How to Design a Better Workspace

Morgan Danielle

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(Photo by Vadim Sherbakov/Unsplash)

Recently I made my living room into an office. Weird choice? Maybe. But it set me to thinking more about how the way we design our space directly affects the amount of work we complete and the way we feel while doing it.

Whether you work from home, spend overtime at the office, or are a bit mixed mode when it comes to your work-life — understanding the anatomy of a productive workspace is bound to work wonders.

I can’t claim the ‘Living Room Home Office’ as my own idea. My boyfriend made the suggestion, standing in the middle of our 900 square foot apartment. We were working with a space budget and we hadn’t been spending it wisely. As working college students, entertaining at our home isn’t part of a normal week - yet our home was optimized for it.

A week ago my desk was pushed into a lonesome corner of the house beside the laundry room. I avoided my ‘office’ at all costs. Instead, I would use the bedroom floor, the coffee table, or the kitchen counter as a makeshift workspace. Not good alternatives when trying to boost my productivity.

I needed a space to call home and the living room setup was an ignored possibility. With some arranging and time, we were able to structure an airy space that still made room for all the essentials and a bonus desk which allowed us both to work in the same room.

It was this project that inspired this article. With some restructuring, we managed to set up the vital system needed for our workspace — the structure that kept it from sliding into chaos. Thinking about your working space as its own living being can help you make better decisions about how you organize your space. Let's take a closer look and see how you can improve your space.

Your Space is Your Skeleton

My newly designed space, set up with everything that I need on a daily basis within grasp.

With the right desk, the right lamp, and the right chair you’re bound to accomplish anything. It’s time to decide if your space is serving you correctly.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • Is your desk too large or too small?
  • Do you share a desk? (You might consider purchasing a second one.)
  • Are there folders on the floor? (Add another bookcase.)
  • Is your space bright or dark enough? (Personally, I enjoy working near windows and so I claimed the desk closer to our sliding glass door.)
  • Does your chair properly support your body? (Does your neck or back hurt when you sit there? It might be time to consider a replacement or fresh cushioning.)

Remember, the space and the furniture within it is the glue of your workspace. Is it doing its job effectively?

Your Organizational Systems Make-Up the Muscles of Your Workspace

Your muscles make it possible to move from one end of the room to another. This is much like how the way you have your space organized helps you move from one task to the next.

We need to keep our muscles toned to keep them working at their most efficient just as we need to review our organizational systems to make sure that there are no glaring speedbumps slowing us down.

This ranges from where you keep your pens and paper to how well organized your laptop files are. When you complete a project do you know where to store the file? If not you may want to give your organization a review and assign it a workout regime. Crunch a few papers and lunge away from messy filing.

Pay Attention to the Tools You Use-They're Your Cardiovascular System

Our tools are at the heart of what we do. They help us keep the work flowing. Maybe your tool is simple and just requires a pen and internet access. Maybe it’s a bit more complex and you need specific software. No matter your situation, keeping the tools necessary to keep the work flowing is essential for workspace productivity.

My essential tools span from Constant Contact to index cards. Identify your essential tools and keep those in working order. Maybe you need to consider upgrading a platform subscription or investing in a higher-quality printer.

Whatever keeps the lifeblood of your workspace running, invest in that.

Refresh the Respiratory System of Your Desk

Your respiratory system in your body removes carbon dioxide and brings oxygen to your cells. The workplace equivalent can be represented by those items you keep around because they bring joy. Maybe you have a quirky mug you always drink your morning coffee from. (And your midday coffee, afternoon coffee, and ‘What the hell, I’ll have another cup.’ coffee.) Or possibly it’s a sign emblazoned with your favorite quote, an oil diffuser, or a picture of your pet.

These things remind you throughout the day to be happy. They keep you going. Let’s not lie to ourselves. No matter how much you love your job, sometimes it’s a bit too much. These tokens of our personality and happiness in physical form keep us content.

So dress your space up a bit. And yes, do hold onto that stress ball. It helps.

Feeling Some Indigestion? Might Be Your Processes Acting Up

During the day I work in a marketing department and at night I work from home as a writer. These roles require different processes. But when the processes are disturbed in either space I can feel the shift.

Your processes and systems are your digestive system. This is similar to organization but not quite. Your organization focuses more on the areas where you keep things physically in your office, whereas your processes focus on the tasks moving through a pipeline. These tasks could be physical or intangibles.

If you lose sight of a project’s progress or miss a deadline it’s a sign that your productivity digestive system is out of whack.

For example — as a writer I know what stage my WIPs are in at all times, I have an estimated time of completion, and they all have a respective location for the various stages they fall into. As my projects work through their pipeline I don’t lose sight of where they’re at and it keeps the confusion to a minimum.

Your processes will vary depending on the tasks you complete. My 9-to-5 requires different processes than my work as a writer. The goal is to find the system that gets your task from infancy to completion with no backups or hangups.

Don’t constipate the process, people.

So Maybe This Is Silly…

But it got you thinking about your workspace in an entirely new way. I guarantee that when you sit down at your desk tomorrow morning you’ll have the itch to play a bit of Operation with the setup of your desk.

Now it’s your turn. Take some time to access the overall health of your workspace. Meanwhile, I’m going to get back to working on my muscular system, I could definitely use some toning up in that department.

And remember: We spend a lot of time in a work environment. Let’s keep our space healthy.

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Orlando-Based Creative | Copywriter and Content Strategist Creating content about activities in Orlando, and creative living here in the sunshine state.

Orlando, FL
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