Before you get started saving pins for home office desk ideas on Pinterest or ordering hand-painted filing cabinets on Etsy, Rachel Rosenthal, an organization expert and founder of Rachel and Company, says you need to take a good, hard look at the space you're working with. Consider the following three factors:
- Location: "Find a spot that is going to allow you what you need to work," says Rosenthal. "Do you need it to be behind a closed door to make you feel productive? By a window? At the kitchen table so you can also monitor the kids?" Once you've answered those questions, you should be able to sniff out the spot that's just right for you.
- The "other" items: You don't want your work environment to be packed with items that aren't useful to you—so identify those things, then either move them or let them go. "You want your home office and desk to be free of any other clutter that doesn’t contribute to a productive work environment," Rosenthal says.
- The purpose(s) this space needs to serve: "Finally, if you are setting up your office in an area of your home that you need at other times, like your kitchen table, make sure you are mindful of what you are bringing into the space so you can easily clear it out when needed," says Rosenthal.
Once you've carved out your own little corner of the house (your "room of one's own"), Rosenthal says to consider what you'll need to add to the space to feel supported, creative, and free. Luckily, though, it's 2020—when so much of work is digital anyway—and Rosenthal points out that many differences between our modern workspaces and more traditional ones of the past tend to work in our home office setup's favor. "Technology allows us all to be much more connected to our jobs. From email and online file storage to video conferencing, we are more connected than ever, allowing us to really work from anywhere with the internet," she says.
Yes, the convenience factor that technology introduces into modern-day work means we need to draw (heavy) lines in the sand to make sure we're not working 14-hour days, but it also means you can keep your space minimal, clean, and as smart as you are. "This lean work setup will allow you to not let your office overtake your home so you still have that sanctuary to escape to at the end of the day," says Rosenthal. Below, she offers eight home office desk ideas to make sure your space is doing the work to help you work.
8 home office desk ideas, because you should feel inspired within your own four walls
1. Clear the clutter (like, all of it)
"A lot of the time, clutter impacts a person's creativity and productivity," says Rosenthal. "Make sure your office area is free from unnecessary things that you do not need for work purposes, and concentrate on what is necessary." That means the book you're reading, your resistance bands, and—yes—probably your phone, too, can be stowed away for later use.
2. Make smaller work "zones" within your larger workspace
Your entire desk doesn't have to serve a singular purpose. Instead, Rosenthal recommends slicing up the space so that you can complete different types of tasks. "Creating different work zones will allow you to organize what you are working on and where you are working," says Rosenthal.
"Creating different work zones will allow you to organize what you are working on and where you are working." —Rachel Rosenthal, organizational expert
"First, set up a computer zone for all work on your computer or laptop. Next, set up a place to do non-computer work, like work with paper and notebooks. This zone can be in the same office area, but make sure it is separate and not filled with computer cords, monitors, or more."
3. Narrow down the items on your desk to two categories
According to Rosenthal, your desk should only be home to two types of things: objects that inspire you and objects that make you more productive. A framed photo of your dog and a stapler could, respectively, fit these criteria. Any item that doesn't fulfill one of those needs doesn't deserve any surface area of your precious WFH setup.
4. Add a pen cup and a journal—whether you hand-write your to-do lists or not
"Little details, like keeping pens within reach, will help keep you in that work mind-set even when you are away from the office," says Rosenthal.
5. If your job requires paper, buy a paper "in and out" tray
Even if you're working digitally, if your job does require good, old-fashioned printer paper, Rosenthal recommends organizing the loose leaf to the best of your abilities. "I find it helpful to use one for incoming paper and one for paper that has already been worked on to help avoid any paper clutter," she says. You can also opt for a file cabinet to keep your documents from piling up.
6. Organize your cords like it's your second job
Cord straps are one of those tiny-yet-mighty inventions that don't receive nearly enough adulation—and Rosenthal says that every work-from-homer should own at least a few to keep their chargers from taking over their space.
Shop: Wrap-It Self-Gripping Storage Straps ($14)
7. Go for the split-keyboard-and-monitor-riser combo
Get ready WFH friends—this is a power move: Once you get used to the split keyboard—which makes drafting more seamless for even the most skilled of typers—you won't want to go back. Pair that with a monitor riser or a standing desk and you just. can't. lose.
8. Splurge on an ergonomic chair
"As far as a chair goes, I would look for ones that have great lumbar support," says Rosenthal. "The more you love the way your chair looks and how it feels after sitting in it several hours a day, the more likely it will be that you go to it and feel organized and productive."
As far as a chair that supports your posture goes, physical therapist Corrine Croce of New York City’s Body Evolved previously told Well+Good that you'll want to adjust the armrests so that your upper body forms a 90-degree angle from your fingertips to your shoulders. “The problem is when the wrists are not in line with the forearm and the fingers are not in line with the wrists," she said.
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