Workable Workspace




How do you like my work space? Pretty nice, don’t you think? Clear desk top, awesome computer, I’d have added in the view of the Red River I have, but it’s snowing right now (April 5 and it’s snowing) and I can’t bear to look at it at the moment. The snow is also the reason I don’t have my standing desk set up. It’s a lovely little Oristand portable number that I put on the desk in front of the window and put my laptop on to write as well.

My office space didn’t always look this nice. This is a very new deal for me. For the longest time, I had a computer that didn’t work particularly well because it was so old. My desk was covered in papers, and I didn’t have that nice little side table/desk. It took me a good solid weekend with very little sleep, to get my office cleaned up, to get all the stacks of paper off the floor and into boxes for shredding and recycling. I can now walk in here without having to step over stuff all the time.

I didn’t have to clean up the space. I could have very easily kept my office as the “space where stuff goes to die”, the one room where everything goes to be “out of the way”. It wasn’t like I needed the space for writing. I have a gorgeous MacBook Air that does pretty much everything I can do with my iMac, and it is portable. I was quite comfortable sitting on my couch and writing. To help my ergonomics I bought a little desk and the Oristand Standing Desk and had those in my living room, and I was perfectly content. Perfectly content to sit there with my laptop open, or manuscript on my lap and pen in hand, and watch television all night and all weekend.

I had bought my Condo for two reasons: the walk-in closet in the master bedroom (really, any closet would have been a step up from what I’d had the previous few years), and the river view. It was time I made use of the river view and at the same time, improve my writing time.

See, I’ve always thought I could write and edit while watching TV. Maybe it wasn’t as fast as otherwise, but there was nothing wrong with it. But after some experimenting, I realized just how bad it was. I had to do something about it.

I made my workspace workable. I cleaned it up. I got a new computer. I moved my standing desk setup into my office.

I love it back here now. I’m surrounded by books (the wall behind me is all bookshelves), I have reminders of why I write on the wall above my computer, and it is really, really comfortable.

What makes a workspace workable, besides having it tidy? And what kind of difference can it make?

  1. Have it set up so that it is ergonomically comfortable. I’ve had carpal tunnel syndrome. Had to have the surgery. it is not fun. Trust me. Writing with pain in your wrists, in your shoulders, in your back, is not worth it. Have your monitor set at the right height. Get an ergonomic keyboard if you want one. I’m using a Microsoft Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 5000. I also use it with my laptop when I use my standing desk. Get a comfortable and adjustable office chair. Sitting on the couch or the Lay-z-boy might be more comfortable in the short term, but if you plan to spend a lot of time writing, make your desk ergonomic. You don’t have to go all-out. Some simple adjustments that I mentioned in this point will make a huge difference. It’s a whole lot easier to sit at the computer and write when you don’t have physical pain or are dreading the strain that will come after an hour.
  2. Having a clear desk top eliminates distractions. Period. I don’t care how tidy you are in the rest of your house or your office. Clear off your writing desk as much as possible. Writers have a tendency to procrastinate at the best of times. Email, Facebook, twitter, and surfing the web are more than enough distractions. Clutter around you will also make you feel crowded. it intrudes on your mental space and will make you feel like you can’t write in that space.
  3. Having dedicated writing space also eliminates distractions. If you have a door you can close, do it if you you need to. Get away from the television and the noisy neighbours. I do still need some kind of noise, music is perfect for me. I have it on in the background, it provides enough ambient noise to keep me from going crazy and yet it doesn’t distract me. i don’t have to pay attention to it. I don’t have to listen closely.
  4. Put up inspiration and motivation around you. I have my university degrees and my certificate from Odyssey Writing Workshop on the wall above my computer. I have my writing books to one side, and most of my books on the shelves behind me. I need more bookshelves. I am surrounded with reminders of why I’m back here writing, all that I’ve worked for and what I continue to work towards. And when the snow stops, I’ll have the river to look at because I love water, it relaxes me and allows my creativity to flow.

Make your workspace someplace you want to spend time. When you’re int there, use it only for writing. It will soon become habit that when you are in that space, you write. You won’t be as distracted and your productivity will increase.

What changes do you need to make to your workspace? What positive outcomes do you expect to occur once you make those changes?

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