work space
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15 Features of the Perfect Work Space

photo credit: kogakure. No workspace is complete without a Samurai long sword.

There’s no getting around it. Working environments are one of the biggest factors that affect how productive we can be throughout the day. There’s a major difference between spending time in a tidy, aesthetic area or a bowling alley dumpster. It may have worked alright for Oscar the Grouch, but as his name implies, he wasn’t much fun to be around. And who can blame him?

Yes, there are  many factors that go into creating a great working environment. I’ve compiled a list of the 15 main components that I believe to be pretty important in creating a killer workspace. While individually they aren’t end-all solutions, together they can create something that even Oscar could appreciate.

  1. Good drinks: coffee, tea, etc. – A comforting beverage is great for a helpful work environment. It’s a small perk, but every little bit helps.
  2. Nice view – If you’re working out of your closet, odds are you don’t have very good natural sunlight or an aesthetically pleasing view. Try putting the desk near a window to add some natural lighting and something interesting to look at every now and again.
  3. Good chair – Oh my. If there was one piece of furniture that I’d gladly plunk down some coin for, it’s the office chair. It will really make or break your overall working experience. It’s one of those items that the more you pay for, the better it will be.
  4. Foliage – Add some carbon-munching plants around your office. They can provide some color and fun to any workplace.
  5. Fountains – There’s nothing quite as relaxing as the sound of running water. Try adding a little fountain in your office to add this relaxing noise. However, don’t make the mistake of buying a mammoth fountain that’s usually reserved for the gardens. It will totally dominate the noise of the room and will make you have to pee every 2.5 minutes on average. Not great for productivity.
  6. Non-distracting music – I’ve found that a little jazz, world, rhythm or classical background music helps lighten the mood, and can even help focus. Some people can focus with any kind of music, but I’ve found that the stuff without words typically works the best. To each his own though. Oh… one rule. No Michael Bolton.
  7. Great lighting – This can make a huge difference on your eyes. It’s a major problem for your eyes to stare at a flickering light like a computer screen for hours on end. Ensuring that you have proper lighting will take some of the strain off of your eyes.
  8. No clutter – Clutter is an aesthetic problem as well as a mental problem. Cluttered work spaces give create cluttered thinking. Your mind will never be as clear as it could be with a messy, unorganized environment. This also includes your desktop clutter as well. (ZenHabits has a great post on how to reduce clutter for extra reading.)
  9. Your own space – You have to have a place to call your own in order to get into the flow of work. A place where your brain can say “ahh… this is where the magic happens” and productivity abounds.
  10. Manageable work loads – Unrealistic work loads will nag at your psyche all day long. Your productivity will curl up into the fetal position and start sucking it’s thumb faster than you can utter “GTD” if you consistently set unmanageable work loads for the day.
  11. Become unplugged –  I’ve found that the best way to become productive isn’t by adding tools, it’s taking them away. Doing as much as you can with the smallest amount of tools is an incredible way to really focus on the task at hand. Using simple, offline tools work wonders for sparking creativity and efficiency. If you’re a web developer, try offline environments like Mamp. If you’re a write, use simple text editors. Unplug from the Internet and only use it as needed. Wi-Fi is overrated, my friends.
  12. Breaks – Working with rests is incredibly critical to ensuring that you’re going to get the most out of your day. I’ve argued before that these breaks improve efficiency and creativity.
  13. Exercise – The typical modern office or homeworker leads a pretty sedentary lifestyle. Health can drastically go down hill if we don’t take care of ourselves and exercise. This isn’t an option: it’s a must. Aside from all the health benefits of exercise, there are lots of great work benefits as well.
  14. Great desktop wallpaper – While it’s a small aesthetic thing, it can make a huge difference. Clean, fun or just different desktop patterns changed every now and again can add little spice to your workday, and can provide a slight boost. If you’re a mac user, try Desklickr. It automatically changes your desktop at certain intervals to high-quality pictures from Flickr. Variety is the spice of life, friends.
  15. Treadmill-desk – This is possibly one of the greatest ideas a web worker can implement. Want to burn calories and work on a computer? Look no further than the treadmill desk, as shared to me by Jonathan Fields. A very quick hack can get you working on your treadmill in no time, burning calories while cranking away.