How to Design Your Home Office For Maximum Productivity

Since starting my own business, my home office has been my #1 work spot. Occasionally, I do venture out to Whole Foods, Starbucks, or my church’s co-op space. (With a baby at home, some days it’s just better to get out of the house). But for the most part, I wake up, shower, eat breakfast, nurse the babe, brew a pot of bulletproof coffee and get right to work in the comfort of my own home.

It’s quite a change from Corporate America, and I must say, I LOVE it.

Since I spend so much time there, decorating is a big priority. It’s been difficult to do what I really want to do, because we recently moved out of our home and in with my parents to save some money, but I still have some of the decor from my old office to liven up the space. And I can testify to the fact that decorating is crucial to maximizing your productivity. Especially since I work from home and there are so many distractions.

Here are some of the tips I have on designing your home office. Most of these I gathered from my own personal experience, but a few of them I picked up from Google and Pinterest searches. They’re elements I’d like to implement once we move back into our home a year from now…

1. Choose a wall color that suits your line of work.

Different colors influence behavior differently:

Blue stimulates the mind and aids in mental productivity. If your job requires a lot of mental activity, you should probably paint your walls a shade of blue.

Yellow stimulates creativity and makes you more optimistic, so if you’re a designer, this is the color to go with.

Red stimulates physical activity. If your job requires less mental and more physical exertion, red will help you be more physically productive.

Green enhances balance. This is the color I’ve decided to go with for my home office. (When we move back in, we plan to paint all of the walls). I suffer from ADD, and my job requires a lot of time online which only furthers the condition… :) So, balance is definitely something I need in my work life!

As far as which shade of these main colors to pick, that depends on whether you’re trying to stimulate or soothe. Highly-saturated colors tend to stimulate, while less saturated colors have more soothing qualities. Assess your needs based on personality and productivity, and decide from there.

Can’t decide on one color? Choose 2 complementary colors and have an accent wall (as in the pic below.)

2. Hang motivational pictures.

Several years ago, I created a vision board with magazine clippings and quotes to inspire action. Whenever I sense a dip in motivation or productivity, I look at that wall hanging and I’m instantly motivated. Photos of tropical vacations, inspirational quotes and things that represent what I’m trying to build for my life and my kids’ lives keep me going on a daily basis.

3. Have a physical calendar.

We live in a digital age, so it’s easy to relegate everything to your laptop or PC. But having a physical calendar forces you to write things down, and there’s something about writing down your to-do’s that gives them a sense of permanence and urgency and almost drives you forward in a way that a digital calendar just doesn’t do. There are a couple of other benefits to having a physical calendar as well:

  • A digital calendar is only visible to you when you turn on your computer and open the calendar app. A physical calendar that hangs on your wall or sits on your desk is visible 24/7.
  • A digital calendar may malfunction or accidentally get erased. A physical calendar will serve as a back-up in the event that you lose your digital one.

4. Hang a whiteboard to keep track of daily to-do’s.

This is especially useful if you share your office space and need to assign to-do’s to other people. Again, a digital to-do list is helpful, but a physical one is even better for the reasons listed above. Consider combining your calendar and to-do list into one wall hanging or decal (as in the pic below.)

5. Make sure your furniture is ergonomic.

Your desk and chair should complement your decor, but even more importantly, it should enhance productivity. If you’re constantly trying to get comfortable inside your workspace, you won’t be as productive. Choose furniture that is designed to be comfortable, but not too comfortable. You don’t want to be falling asleep at your desk.

(This picture of ergonomic furniture is also a great example of using an accent wall in a modern home office!)

Writing this post has made me even more excited about moving back into our home, so I can decorate our office. Right now, I guess Whole Foods will have to suffice as my temporary office space. Right now I’m surrounded by red walls, drinking a mean bulletproof coffee from the coffee bar!


The Benefits of Gender Neutral Nurseries

Hey again. So I know it’s been a while since my last post, but we recently moved out of our house and in with the ‘rents for a year, so I needed some time to get settled.

You may remember me talking about things to do before you rent your house out in my last post. I’m happy to say we implemented almost all of the tips I put out there. And now, I really miss my house, but this will give me a chance to get financially stable before we move back in. Plus, we have some awesome tenants taking care of the place for us while we’re gone.

So much happened in that house… It was our first mortgaged home, and we celebrated buying it with our first Chinese takeout meal the night we moved in. We bought my husband a new car. I birthed our first child in the master bathroom. (Yeah, you read that right.) It was really hard to let go of it, even though it’s only for a year.

I cried the night we moved out, and a few more times after that. I especially miss the one room we bothered to paint a different color from the egg-white walls in every other part of the house: my daughter’s nursery.

It actually took us a while to set the nursery up. I remember doing most of the decorating the day I went into labor. Our relatives all thought we were insane when we still had bags of baby shower gifts littering the floors by the time I hit 35 weeks in my pregnancy. We hadn’t even set up the crib yet…

I’m not really sure what I was waiting for. I guess I figured we’d have plenty of time to decorate after she was born since I’d be home on maternity leave and newborn babies spend most of their time sleeping. Boy was I wrong! Those first few weeks as a new mom were hard

We painted the room a light mint green color and opted for neutral-colored decor. I told myself I didn’t want a pink-filled nursery. I’m not a girly-girl, and I don’t like pink. Not to say if my daughter turns out to be a girly-girl I’ll love her any less. But with her father and I raising her, I don’t really see that happening.

Before we set up the nursery, I did a lot of browsing on Pinterest, and most of the photos that seemed to catch my eye were of neutral nurseries. White and tan walls, gray and natural wood cribs, ivory rockers, with subtle pops of color only in the decorations — a coral-colored picture frame, a mint-green chair cushion, a few multicolored books on a white book shelf — just enough to add a touch of femininity, but not so much pink that you couldn’t reuse the space for a boy in the future. And we plan to have at least one boy (God-willing).

Here are some pics of some of my favorite neutral nurseries on Pinterest:

Neutral nurseries have so many advantages. Like…

1. Simplicity. The eye is drawn to things that are clean and simple.

2. Timelessness. Simple designs create a modern aesthetic that will never go out of style.

3. Economical. If your nursery is all pink and you end up having a boy the second time around, you have to buy all new stuff and redecorate. With a neutral nursery, you can reuse most elements, saving you time and money — 2 things you’ll need more of as you continue to grow your family.

I think for baby #2, we will stick with mostly neutral hues and use pops of color to enhance the space. We may even wait until the baby is born to find out the gender. Everyone loves a good surprise, right? ;)

4 Things To Do Before Renting Out Your House

My husband and I put our house on the rental market a few weeks ago. We’ve had quite a few showings, but no tenants yet. We definitely want to wait and make sure we get the right people, since we’re only planning to move out for a year.

It has been an interesting process so far. I wasn’t sure how to go about renting out our house, so we decided to hire a property management company to manage it for us. Best decision ever. In fact, it’s my first suggestion on this list of things to make sure you do before renting out a property you own, if you ever decide to…

1. Hire a property manager. If you don’t want to deal with the headache of keeping up with your tenants and making sure they abide by the rules set forth when they sign the lease, a property manager can be a huge help. They do get a cut of your rent, but if you set the price high enough, you should still have some wiggle room to pay them, cover your mortgage and possibly have a little left over to put towards your equity build. A property manager can take care of everything from making sure the rent gets paid on time to checking on your house from time to time to verify that the tenants are taking good care of it.

2. Fix ‘er up. I’m not necessarily talking about a complete overhaul, especially if you’re only renting for a short time. But make your house look presentable. Touch up the paint, clean the carpets, and hire a company to come in and deep clean. They’ll do the jobs you likely haven’t done in years like washing your baseboards. Make sure all routine maintenance is performed before you move out, like pest control, HVAC filter replacement, gutter cleaning and pressure washing.

3. Landscape. If your lawn is covered in leaves, use a rake to clean it up, and be sure to do a thorough job. Have a lot of trees in your back yard? Trees can increase the economic value of a property, especially when they are well-maintained. Hire a tree care company to inspect your property for any diseased or dying trees. They can remove dead limbs, trim and prune your trees and grind or remove any unsightly stumps. We plan to hire a local tree service company to make our back yard look amazing before we move out!

4. Disconnect the cable. Unless you plan to include it as part of each month’s rent fee for your tenants, don’t forget to call your cable or satellite company and disconnect your service!

We are looking forward to letting someone else pay our mortgage for us for the next year! Hopefully, we can pay down some credit cards and get out of debt before moving back in. That’s the plan, anyway…