If you grew up in the USA, then you’re probably used to having plenty of space. The average American home is far larger than its counterpart in places like Europe or Japan. However, this is beginning to change. Since 2015, the size of homes has been shrinking. This is due partly to an increasing preference for simple living and also because of a growing population and rising cost of living. Whatever the reason, you may find that you’re not able to always have a huge home office in which to work remotely. If you find yourself living and working somewhere a little cramped, here’s how to make the most of your tiny office space.

Declutter Your Space

Filling your office space with miscellaneous objects can be a form of procrastination. You believe that somehow your Newton’s cradle and pile of dusty books you’ll never read will inspire you to work. In reality, these only serve as distractions. A small space motivates you to declutter properly and live more minimally.

When space is limited, you need to think carefully about every item that you own. If you only have one small drawer for clothes, then work on cutting down on the number of outfits you own. This way, you won’t have jackets taking up half of your desk space. While this might feel like you’re sacrificing a lot, it can actually improve your life by making daily life less stressful and facilitating deep work.

Think about what you actually need to work. For many people, it’s little more than a laptop. Make sure that anything you keep in your work environment is something that you use regularly and get significant value from. If it’s not, then consider letting it go. This will free up a huge amount of room for you to move around in.

Upgrade Your Equipment

Part of living a more minimalist lifestyle is that you can afford to pay more attention to every item you do own. If you have the means, consider upgrading your equipment. In many cases, spending a bit more money will get you small but powerful gadgets that allow you to be just as productive without them taking up so much space.

For instance, new laptops tend to be extremely thin and lightweight while offering you the power you need. New Macbook Pros are about as lightweight as Macbook Airs while offering among the fastest operating speeds. Sure, they’re not cheap, but they allow you to work productively without needing a huge computer. 

The same rule applies to every other electronic item. Upgrading your smartphone can allow you to ditch bulky camera equipment. Spending more on a microphone allows you to capture clean audio using a tiny lapel mic. This might be a long process but work on consistently upgrading your technology so that it continues to serve your purposes while being as small as possible. Ask travelers for advice on how they pack a whole office into their backpacks.

Streamline Your Furniture

Like your electronic items, you can also streamline your furniture. Find the smallest desk your can. All it needs to do is hold your laptop, along with a select few other items like a notebook, mouse, or mug of coffee. If you don’t even have room for a desk, then a laptop stand can be a game-changer. This allows you to sit in bed or on a couch and still use your computer as if it’s at a desk.

Your image of a typical office probably includes a huge computer chair, suitable for a cigar-smoking CEO. However, you can strip down your chair to the basics and still get full back support. Look for ergonomic stools which are small and light but promote good posture, meaning that you can sit comfortably at your desk for extended periods.

Depending on the room you’re in, you can apply this same principle to all other items of furniture that surround you. Can you comfortably downsize your bed if working from your bedroom? Could you switch your wardrobe for a simple clothes rail? Once you make every large object as streamlined as possible, you should find yourself with plenty more room.

Add Natural Light and Mirrors

If you can’t physically make your office larger, then you can at least try and create the illusion of space. Clear the clutter around windows and try to bring in as much light as you can. Also, be sure to place your workspace next to the window so you can be absorbing vitamin D as you type away on your computer. This allows you to gaze out into the distance, helping your brain view your space as extending out much further than it really does.

Natural sunlight will also help you be more productive. It does this by boosting your mood, which creates a link in your brain between being at your desk and being happy. That, in turn, leads to a brain that is more focused and less prone to distractions. Natural light also reduces eye strain, which limits fatigue and prevents headaches.

Another way to increase a sense of space in your small office environment is to put up mirrors. It’s the oldest trick in the interior designer’s book but it really does work. The larger the mirror, the larger your room will look. To make it extra effective, place the mirror opposite a window to bring in the natural light mentioned above. This will also bring productivity-enhancing greenery inside without having to clutter the space with potted plants.

Separate Work and Leisure Spaces

No matter how small your space is, it’s a good idea to try and create separate spaces for work and non-work-related activities. Crossing over a threshold in the home helps you get into the mindset of whatever that room is meant for. If you only ever sleep in your bedroom, then you’ll feel sleepy every time you go in there. If you only ever work in your office space, then entering that room means entering a productive mindset.

In a small space, you may need to get creative. Your kitchen table might be the only place you have to work. In this case, why not divide your table in half? Draw a line down the middle and decide that you’ll only work on one side and only eat on the other. It’s a small change but it helps you set a clear divide between work and leisure.

No matter where you do your work, do your best to optimize your office environment. If traveling, use Anyplace Select to find an apartment that is created specifically for remote workers and digital nomads. This will have all the equipment and office gear you need to be productive so that you can instantly get in the zone and work more efficiently.

Where to next? Find flexible month-to-month rentals across the globe on Anyplace.


Born in Oxford, UK, Thom has been a digital nomad since graduating from the University of Sheffield in 2016. He’s a freelance writer and founder of Thom Brown Travel. Thom specializes in minimalist, ethical, and meaningful travel writing.

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