If you’re like me, your home workspace doubles as your gaming space. This was detrimental to my productivity. Every time I sat down, my brain saw my VR headset and my slick gaming PC and said, “it’s time to play, right?”

Getting into the groove became a daily struggle. I’d battle that voice that said, “relax, this is your fun space,” every morning. It wasn’t until I changed my environment that I removed this stress from my life.

How then do you signal to your brain it’s time to work? A lot has to do with your environment. And today I’m going to pass on some tips about organizing your workspace for maximum productivity.

1. Don’t Cheap Out On Your Command Chair

Do you think Captain Kirk would want the Federation to shirk when it came to his chair on the bridge of the Enterprise? He needed to be comfortable while he leaned in and posed for the camera, after all.

You’ll likely spend more time in your command chair than Captain Kirk on his five-year mission. Are you willing to sacrifice on comfort just for a better deal on your chair?

Let’s ask your body what it thinks.

Ergonomics is the study of people in their working environment. The goal is to design workspaces for comfort and injury reduction. If you aren’t working in an ergonomic space or on an ergonomic chair, you’re increasing your risk of injury.

Injuries from a poorly designed chair include ganglion cysts, tendonitis, tennis elbow, and lower back pain. You can avoid these things by spending just a little more on your office chair.

2. Separation of Work and Play

Like I said in the intro, I’ve struggled with this separation. My wife won’t let me have two offices in the house. Thus I chose to move my work to a coworking space (I might have been getting a little lonely too).

But separating your family/play space from your work space is the best thing you can do for your freelance career. Distraction at home doesn’t just come in the form of VR headsets and gaming consoles. Your very family or even your house itself can be a distraction.

Freelancers report that their biggest distraction from work is family members who can’t keep boundaries. They demand attention and don’t understand that when you’re at work, you’re at work.

Create a play and family-free workspace. If this means creating a carboard cubicle, do it. And remember to put a sign up that says, “interrupt for true emergencies only.” Maybe then, your family will understand you’re serious about your work.

3. Slim Down Your Office

The average office worker spends 4.3 hours a week searching for something on their desk. Imagine if you did that all at once. You’d want to slam the stapler into your own head repeatedly.

This is wasted time. And wasted time is wasted money. This is especially true for the freelancer who loses money if they don’t work and produce.

Keep your desk clean. Not only will you be able to find that invoice or not you wrote. But you’ll be less distracted.

A mess on your writing desk creates anxiety. Anxiety leads to distracted thinking. Distracted thinking leads to lost time. Lost time leads to lost money.

4. Shrink Wrap Your Phone

Quickly Google “How to use shrink wrap bags” and then take your phone and shrink wrap it.

Wait. Why?

Because your cell phone is making you stupid.

No, really, when you have your smartphone within glancing distance, it reduces your emotional intelligence. A couple of psychologists ran a study on nearly 800 participants and measured the cognitive capacity of their subjects.

They found that when people were in the presence of their smartphones, their cognitive resources declined, especially when trying to do work tasks.

They surmise that this could be due to the fact you’re attempting not to think about your cell phone. You’ve likely created the habit of periodically checking your phone and resisting this urge takes up some of your mental resources.

Even having the phone in your pocket or your bag can create a problem. The best thing to do is to turn off your cell phone entirely while you work. And if you’re worried about missing a call, tell others they can contact you through email or a messaging app on your computer.

5. Create “Zones” In Your Office Space

Joe Hill has his comfy couch where his Corgie sits while he works. Others have their lazy boys.

Sometimes you need a place to sit and think. Someplace separate from your workspace.

My coworking space already does this for me. If I want to sit and take notes or write down my thoughts, I don’t sit at my desk. I take the couch at the center of the space.

For some reason, the brain latches onto spacial cues when working. And assigning mental tags to spaces in your office will help you switch tasks faster.

For example, if you take conference calls, create a space for conference calls and a space for your deep work. You’ll have an easier time getting back to work once the conference call has concluded.

See Your Space As Your Domain

Your freelance workspace is your domain. It’s not for your children. It’s not for your spouse. (Maybe it’s for your dog. If you have a cat, good luck keeping her out.)

Gaurd your space and keep it for work only. If you keep it neat and organized, you’ll see your productivity soar.

By Ben Mattice

Benjamin Mattice is a freelance writer/editor, horror and sci-fi writer, SEO and affiliate marketing newbie, dog wrestler, cat wrangler, capoeirista, and long distance runner. He lives in the Palouse with his wife, three dogs, two cats, and two rats. Yes, that would probably be considered a mini-zoo.