Your desk. It’s the place where you work your ass off eight (or ten… or twelve) hours a day to make your best ideas come to life. Considering how much time you spend at your workstation, and how valuable that time is, you want your desk to be as well-equipped and full of life as can be, so it can be one you actually enjoy spending most of your weekday hours behind. To that end, a few strategic desk upgrades can go a long way towards make your workspace feel like a new environment. Hopefully, it’ll one conducive to brilliance you didn’t even know you were capable of.
It’s hard to get anything done when you have to get up and stretch every few minutes to give an achy lower back a rest.
Keep Your Computer at Eye Level
If your laptop or monitor rests directly on your desk and you have to look at a downward angle to see what you’re typing, you’re in for some serious neck soreness and eye fatigue. Make use of an elevated laptop stand to keep your screen at eye level, and a bluetooth keyboard to keep your wrists comfortable and resting on the desk in front of you. Or in a pinch, a stack of books works just fine.
If you’re really looking for a new feel while you’re working, standing desks have been gaining a ton of traction in serious work environments over the last few years. They’re often found in newer, younger office settings, and make working behind a desk for hours at a time a lot easier if you’re restless and prone to back soreness.
If you decide to go this route, you’ll need to purchase (or build) some sort of stand that keeps your laptop and monitors at eye-level. It can be tricky or expensive, sure, but it’s something a lot of people swear by, for good reason. Our advice: give standing at your desk a try with a makeshift stand and see how you feel before making a purchase. If you find you like to switch between sitting and standing throughout the day, there are plenty of folding desk attachments out there that don’t take up much space, but give you the option to prop up a rising stand so you can work on your feet for a while.
How bright your work environment is can make all the difference in your alertness and mood while you’re toiling away. So lighting should be thoughtfully considered no matter whether you’re in a corner office, home office, or a shared workspace.
If shutting off those harsh overhead lights is an option, it’s highly recommended. Natural light is always the best replacement, but if you’re not near a window, opt for a tall lamp that you can set up beside your desk if you’ve got the room, or a smaller, artful desk lamp you can have to yourself.
Full-spectrum incandescent bulbs are best for office lamps, because they’re better at mimicking natural sunlight than any other man-made light source available – and that helps with mood, productivity, visual clarity, and mental alertness, even if it's subtle.Bonus points if whatever lamp you’re using has a dimmer so you can tone it down as your day is wrapping up, or brighten up if you’re looking to crank out a solid hour of super-productive work.
A sure way to liven up a desk is to add something natural to your man-made surroundings. Like an unobtrusive desk plant.
If you’re looking for something low-maintenance that’ll always look interesting, buy yourself a succulent, like aloe or cactus. They’re interesting to look at, only need to be watered once a week, and come in enough sizes to fit any desk, even if you’re short on space.
For something that packs a bit more visual punch though, consider a rarer, higher-maintenance plant if you’re up for putting in a few extra minutes of work to care for it every day. Impressive options here are staghorn ferns, orchids, jasmine, snake plants, and bonsai trees. No matter which you go with, everyone that walks by will notice. Plus, any necessary trimming, misting, or pruning gives you a reason to take a quick breather from that project you’ve been working on all morning.
Especially for those working in creative industries, having something inspiring and good-looking in front of you can mean all the difference when you’re trying to innovate. If you don’t already, you should think about outfitting your desk with some new aesthetics.
If you’ve got a wall to yourself, hang up a few colorful prints to give your eyes something distinct from the tonal surroundings to admire now and again. If you share a wall, or don’t have one near your desk at all, you’ve still got options. Small sculptures, printed photos of your favorite artists, musicians, and writers, interesting bookends, photo-heavy magazines, and your favorite vintage collectibles all can find a place on a well-done desk setup. Even if it’s small, that figurine you picked up from your last trip to a museum can be enough to get your mind off your project for a moment and let you return to it with fresh eyes.
Next time you’re putting in extra hours to meet a deadline, you’ll be a more comfortable, awake, and enlivened by your surroundings to keep those gears spinning for as long as they need to. Next stop: promotion.