Often, people feel they get distracted or that their work starts to take over their entire day. But there’s good news—there are ways to make your home just as productive as the office.

Create a WFH schedule – and stick to it!

Distractions might be the single biggest issue with working from home. Maybe you see a pile of laundry that needs folding or think you might watch Seinfeld reruns while doing some data entry. But studies show that multitasking and procrastination are not effective mechanisms for productivity.

Allen P. Haines, author, journalist, and coach of senior executives at companies like Sony and Disney, says that “it can easily take up to 40 percent longer to complete projects when you’re interrupted than it does when you can maintain specific focus.” He suggests creating a calendar and a space free of distraction. A schedule makes it clear to friends and family when you’re available and it helps you stay accountable. When the clock hits 5 pm, you can turn off your laptop without guilt, and likewise, you’ll be less tempted to clean your kitchen at 2 pm instead of doing that budget report.

A schedule offers a boundary between work and home, but spatial delineation is also important. Part of what makes an office feel productive is its design; you won’t find a bed or snuggly blankets in the breakroom. You associate your desk with work and you’ve likely taken the time to set it up just-so. Why then let your home desk be overrun with clutter?

Decluttering: not just a pretty face

Having a tidy home isn’t just about impressing guests; it can improve your productivity and sense of wellbeing. Dr. Libby Sander, an Assistant Professor of Organisational Behaviour at Bond University, has done extensive research into the messy surroundings affecting workers. According to Sanders, “cluttered spaces can have negative effects on our stress and anxiety levels, as well as our ability to focus, our eating choices, and even our sleep.” Her research found this was the case both in the home and the workplace.

You’ve decided you need a proper workspace, so how do you do it? Well, there is no “right” way, but here are some favourites.

Use the KonMari Method

Marie Kondo, expert tidier, best-selling author, and star of the Netflix show “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” has made waves with the KonMari Method. The method is based on tidying by category, rather than location. Instead of cleaning room by room, the KonMari works item by item. The method starts with clothes, then books, papers, miscellaneous items, and then sentimental items. You keep what only sparks joy. With this approach, Marie Kondo says you will never need to reorganize your home again, which is an exciting thought. 

Balance your home with Feng Shui

Long before any studies or Netflix specials, Feng Shui encouraged aligning homes and belongings to balance energies. It aims to situate human-built environments on areas with good “Qi,” which is believed to be a form of energy. Around the home, it can be considered the art of allowing life’s unseen forces to flow freely by arranging spaces and objects in a harmonious manner.

Feng Shui has many different branches, and the rules for it vary by room. For an office, the biggest tip is—you guessed it—removing clutter. Just like the mind, a space needs to be clear to achieve focus. 

Another common suggestion is to put your desk facing the door but not directly beside it. This is the power position in which energy enters but does not leave. 

Donate, Sell, or Swap 

Now you need to decide what to do with your unwanted items. Donating to thrift stores and charities are great ways to give to a cause, but they aren’t your only option. If you need to make extra money you could sell them on Kijiji, Facebook Marketplace, or Craigslist.

Should I use Craigslist?

Craigslist’s interface is basic, but goods are sorted into clear categories and it’s fairly easy to search through listings. However, it does not have an app and it isn’t mobile-friendly. Since mobile phones account for approximately 41% of web traffic in Canada that means fewer people will see your post.

Should I use Kijiji? 

Kijiji is like a more modern Craigslist and it does have app. Its main flaw is that it isn’t used consistently across Canada. For instance, a search for “desks” on Kijiji Toronto yielded over 2000 results, but the same search in Kijiji Vancouver yielded just 27, so its value will really rely on your location.

Should I use Facebook Marketplace and Groups?

Facebook Marketplace seems to be taking the lead, and it’s not really surprising. With a Facebook account, it’s easy to upload a listing on desktop or mobile. And while Craigslist and Kijiji are anonymous, Facebook Marketplace shows names and allows users to chat, offering a sense of comfort to both buyers and sellers. 

Facebook Groups also allow people in similar demographics and regions to swap, donate, and sell items. You can advertise your products in a hyper-local and interest-focused space, like an East Side New Mom’s Clothing Swap or your community’s “Buy Nothing Group.” 

Taking decluttering beyond your home

Now that your home is clean and your workspace optimized, you’ll find you have more energy and momentum. How about taking this energy and putting it towards cleaning up your finances? The first step can be simple, whether it's downloading a free or inexpensive budget app, tidying up your monthly subscriptions, or learning about credit.

Fresh Start Finance serves Canadians with practical advice on personal finance and credit-building solutions. Whether you have bad credit or no credit, we know how to help make your financial future brighter. Bookmark and subscribe to our blog for more useful tips, or speak to one of our consultants today to see how we can help!

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