Cristal's Blog


August 8, 2022

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Minimize Procrastination and Maximize Productivity

For most Montecito homeowners, their home is their castle. Today, your abode can also be the central command post for your business because even if you don’t work for yourself, a significant number of companies offer telecommuting. In fact, employers who have embraced the movement report that their employees who work from home are actually more productive than those who must report to an office.

While you are free to design and decorate the perfect home office to your exact specifications, there are some things to keep in mind:

  • Choose the location carefully
    When it comes to selecting the right space inside your home, consider noise and traffic factors. If you plan to work in your office when the rest of the family is at home, choose a room that’s not too close to the kitchen, bathroom, or great room since common areas bring with them a lot of activity. If you’re charged with monitoring a child or children, however, your choice of location should take that into consideration. 
A home office with a view of trees and lush landscape
  • Design a space that inspires
    Once you find the right space for your telecommuting, it’s time to concentrate on what motivates you, soothes your senses, and brightens your day. No matter how ascetically pleasing your home office is, if it’s not strategically organized, the space could end up being counterproductive. Paint the walls a soothing, light color to elevate your mood and productivity. Add a living plant to your workspace to help reduce stress and create a feeling of well-being
  • Determine Your Design Theme
    A design theme should inspire you to get that last bit of work done while allowing you to enjoy your surroundings. From modern and sleek to cozy and chic, the ideal home office theme speaks to your personal aesthetics. Add furniture pieces that are functional but not heavy or excessive to facilitate the use and flow of space.
  • Blend in
    When decorating, consider how the room will blend in with adjacent areas. The style choice and colors should be complementary, not clashing. Pay close attention to creating a proper work surface. This critical element in any home office can mimic the style of the rest of your home or add a complementary element.
  • Get organized
    The best way to get organized in a home office is by going paperless. By digitizing your address book and calendar, your network will literally be at your fingertips wherever you go. Digitizing also allows you to scan and shred documents, preventing the further use of paper and saving the planet. If you can’t go paperless, at least avoid clutter by having a place to store all those important documents. In addition, be sure to cut or hide any cords. Wireless printers and scanners are one way to keep those ugly wires out of view and reduce the chances of tripping over them. If you are holding meetings in your home office, then you will need space for at least one extra chair.
  • Keep it light
    Smart lighting is essential in any room, and vital in your home office. The character and quality of the lighting can increase your productivity while allowing you to think and create. Poor office lighting can reduce energy, dampen your mood, and cause eye strain and headaches. Illuminate your workspace with artificial lighting through overhead or recessed lights, with well-defined light sources for computer work, paperwork, and other focus-intensive tasks. Whenever possible, use natural light.
  • Go green
    Telecommuting from home is better than being in a stuffy office building, but you’re still indoors. However, greenery can help you bring the outdoors inside. Adding green touches is easy on the eyes and helps us feel more connected to nature.
  • Zoom background
    Make sure you have the proper lighting and backdrop for any of those important Zoom meetings. Many people have their bookshelf in the background, but a blank wall works too. A curated photo collage is a perfect option if you want to get a little personal. Showing off your whole bedroom is only for those who manage to keep their rooms immaculate. Bring nature into any call by spotlighting an outdoor area. You can also select a virtual background.
  • Set your own hours
    Studies show that those who keep regular working hours are the most productive working at home. That’s not surprising since no one’s watching you from your home office. That’s why experts suggest you dive into your to-do list as soon as possible after you wake up.
  • Act as if you are going to the office
    Set your alarm, keep regular working hours, structure your day as you would at the office, and stay focused. If you have an online calendar, create personal events and reminders that tell you when to shift gears and start on new tasks. Google Calendar makes this easy.
  • Don’t mess around on social media during working hours
    We all know how easy it is to waste hours on social media. Don’t do it! Consider working primarily in a private or “incognito” browser window. Instead, use technology to stay connected with team members.
Two comfy chairs facing a desk with a bookshelf to the side
  • Pick a definitive finishing time each day
    You might be under the impression that working from home establishes more work-life balance but be careful with that assumption. Don’t get so caught up working in a relaxing environment that you lose track of time and spend more hours than necessary behind your desk.
  • Add inspiration
    Experts say homeowners should make space in their home office for personal items. That’s because displaying some of your favorite things can be inspirational. Whatever you add, make sure it speaks to you. That way, you’ll not only be comfortable, but you’ll also be more creative and productive.

I enjoy the best of both worlds when it comes to my work environment. I have a lovely office in my Montecito home, but I also have access to personal space at the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices office on Coast Village Road in Montecito. I love having a flexible schedule and find it has helped me be named one of the “Top 100 Influential Real Estate Agents in Southern California” by Real Estate Executive magazine.

If you’re looking for a new home where you can work in your pajamas, have a look at my public and private featured listings. Most of those distinctive properties either have an existing home office or provide plenty of space to create one. After you peruse my listings, call me at (805) 886-9378 or email me at We’ll arrange a tour of those that catch your eye. I’ll even help you set up your own home office and make sure it’s the perfect space for telecommuting.

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Client Reviews

“It was an emotional experience selling our mother’s home in Montecito that we all loved so much but Cristal made the process easier on our whole family by guiding us through the transaction every step of the way. She knows the market so well and everything she recommended was on point including the asking price, painting, and staging the home, which looked beautiful and helped the buyer envision her new home. We sold it the first day it hit the market with an offer above asking! Cristal did an incredible job communicating with us and the buyer to ensure that the transaction would run smoothly. We highly recommend using Cristal, she was a pleasure to work with! ”

- J & A

“Cristal is a pleasure to work with! Her knowledge of the local real estate market coupled with her amazing listening skills resulted in her showing us an array of homes that were all excellent choices. Her low-pressure patient attitude made us feel extremely comfortable with the whole process. I cannot recommend her highly enough.”

- M.F.

“Cristal Clarke is #1 in her field - and you don't become #1 by luck. Cristal works harder, and longer, and with more charm and patience than any real estate agent I have ever worked with in the past; her calendar has no weekend, her days have no clocks, her only concern is selling your property as soon as possible and for the best price on the market. Am I a fan? You bet!”

- P.B.

“We have used Cristal now several times and cannot express how grateful we are for her expertise, dedication, and unwavering support throughout the entire home-buying process. Cristal is knowledgeable, patient and attentive. Her attention to detail is remarkable, and she consistently went above and beyond to provide us with all the information and resources we needed to make informed decisions. Cristal is a skillful negotiator and advocate. She can navigate complex negotiations with professionalism and grace and felt like a true partner to us in the home-buying process. Cristal has a genuine passion for real estate and a deep commitment to her clients' satisfaction. I cannot speak highly enough of Cristal and her exceptional service. She is a true expert in her field and her dedication to excellence, combined with unwavering support is the reason we choose to work with her for all our real estate buying needs.”

- T.C.

“Cristal is a top-notch realtor who sold my home before it ever went on the market. I had two competing offers that enabled me to get top dollar for my home. Not only is Cristal superb but her team is extraordinary. I cannot say enough about Cristal and her team. They are simply phenomenal, the consummate professionals, who took care of every possible detail, making the sale and transition period, smooth from our end. They are also lovely, caring people, who knew all the right professionals, to get the job done. Thank you, everyone!”

- D.R.

“I could list lots of cool adjectives to describe Cristal. All good by the way. But, that is not why I or anyone should hire Cristal. My reason for hiring her, which proved to be correct, is very simple. She got the job done. And, she does it time and time again and with zero issues. And, that is why she is one of the top agents in the country. End of subject. ”

- M.A.

“Working with Cristal was a complete pleasure. Cristal was extremely patient with us as we evaluated nearly 2 dozen homes over a span of 2 years. Her knowledge of the market is unmatched. Cristal provided us with exceptional counsel as we evaluated opportunities and negotiated pricing. The closing process was handled thoroughly and efficiently. We could not be happier with our purchase and even more happy to now call Cristal our friend.”

- D.K.

“Cristal Clarke has conducted numerous real estate transactions for me beginning 13 years ago with the purchase of a Lemon Ranch. She has handled both large and small purchases and sales with equal dedication. As a negotiator, you can’t find anyone better. Her transactions are always conducted in the most appropriate and professional manner. Cristal has considerable knowledge of the Santa Barbara market.”

- S.N. Decker Ph.D.

“Living in Europe, we were to say the least, unaccustomed to the nuances of Real Estate acquisition in California and Cristal steered us through the process with absolute professionalism and personal attention to detail at every turn. Her in-depth knowledge of the market place combined with enthusiasm and drive was the only reason we secured the property of our dreams and will be forever grateful. If you are looking for personal discrete and private representation of the highest quality we suggest you look no further than Cristal Clarke.”

- Johan and Paula van den Berg

“Cristal is very straightforward, cheerful, helpful, professional and trustworthy….we felt very lucky to work with her.”

- John and Lacey Williams

“After considering our many choices, we are grateful it was Cristal Clarke of Sotheby’s International who represented the sale of our Montecito cottage. We are familiar with Cristal’s reputation of hard work and dedication to clients, but it was her attention to detail that made our experience so positive. She offered suggestions for staging the property, worked in harmony with potential buyers and was even able to secure back up offers. The sale of our cottage was completed much sooner than we expected, due in great part to Cristal’s professional skills and support. We highly recommend Cristal as a first choice for anyone needing representation with real estate.”

- Michael & Nancy Lee

“Our experience in working with Cristal Clarke resulted in the successful and discrete acquisition of a property which was not yet on the open market. Her knowledge of the Montecito/Santa Barbara area and vast expertise blended with her passion for real estate and architecture, provided us with the very highest level of professionalism and personalized services. Cristal exhibited a rare combination of excellent communications, attention to detail, creativity and patience.”

- Richard and Catherine Frinier

“Cristal really breaks the mold. She knows every nook and cranny of this real estate market, understands value, and follows up on everything, all the time. She was incredibly patient with our two year quest to find the perfect house. Every house hunting trip from across the country was well planned, and our time was never wasted. On top of her professionalism and expertise, she is delightful to spend time with. We are thrilled with the home we purchased, and grateful to Cristal for so wisely advising us through this process, right through to the close and beyond.”

- Laurie Siegel

“We met Cristal first in the course of renting a winter home (for three years), then buying a house using her as our agent. She was amazingly good at listening to our wants and showing us homes that fit our needs. Her mastery of the paperwork was perfect. Most importantly, there was never a situation where we doubted her straightforwardness or integrity. If we do another real estate transaction in Montecito (which I doubt, we’re happy with what we purchased), without question we’d use Cristal again.”

- Ken Saffir

“Susan and I just want to thank you for your efforts in the sale of our home. You are really quite amazing. Your competence, persistence, optimism and humor made the entire process effortless. Every problem that arose, you somehow fixed; any obstacle, you overcame. We have bought and sold many homes. It has never been such a painless and enjoyable process!”

- Michael & Susan Marquart

“A little something about “our” realtor, Cristal Clarke. My wife and I came to Santa Barbara about fifteen years ago looking for a seasonal home from which to enjoy the weather and amenities of the central coast. Being in the real estate business myself I was familiar with agents and brokers so entered the market with open eyes. We “flipped” a few houses in the early years, dealing with various agents and finally ended up in Montecito. That’s when good fortune put us together with Cristal. To say we were impressed is to put it mildly. Cristal really knows the market. She is familiar with the area, its history and trends. When we have questions about a particular property she either has the answers immediately or gets back to us by phone or email. There is no waiting or wondering with Cristal. She is an agent who is “on top of it.” Her recommendations as to price points, contractors, inspectors and title agents have proven to be exceptional, showing great insight and the highest professional standards. We consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to say that Cristal Clarke is our realtor and would recommend her services to any serious buyer or seller.”

- Rob & Judi Kelch