In which I offer some tips for setting up a workspace that will inspire you to be productive!
If you write blog posts, stories, or poems, or if you make videos or draw or paint—no matter what you do, you need a place to do it, right? You need a workspace.
That workspace can be your couch or random coffee shops or the local library or a hot air balloon, if you like. But sometimes it’s nice to have a desk as well, if you have the ability to do so. Now, I’ve had some people tell me that they never get any work done at their desk. One possible reason is that they haven’t set up a workspace that is inspiring and right for them. So today, I’m going to share some tips for doing just that.
Things To Consider:
In the real world, you might not always have a choice in where to put your desk. It will go where you have room for it, even if that means its in a high-traffic area of your home. If that’s your only option, you can still make it work. However, if it’s possible, try moving it to a quieter location. Ideally, one with a door. Even more ideally, one with a door that locks. If it doesn’t lock, build a barricade… Or, just put out a “do not disturb” sign. (But building a barricade is more fun).
Also consider windows. Does being able to glance out the window inspire you or distract you? If the view is ugly or distracting, you can always hang some curtains that can be closed. If you are easily distracted, it might be better to face a wall. I turned my desk to face the wall, with the window to my right. That way, instead of seeing the side of the house when I glance up, I can look at my bulletin boards. But if I need a glimpse of the sky, I can glance to my right.
Do not overlook such mundane considerations as whether you have electrical outlets in reach and whether the lighting is adequate.
How Much Space Do You Need?
If all you do at your desk is use the computer, go ahead and have a cute, tiny desk. For example:
As cute as these are, I can tell you right now that none of them would work for me. Why? Because I need space to for my laptop, spreading out books, notes, charts, etc., as well as having a place for my snack and my coffee. Even my current desk isn’t really big enough. If I had a tinier desk, I wouldn’t do any work at it.
But, if you mostly just use the computer at your desk, then something cute and tiny would work perfectly for you, and a big desk would be unnecessary.
So when you’re setting up your workspace, don’t just go by what looks cute on Pinterest. Think about what will actually be functional for you.
Are You a Minimalist, or No?
My brother, Keegan, has a very modern, sleek desk set-up. No knick-knacks. I, on the other hand, like a gently cluttered look. I used to spend hours looking through “I Spy” books; not searching for the objects, just gazing at the pictures. I loved the tiny things—buttons, bottles, miniature objects. I loved that there was so much going on. I need to have stuff to look at.
If you need clear spaces to be calm, only put the essentials on your desk, and have storage nearby so that you have a place to put any supplies you use. Likewise, if you love having interesting things to look at, consider storing some of your office supplies out in the open, in unique containers. For example, I have this shadow box in which I store small supplies in tiny bottles and little clear containers.
What To Include:
You should start with all the main components and essentials: Computer, lamp, writing utensils, etc. It’s a good idea to have index cards, sticky notes, and notebooks for jotting things down. A clock might be handy as well. Do you tend to have a lot of papers? It may be a good idea to have a tray, magazine holder, letter sorter, or something else to keep your papers organized. Nothing is more stressful and space-eating than stacks of papers on your work-surface.
I have an easel on my desk. It holds my planner, and I can also set papers there or stick notes to it. It’s a great place to put to-do lists and other things I want to have in my line of site. It’s not necessarily its intended usage, but it works. Before you rush out to an office supply store, look at what you already have. That way, it won’t only be functional, it will also have character.
Make It Personal.
Photos of pets, family, etc. can inspire you while you work. It doesn’t have to be a typical family portrait, though. I have a vintage look going on in my room, so I have a very old photograph of my relatives. It’s a personal touch that fits with the look I’ve got.
I also have part of my teacup collection on shelves above my desk. They’re lovely to look at, and meaningful to me.
Like Something? Run With It.
Everything on your desk should make you smile. Think about what makes you happy. For example, I have a fondness for office accessories in the shape of animals. It started with this little guy, a bulldog tape dispenser from target:
Then, I got this tortoise-shaped magnifying glass at a thrift store:
And finally, this peacock letter holder, also from a thrift store:
My little zoo is all gold-toned, so they tie together quite nicely.
Have a Bulletin Board With Useful Stuff
I have cork squares with charts and helpful notes for writing (for example, a chart of all the personality types and their traits, one with examples of body language for different emotions, a note reminding me what to include in every scene, etc.)
Also on my bulletin board is a pocket to hold bookmarks. Since I also read at my desk, it’s nice to have those in arm’s reach. Bulletin boards don’t have to just be utilitarian. I also have a couple of cute bookmarks from a local bookstore that make me smile pinned up there.
We talked about this a little earlier, but it’s worth its own heading. Think about storage when you’re setting up your space. I will always regret that my desk doesn’t have drawers. If you have a lot of papers or supplies, think about that, and choose one with drawers, if possible. I have a file box, magazine holder, and basket under my desk to keep some of my stuff in, so there are solutions if you don’t have drawers. Also, having a lot of different storage containers on a tray is always fun:
The good thing about trays is that if you need more desk space, they can always be moved.
So, to wrap up, your workspace should be in a good location, reflect your personal style and needs, and have storage systems in place so that you can get the most out of it. It should be a place where you feel happy and productive.
In part 2, we’ll examine two workspaces and why they work.
What’s your workspace like? I’d love to hear about it!