In work as in other areas of life, environment influences mood, concentration, and productivity. Whether it is a large corner office, a cubicle, or a home office, your workspace can be your greatest asset for organization, or it can be a chaotic source of anxiety.
Through thoughtful design, incorporating furniture choices, comfort, and inspiration, your desk and its surroundings can help you achieve goals. Here are a few tips on how to combine productive work with comfort through office decoration and design:
Your office is more than your desk, chair, and file cabinets. It is the environment that you create for productive work. It can reflect your style, as this can provide comfort that helps you concentrate, or it can be austere. Either way, the overall theme should be organized and uncluttered. The less you have, the fewer things you have to organize.
Organized space is essential. This means having a spot for the things you work with, not just stacking piles. A file system works for paper documents, and desk organizers can hold supplies and other things that could be a distraction if left on a desk.
Having a dedicated space or home for office items can also help you trim unproductive distractions such as using a smartphone or other device. If you set up an organized electronics drawer, you can give your phone a home, a little bit out of your sight.
When working remotely, make sure you have a space that is strictly for work. Trying to readjust to new environments or using a space in your home that you use for family meals or sleep can create associations. These associations can creep into the other uses of the space, for example, if you work from your kitchen table, you may begin thinking about work during family dinner. Conversely, working from your bed may make you sleepy when trying to be productive. Try to find a space to work from home that is just for work, and when you're away from that space, you aren't thinking about work.
These simple ideas apply to how your workflows relate to the things you need to complete your tasks. For example, if you have to keep getting up to pick up a form or check a system, you might want to organize your process through your environment. Organization helps identify and streamline these areas.
When organizing your environment, it is also important to provide an area for brainstorming or list-making. If you have to spend too much time locating a notebook, moving your laptop to make space for note taking, you probably won't be effective in identifying and reaching goals. This can take the form of a whiteboard area or a separate place for a notepad.
To keep your meetings, projects, and goals in order, try using a wall or desk calendar. While digital calendars and reminders can be very helpful, sometimes being able to see the big picture of the month or coming months can help you prioritize your tasks, find a good time to take a vacation, and hold yourself accountable to deadlines.
It's a good idea to keep a separate area within your workspace, if possible, for reading. Some people find success in breaking their day into chunks of time separately dedicated to emailing, making phone calls, doing administrative tasks and learning.
A reading area, such as a separate office chair facing a different view than from your desk can be an ideal spot for a distraction-free time. When your environment is work-optimized, you increase productivity.
Consider an optimal spot for video meetings as well. If you typically work from a desk in a cluttered space, it will reflect when having video meetings. Try to find somewhere in your office or home that has a simple background, good lighting on your face, and without too much echo or background noise. Being prepared for video meetings will alleviate the stress of trying to find somewhere to go last minute.
Beyond organization, some desks and chairs can help with comfort. Back pain or feelings of discomfort from extended sitting can be a distraction. Some people find that the ability to work while standing is important. Standing desks are great for those who want to avoid the negative health effects of sitting while also benefiting from the productivity of standing.
For those who want to sit, though, chairs should be ergonomic and comfortable. You spend much of the day at work, and if you are to be in a chair, make it a good one. Also, chairs have to be able to take some abuse. A bargain desk chair may be costlier if it needs to be replaced every year.
No matter where your office is, if there is a window with a view of the outdoors, make sure that you face it. Looking out the window is calming and focusing. It also connects you to nature which is a useful method for concentration.
Inspiration can come from other sources that the outdoors, though. If you have a favorite inspirational quote, a poster on the wall can be reassuring. A photo calendar of your favorite vacation spot or a collection of family photos works as well.
The calming effects of nature can come from indoor plants as well. Plant a few easy to care for houseplants in small pots and place them in view, and near some natural light. Even a small, low maintenance green plant like a succulent, cactus, or bamboo can help shake off the winter blahs, too.
Drinking adequate amounts of water is important for your health. Make sure you get the hydration you need with a decent reusable water bottle. If you like to drink coffee or tea, save time and money by setting up a small coffee maker, teapot, or mug warmer.
Productivity, organization, success and happiness all are influenced by environment. Your office is your work center. Make it one that inspires you to innovate, challenge yourself, and work smarter.