidying around the house absent-mindedly. There’s always a million distractions, and this goes double in shared spaces!
I don’t know about you, but our office is a rotating door. Especially since school has started, Natalie has dominated our office space! After her Zoom classes, Travis takes over next. He needs the quiet space to pay the bills, run the back end of our business, and get organized. So I take calls in our walk-in closet—ha!
I try to step into our home office for some heads-down time in the gaps between scheduled business. So does Emily, when she’s not taking Zoom classes in the Desert Den. Fortunately, Rachel has her own room, so she is content. Four people are enough for one home office!
I have a theory why our office has become such a family favorite: the chairs. We recently replaced our old wooden and wicker seating with something a little more plush from Sunbrella. What a world of difference! The low, barrel-back style hasn’t changed—but now we actually lean back.
Settle In & Stay a While!
Our old office chairs were fine for spending one or two early morning hours answering emails. But once we started our hardcore WFH lifestyle, I realized that I was usually perched pretty far forward during these tasks, so I had never noticed how unwelcoming our old chairs were. If we are going to use this space more frequently, we need something you could really sink into!
I like finding chairs that have good seat depth and a round back that allows you to sit back and ponder from time to time. Don’t get me wrong, a straight back chair isn’t all bad, and posture is important! But there is something great about leaning back a little to give whatever you’re working on a good, hard think.
The quality of fabric is great too, especially with a six year old in the space. She fidgets a LOT: feet on the chair, turning around, wiggling all over. While I’m still mindful about her spilling on our electronics—or some arts and craft project going awry—I certainly don’t have to worry about the chairs!
I’m always the first to advocate for being practical when making design choices, but with these chairs it feels nice not to have to compromise. I have been a fan of Blu Dot furniture since FOREVER. So when I saw these, I knew they would be ideal, and they’ve really given the room some visual weight.
The chairs’ curved metal legs lend a modern edge to the room’s design without being too industrial. And we picked a darker fabric color to balance out all the bright white in the space with some much-needed contrast.
I have been all about dark details lately, after being inspired by a client’s modern black staircase! At first I thought about painting the back walls above the desk. But frankly, school was starting, and I simply didn’t have the time. So the chairs were an easy way to get some depth into a space we’ve been seeing a LOT of, lately.
WFH Productivity is in the Details
Beyond just the chairs, there are a few other details that I think make this room an extra juicy get-it-done space.
I really believe having a runner or rug under your feet while working is grounding. A cozy carpet is warm and visually stimulating. It makes a drab office feel alive with pattern and color! Plus, being able to dig my toes into something soft helps me to settle my body, and then my mind.
Even though my new chairs don’t have wheels, I don’t want to drag them over a shag rug, or feel that awkward teeter when one of the legs is not on the carpet. If you have a roller chair, it’s even more important to get a runner that is thin enough for a chair to go over again and again without getting stuck and ruining your flowstate.
I talk about the power of house plants a lot, and this room is no different! Having plants in an office space helps to reduce stress, calm anxiety, and researchers have even seen a 15% increase in productivity by introducing plants into a formerly spartan space.
If you are afraid of killing plants at your workplace or don’t have the light or space to sustain a more robust green friend, why not try herbs? Peppermint is well known for its calming properties, and Rosemary helps to stimulate memory. In Ancient Greece, students used to wear garlands of Rosemary to take exams!
Herbs are amazing for small spaces because they can be potted in the teeniest pots, and they SMELL great. If you’re still not convinced, I recommend an aromatherapy diffuser at the very least. Aromatherapy perks up your senses so you can achieve a super focused state—I love my saje wellness!
I love getting organized at my desk. Even though I feel like a nomad weaving in and out of this room, having a central base is so important for keeping tabs on files and other office tools that always live in the same spot. We tend to keep these in easy-to-reach drawers, preferring a clear desk space with only one or two super efficient and stylish utilities.
You’ve seen these wall grids before, and they’re essential for keeping notes and little do-dads in a highly visible area without cluttering our workspace. There are also similar, larger options that can house heavier files and really utilize that vertical space!
After updating our WFH space, everyone in the family has gotten a lot more use out of it—to the point where it’s always occupied! So where does that leave me? Well, as much as I say I want one place to work, I also welcome a change in scenery. And I’ve found that good heads-down time doesn’t always need to happen in our office.
I still get my early morning hours in at the desk, but when it’s feeling more like a watercooler than a library, I grab my to-go bag with all my office essentials (essential oils included!) and find a new spot wherever feels… right. Sometimes it’s where the light is. Sometimes it’s the quietest spot in the house. The important thing is to listen to my intuition: what does my mind need right now?
More often than not, all you need is a good chair and a clean, well lighted space.