As a small business owner and entrepreneur who juggles family life with a couple of young kids, time is always an issue.
Last weekend I decided to rearrange my home office. I moved around the furniture, changed the lighting, and de-cluttered my desk. In fact, I have removed the top half of my desk. My cookie-cutter big department store desk had an upper attachment for extra shelving and storage. It was a large two piece unit that I rarely used due to it’s design, and by removing the top half I found I reached a minimalist level by creating more desk space.
This may sound like nothing at first, but by removing clutter, re-organizing my office, and improving the lighting, my mind seemed more clear. I got more natural light in the room from better positioning of my desk by a window, and the results have had a major impact on my overall attitude about projects and reduced the stress level of my weekly workload.
The changes have really given me a boost in motivation, and I feel more positive.
It may sound like I spent a lot of time working on this, but really I invested an hour and a half into cleaning and moving stuff around.
I’m not going to preach that I’m a new person, or say I recommend reading a ZEN book or anything, but I wanted to pass along a few helpful tips to anyone feeling stressed or uninspired. I also found some useful items that I picked up (or was already using) that helped create this minimalist home office vibe that I highly recommend.
Your Mind Can’t Function at Optimal Levels in a Cluttered Mess
“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” —Albert Einstein.
Yeah ok, fair enough. Both Albert Einstein and writer Roald Dahl famously worked at very messy desks, and it never seemed to do them any harm, but for me it’s a real distraction.
When I’m working I want my thoughts uninterrupted by distraction, I want to be able to focus.
Researchers at the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute published the results of a study they conducted in an issue of The Journal of Neuroscience that relates directly to uncluttered and organized living. From their report “Interactions of Top-Down and Bottom-Up Mechanisms in Human Visual Cortex”:
Multiple stimuli present in the visual field at the same time compete for neural representation by mutually suppressing their evoked activity throughout visual cortex, providing a neural correlate for the limited processing capacity of the visual system.
As Erin Doland writes in an article for Unclutterer.com: The clutter competes for your attention in the same way a toddler might stand next to you annoyingly repeating, “candy, candy, candy, candy, I want candy, candy, candy, candy, candy, candy, candy, candy, candy, candy …” Even though you might be able to focus a little, you’re still aware that a screaming toddler is also vying for your attention. The annoyance also wears down your mental resources and you’re more likely to become frustrated.
Ultimate Quick Fix:
- Remove Clutter – Anything you don’t need in your office should go. If you’re lacking storage space and have no choice, at least make sure the clutter isn’t in plain sight of your desk. Position things out of your way to create a minimalist desk.
- Improve Lighting – Avoid bright ugly lighting, and also dark rooms that’ll strain your eyes.
- Improve Your Posture – Good posture is an easy and very important way to maintain a healthy mind and body. When you practice correct posture, your body is in alignment with itself.
5 Minimalist Home Office Suggestions
The following are a few recommended items for anyone looking for office supplies, furniture, or lighting improvements to help create a minimalist home office. The changes could help increase productivity and improve creative thinking.
#1 Minimalist Office Lighting
Nobody likes fluorescent light.
In my opinion, the number one way to improve productivity, stay alert, and not have your eyes feel strained in a home office is to have a desk lamp that provides strong high quality light, creating a warm environment. Many of today’s best office lamps have LED lighting, which at first, I didn’t think would be that big of deal…but I was blown away by the comparison.
There are many options to choose from when picking out a quality office desk lamp, yet finding one that offers features such as a built in USB outlet, or is small and compact and will take up little desk space, should be target goals when looking.
I personally love the idea of being able to plug my iPhone into the light without having to worry about dangling cables from the wall, or from back behind my computer. Although, while the style or look may draw you in, remember it’s the quality of light the lamp produces in the room that you’re after.
Most people are too busy to go and pick out a light so they just grab one on Amazon, which is exactly what I did after visiting a client who had an LED office lamp with a built in USB. My phone was running out of juice, and when I asked if I could charge it while looking around the office, he stopped me and casually pointed to his lamp. I thought that was pretty cool and a smart option to have for guests like myself.
Helpful Tip: Pick up many different types of light bulbs, all with different wattages, to allow you to adjust the brightness or darkness of your office. Don’t blame the light on the poor quality lightbulb you grabbed for 99 cents.Click Here to check out some Minimalist Office Lighting options at Amazon or Click here to see the exact lamp I ended up getting.
I’m all about Amazon, as they have an endless supply of discounted lamps that you can get within a few days of ordering. Also, I would recommend if you do want to buy a desk lamp with the add on feature of a USB output, make sure you check for the maximum light bulb wattage. Some may only allow for a 60watt light bulb, which works for 90% of all offices, but if you need extra lighting don’t overdo it by adding extra wattage with a stronger light bulb. Instead get a standup lamp to add to the room. The goal should be to create mood lighting, not dark sleepy lighting, but rather bright and soft lighting that doesn’t strain your eyes.
#2 Minimalist Office Desk
As I discussed earlier, my home office desk had a top section with extra space for storage (a lot like the before picture). Yet truthfully, all this top add on feature did was collect dust. The extra storage was great, but I didn’t need it. So rather than looking out a window or at a nicely painted wall with some artwork, I stared at dusty notes and books from other projects and tasks. Some may argue that looking out a window is just as much of a distraction, but for me my view is of my front lawn, and the street on which I live (home office), so I don’t get too distracted.
I was only using maybe 50% of the desk’s storage, but the way the top piece sat on the desk it ate up 25% of the desk top. I removed it and got something more like the “After” image. For those looking for a Minimalist Office Desk, you can pick up this exact same one from the picture at Amazon for cheap with free shipping.
#3 Minimalist Office Chair
Amia Chair by Steelcase
It may sound funny, but there is such a thing as a minimalist office chair. The concept is that you get rid of the obnoxious throne that’s practically a lazyboy recliner, and focus on better lumbar support.
For many people who work in an office setting, sitting in an office chair without adequate back support can create a great deal of stress on the lower back. If you’re not comfortable, you can’t focus on your work, and if you’re too comfortable, you become lazy and tired. I currently have a standard leather office chair, but am looking to upgrade to something like the Steelcase Leap Fabric Chair in the coming year. It’s not flashy, but the reviews are excellent. It may seem like a lot of money, but if you spend hours a day sitting in a chair, why not invest in something that won’t hurt your back, and will keep you comfortable and focused.
#4 Stylish Bookshelves
I spent a lot of time trying to find art or paintings to hang on the walls in my minimalist home office. I also had a huge ugly bookshelf that I got rid of throughout the cleaning process. When my wife suggested merging the two ideas I was ecstatic.
Using your stuff as a clever way of creating interesting things to hang on the wall while freeing up space is an awesome way to kill two birds with one stone. Again, as time is always a problem, I avoided a trip to IKEA and just found two small hanging storage shelves at Amazon.
#5 Coffee Warmer
This coffee warmer looks like it doesn’t belong on the list, but I got one of these as a gift and I love it. It seems so silly, but this beverage warmer keeps you from getting out of your seat. If you’re a blogger or writer or you just have a bad habit of needing too many little breaks, this simple item should save you at least an hour a day.
What is it? Exactly what you would guess. A beverage warmer, that keeps your favorite hot beverages at the perfect temperature until you’ve finished them.