Setting up the perfect workspace

My desk, as I’m writing this post

Workspaces are a very personal thing. What works for one person is a productivity graveyard for someone else. Some people like ambient noise, others have to have music playing while some need total silence. There are people that need a clear desk, others that like the busy-ness of clutter. So, how do you create a great workspace?

I’ve been fortunate to, at one time, have a huge personal space for work. I made it myself and was able to fill it with all the things I thought I needed to  be productive. Today, I have a 120cm wide by 60cm deep desk with a single screen (sure, it’s a 27-inch display but there’s just one!) my keyboard, trackpad, scanner and not much else.
Whenever I get some paper, like a statement or receipt, I scan it and shred it – there’s a shredder under the desk.
I don’t usually play any music and prefer a quiet space when I’m working most of the time.

The secret

The secret to creating a perfect workspace, in case you missed it, it that it works for you. But there some things I believe are really important.

  1. Natural light: Fluorescent globes, LED downlight, old fashioned light bulbs and other lighting devices might provide the lumens but natural light is the best. I have a window adjacent to my desk the lets natural light through as well as a couple of larger windows close by. Natural light is the best.
  2. Barriers: It’s important to have a physical barrier between where you work and where you life. Whether that’s a door, a curtain, a movable screen or something else, you need to be able to physically isolate yourself from work so it doesn’t invade your personal life.
  3. Keyboards and screens: You can spend a lot on your computer but the fastest system in the world with the greatest capacity is useless if you don’t like using it. When you buy your computer, think carefully about the screen and keyboard/mouse. Try a few and be prepared spend a little more. You don’t spend your time touching the CPU and looking at the memory. While those things are important, a decent screen and keyboard can make an ordinary computer far more user-friendly.
  4. Chairs and desks: With desks, as long they are wide and deep enough, the big issue is height. Match your chair and desk with your body shape so that you’re comfortable while working.
  5. Noise and music: We all have different preferences when it comes to ambient noise. If you like music while you work, a decent set of speakers doesn’t have to cost a fortune and will make a big difference over inbuilt monitor or laptop speakers

Get out

It’s really important to get out of the home office every now and then. Social interactions with actual human beings is great for helping you avoid depression, learning new things, making friends and getting some vitamin D.
There’s some research (summarised in this article) suggesting working alone all the time may not be healthy.
I’m a fan of spending some time at the local library, a cafe, a co-working space or anywhere you can mix with other people to share ideas and gain new insights.

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