How to Boost Your Productivity at Work with the Perfect Desk Setup

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Your bed and your desk are where you spend the vast majority of your time. People go to great lengths to find the perfect bed and spend time finding the right setup for their bedroom, yet the workspace can often be overlooked.

How you set up your desk and workspace is just as important as your bedroom design. The benefits of the perfect workspace are undeniable.  A better workspace will make you happier, healthier, and your productivity will increase. Coming to work will be a joy when you love your workspace.

Here’s five ways you can make your desk and workspace area much more productive.

Decorate Your Desk

Studies have shown that allowing individuals to decorate their workspaces increases employee productivity. Believe it or not, your co-worker’s snow globe is actually making them more productive.

You have to spend a great deal of time at your desk, eight hours or more in a given day.  Make those eight hours more pleasant with an atmosphere that caters to your taste and interests. It’s not uncommon to see things like photos of friends and loved ones, paintings from  children, or rec league trophies at someone’s desk. How you decorate is entirely up to you, but it’s important for your well-being that you do.  

Think of your clean, undecorated desk as the default option, similar to your iPad when you first pull it out of its case. What apps will make you happy and productive? Candy Crush for when you're stuck on the subway, Slack for collaborating with coworkers, Uber for when the subway fails, and a maybe a shortcut icon to your favorite conference room scheduling system. I’m sure you’d prefer Candy Crush to the Google Calendar room availability app wouldn’t you? Everything on your desk doesn’t have to be about work. Use your imagination to add things to your desk to make it your own and you’ll see an improvement in your work.

Find Natural Light

Natural light in the office boosts health. The more exposure an individual has to natural light on a daily basis has a direct impact on their overall health.

Greater exposure to natural light leads to longer and better quality sleep, more physical activity, and an overall better quality of life than someone who isn’t exposed to natural sunlight.

Employees with windows are exposed to 173 percent more light than employees without window access. This increase in light exposure lead to an average of 46 more minutes of sleep per night.

If you can, get a desk with a window. If that’s not possible, many conference rooms have a great deal of sunlight. Check to see if your company has a conference room scheduling system that would make booking a conference room for an hour each day easy. At the very least, you can schedule one hour a day in the sunlight. Your body will thank you.

Add a Plant to Your Workspace

Keeping a plant alive might be a tall task for some, but it’s a worthwhile endeavor at the office. Studies show that a plant at your desk actually helps increase productivity.

Plants aren’t just a nice visual to have at your desk. Our brains work hard every day to concentrate on direct tasks. As the day progresses, this constant focus causes mental fatigue. We lose mental acuity. One way to refresh our direct attention is through sleep. But during the day, when that’s not possible, plants are a great alternative. They offer “micro-restoration,” which means that plants give our brains effortless engagement throughout the day, recharging our ability to concentrate is short amounts of time.

Norwegian researchers ran a test in 2011 that required subjects to read a few sentences and were asked to remember the last word they read. Then the researchers divided the group into two groups and administered the test again. Half were at the same, plain desk. The other half had plants and foliage at the desk. Only the group with plants at their desk improved their scores.

If you’re not quite a botanist, perhaps a peppermint plant is your best option.

Choose the Right Desk

Sometimes you have no choice and you just have to use the desk you’re given. But if you’re fortunate enough to be able to choose your desk, there are many different options out there.

If you’re looking at a traditional desk, you’ll have to take into consideration things like material, color, and finish. Do you want a dark, wood desk? Or do you prefer glass with stainless steel edging? While it might not seem like a big deal, your desk is part of how you decorate your workspace. You’ll be staring at your desk for hours; it should be something you love.

For those that have the means and prefer not to use a traditional desk, there are fun options available. Standing desks and walking desks are becoming increasingly common in the workplace.  

Sitting is the new smoking (which is why some companies have implemented conference room solutions, like mandating standing only meetings) and there are plenty of health benefits of a standing desk. A standing desk can reduce obesity and cardiovascular disease, decrease the likelihood of Type 2 Diabetes, and lower your risk for cancer. If you’re not ready to fully commit to a standing desk, don’t worry. I took about two months to transition away from a sitting desk, and most of my friends who stand at their desks have talked about their transitionary period. If you prefer to both sit and stand, there’s many great adjustable height standing desks. One of my personal favorites for both design and functionality is designed and built by Erik Rueda Design Lab. Dubbed the Sit Stand desk, the desk is as beautiful as it is functional.

Sit/Stand Desk by Erik Rueda Design Lab

Treadmill desks take the standing desk a step further. Instead of standing upright all day, a treadmill desk lets you walk at a constant slow pace throughout the day (no more than 2 miles per hour). Not only is this better for your health, but a University of Minnesota study indicates treadmill desks boost productivity.

Choose Curvy Objects

As you choose your desk and are deciding what to decorate your workspace with, consider this: people prefer curvy shapes.

The shape of different objects elicits different emotions. For example, sharper objects can trigger a threatening feeling and a negative bias while curvy shaped objects bring a more calming feeling. If you’re having trouble finding suitable things to decorate your workspace with, jump start your search by honing in on curvy shapes, like this.

Take your workspace seriously. Every choice you make when designing your workspace will impact your happiness and productivity. Follow these five tips and you’ll have your perfect desk setup.