I’ve been self employed and working from home for just over four years now; my anniversary popped up on LinkedIn last week. In four years I’ve gone from sitting on the sofa with a laptop propped up on a cushion, to a desk in the corner of the living room, to – now that we’ve moved house – a desk in the corner of our dining room. As well as running this blog, I also have my work website (VickyCharles.com), I maintain blogs and social media for several different clients in a wide range of niches, and I also work two days a week for an agency writing their copy. Oh, and I sell weight loss coffee in my spare time, and do a little bookkeeping here and there. So my desk needs to be functional for all of these things.
Here are my tips for setting up your desk for working from home:
- First, list the tasks you do most often. These are the things that should be easiest when you get to your working space. For me, the thing I do most often is write – so my laptop needs to be in the centre of my desk, and I need space beside it for a notepad etc.
- If you already have a work space, remove everything from it and start from scratch. This will allow you to only put back the things you genuinely do use. When I did this, I found that there were lots of things taking up space on my desk that really didn’t belong there!
- Organise your office supplies. I don’t know about you, but over the years I have amassed a huge amount of office supplies – and most of them are not things I need to use on a daily basis! Once I realised this fairly basic fact, I also realised that I could put most of my supplies in a storage box underneath my desk – thus giving me more space for working! Engelbert Strauss has a big selection of office supplies.
- Consider what storage or extra space you might need. I have three laptops for my work – each has a slightly different purpose. One of them I use for Skype video calls with clients, so it needs to be easily accessible, close to a charging point, on a flat surface and so on. As well as this I have a great deal of notebooks, paperwork and other paraphernalia which is not needed on a daily basis, but does need to be within arm’s reach. When we moved here and I had decided where my desk would be, my first action was to buy a small shelving unit like this one from George to stand next to the desk. This is where the laptops sit when they are not in use, and where I store notebooks and paperwork.
- Keep things where they will be used. I could have put all of my office supplies in the cupboard on the other side of the room, or even in another cupboard elsewhere – but I only ever use them when I’m at my desk, so it makes sense to keep them near my desk, just not on top of it because they won’t be used every day.
- Re-assess on a regular basis. I am a very messy person, but I need my writing space to be clear and easy to use. Every couple of weeks I remove the clutter from my desk and start again with what needs to be on the desk and what can be filed away. This stops me from ending up with huge, teetering piles of paperwork or general junk on my desk, and means there’s always space for my coffee and my bullet journal next to my laptop when I begin work in the mornings!
Since I started being more strict with myself about how my work space is laid out, I have actually been more productive – something I wasn’t actually expecting! I think it has something to do with the fact I can just sit down at my desk in the mornings and begin work, without having to move piles of things around to make space first. Similarly, when someone wants to have a Skype call I can just open the laptop and crack on, without wasting time finding somewhere to put it and so on.
I really think taking a little time to organise one’s workspace can pay dividends in the long run. As well as having a tidy desk, I now feel inspired and ready to go when I arrive at my desk in the mornings.
What does your workspace look like?