Tidy desk, tidy mind
Or so they say, anyway. Whatever the general consensus is, I do find that I tend to work better and be in a better frame of mind if my space is tidy. That doesn’t mean that I’m great at keeping it tidy, because both my mum and my floordrobe will attest to my bad habits, but I do try my best.
With the start of a new year at university looming, it seemed like a good opportunity to rejig my workspace a bit and get myself ready for the long days of studying that lie ahead. Yes, I will find any excuse for “productive procrastination” as I possibly can. I mean, it’s worked, because here I am writing this blog post from my nice tidy desk.
My favourite Pinterest board is my workspace inspiration board, which I add to most days. I’m mostly saving inspiration for the day when I finally buy a house and have a spare room to turn into a beautiful office, as opposed to shoving a desk into a corner of my cramped room – but it still comes in handy in the meantime.
If you, like me, find that having a nice workspace works wonders for your productivity, then here are some of my top tips for creating a workspace that really works, no matter how much space you have.
Notepad & notebook – Annie Dornan Smith
Never look back, never give up print – Cawligraphy
Set the mood
Lighting is so important for me, and you’ll nearly always find me working as close to a window as I possibly can. I find that I’m naturally attracted to nice lighting. I dream of big bay windows and glass conservatories with light flooding in, so tend to gravitate towards the lightest spots to work from. A well-lit space will be kinder on your eyes, too, and as someone with ever-deteriorating eyesight, I find that my eyes get tired fast if I don’t have good lighting when I’m working.
With the winter months fast approaching I’m painfully aware of the reducing daylight hours, but I’ll happily substitute natural light for a cosy candle, a good lamp or some cute little fairy lights. Whatever the source, good lighting is key for me, as it helps to keep me awake and focused. Plus, there’s something about a nice candle that makes me feel like I have my shit together, which is always good for my productivity levels.
Keep it clean
I used to be a bit of a hoarder, but I’m finding now that clutter stresses me out a bit. I’m by no means a minimalist and I love some good accessories for a workspace, but too much irrelevant crap proves distracting. I try to limit myself these days and find that it helps me focus if my workspace is clear of distractions.
I have two desks (it’s too far, I know), with my iMac set up in the back room downstairs for “work” work and a desk in my room where I usually do coursework from my laptop. It’s not a setup I plan on continuing when I eventually move out, as I hate having a desk in my bedroom because it makes it harder to switch off and I’m prone to dumping all of my crap (hello washing I can’t be bothered putting away yet) on there.
I tell myself that it’ll be easier to keep my desk tidy when I have a house of my own, but I know I’ll still have to make a concentrated effort to sort it out. It helps, though, so it’ll be worth keeping up.
I am very prone to distraction, particularly if I need to stop what I’m doing to rifle through some drawers to find what I need. I’m looking at you, random charging cables. In a vague attempt to reduce my distraction time, I like to keep everything I need within easy reach. My desk has lots of storage, which I love, but even then I can still lose half an hour “rediscovering” everything I’ve put away in the drawers.
As a result, I keep my most used bits and bobs on my desk, right in front of me. Sarah bought me this beautiful wire grid for my birthday and I love that it has a little storage section at the bottom to keep things handy. On my desk, you’ll usually find spare memory cards, assorted pencils and highlighters, multiple notebooks and an array of hand creams to see me through even the longest study session.
I do usually keep snacks nearby too, but they don’t last long. Sometimes a break to make a cup of tea and grab something from the kitchen is a good way to break up an intense work period – or a good excuse to go see what my cats are up to.
I’m one of those people who loves a good motivational quote, so you’ll usually find a nice print by my desk. When I have a whole home office to fill, I’ll probably end up with an entire gallery wall of the kick-ass quote prints I’ve been collecting over the years. It’s really important to me to have a workspace that’s both inviting and inspirational, so I do like to have little bits and bobs that make me smile on display.
Outside of prints and candles, my favourite way to bring a bit of sunshine to my desk is flowers. They just make me happy, so I try to make a habit of buying them for myself regularly. Pretty stationery also helps and I’m a sucker for a good notebook. I’ve actually started finishing my notebooks now, so I can totally justify buying lots.
I could probably decorate a home office a hundred times over with all of the ideas I have saved up in my head. Being self-employed and a student means that I spend a lot of time at a desk – so it’s nice to have a welcoming environment to work in. It makes it that little bit easier to put in the long hours poring over a textbook or catching up on emails, don’t you think?
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