3 Simple Ways to Redesign Your Workspace for Productivity

girl at desk working

Do you suffer from workspace envy? It’s alright, this is a safe place. We’re not here to judge. We have the condition too, in fact. There’s something desirable about those perfectly curated home offices we see plastered across Instagram. You know the ones… complete with their reclaimed wooden desks, artfully organized bulletin boards, indoor succulent gardens, funky colorful wall décor, and Himalayan salt lamps. 

Sure, it’s not always possible to overhaul an entire workspace so it resembles something out of a social media fantasy. But there are some affordable, low maintenance reconfigurations you can make to optimize both aesthetics and function. These basic upgrades can also boost your job performance. Whether you grind it out at home or in an office, here’s how to redesign your workspace for productivity. 

Declutter Your Work Surface

How much time do you waste sifting around for that one crucial memo in the pile of documents that’s been accumulating on your desk for months? Too much clutter will distract you from higher priority tasks. This can cause you to feel more anxious and overwhelmed, resulting in procrastination, a recent study points out.

Even just seeing clutter in your field of vision can trigger the stress hormone cortisol which increases the risk of depression, emotional fatigue, decision paralysis and errors on the job, based on another report. But on the flipside, an organized workspace can help the brain focus clearly, process information efficiently and tackle projects in a timely manner. Below are some tips on how to start decluttering your work surface for maximum functionality:

Tips for decluttering your desk

  • Digitize as many files or documents as possible to reduce the amount of hardcopy materials.
  • Sort your remaining desktop clutter into three categories: DISCARD, FILE and REARRANGE.
  • Throw away extraneous documents, then transfer the documents you need into labeled folders. Store them in a container or filing cabinet that’s off the work surface.
  • Designate a place for all office supplies, so they’re not scattered all over the desktop.
  • Use a cord organizer to keep power cords or electrical cables untangled.

Play with Natural Colors, Lights, and Elements

If the office environment is too dark or monotone, don’t expect much innovation and enthusiasm to seep into your workflow. But an infusion of vibrant colors, natural light and organic elements into the space can make all the difference in productivity. This is called biophilic design, and its purpose is to translate the restorative benefits of nature inside. 

Biophilic design is an eco-friendly initiative because, instead of synthetic office furniture or décor, it leans into raw materials such as unrefined wood, iron, stone, bamboo and hemp fibers, which have a lower carbon footprint. Research also indicates  that working in a biophilic space can enhance cognitive function, as well as minimize stress and anxiety.

Access to direct natural light is another part of the biophilic design aesthetic, and it’s essential to your job performance too. According to scientists, offices with natural light can help decrease eye strain, blurred vision and headaches by almost 85 percent, while reducing the effects of drowsiness by 10 percent. So illuminate and nature-ify (is that a real word?) your workspace with these easy and accessible biophilic design ideas:  

  • Move your desk close to a window or position it to face directly at a natural light source. Then if you need some extra brightness, find a lamp for your work surface and use an LED bulb with a luminosity of 5,500–7,000K. This range is the optimal intensity to maintain alertness, increase mood state and lower fatigue. 
  • Bring cool, earth-inspired colors such as blue and green into the environment. These two shades are known to reinforce satisfaction, calmness, intrinsic motivation and creativity. Some ideas might be to decorate the space with indoor plants, situate a few crystals or a water feature on the desktop, and hang natural landscape photos on the wall.

Take Your Office Ergonomics into Account

Finally, don’t ignore the comfort of your workspace too. With all the time you spend here, it’s crucial to make sure the ergonomics allow for correct body alignment and posture, while alleviating physical tension. If you work in conditions that place strain on your joints and muscles, this can drain energy levels and force a decline in productivity. So be sure to examine your current ergonomics, and make the following shifts if necessary.

Quick tips for ergonomics

  • Adjust the computer screen parallel to your natural sightline to relieve pressure from your neck, shoulders and upper back.
  • Place your mouse and keyboard in line with your elbows and wrists to protect them from hyperextension.
  • If possible, regulate the temperature to whatever feels most comfortable and makes it easier to focus.
  • Invest in these purchases if you can afford to: an angled footrest to cushion the feet and ankles; a supportive chair to align the neck and spine; an adjustable desk that allows you to stand while working to reduce muscle stiffness.

An Optimized Workspace Equals an Unstoppable Workflow. 

With these simple but effective adjustments, you’ll be joining the ranks of #WorkspaceGoals in no time. And it doesn’t even require an enormous design budget to pull off! When your surroundings inspire focus, calm, alertness, organization and creativity, there is no stopping the hustle. So create your own personal flow zone—and tell us about it in the comment section below!  

About Author

Mary-Elizabeth Meagher is a freelance writer, social media marketer, travel enthusiast, musical theatre nerd and self-described bohemian. She lives and seeks adventure in the Arizona desert, and she also blogs over at Health Be a Hippie—her personal contribution to making the internet a more authentic, vulnerable and empowering place.

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