TIPS FOR PRODUCTIVITY & A CALM, INSPIRING SPACE TO WORK

Welcome to my home office.

Since moving into our new home I was for a long time without a designated workspace, which meant that most days I ended up at the kitchen table. But ever since I got this little desk set-up I have been feeling so much more motivated and happy.

I think it is very important to create a space you enjoy and feel inspired in. For me, a calm and neat area – like the one I have created for myself – helps me to be productive. Think about what makes you creative, whether that is a white minimal space like mine or adding more colours… It is your choice and should reflect your style and personality! It is however proven that the most calming colours are usually blue shades, something to think about if you do want to add more colour to your own space. For me, white and clean was the best choice, and with the addition of natural wood from the chair, storage, a green plant and a few decorative pieces it has become a comfortable and well-organised home office.

Here are a few productivity and organising tips to help you create a calm and inspiring space to work:

Choose the right desk.

There are plenty of great options for desks out there, but if you want to go down the Scandinavian minimal route I highly recommend the String work desk. It is a versatile and flexible designed system which is easy to adapt to your own needs and space, cupboards and additional shelves can be added later or moved around as you please. Mine is the classic desk set-up with three shelves in addition to the main worktop, the structure is light weight yet stable. It has a simple and minimal look which makes it blend in with the surroundings, something very important since my home office is in our living room.

^ As you can see in the image above, I kept one of the shelves underneath the work surface which helps me to keep organised because I can place items there when I don’t need them. They are then out of sight and my workspace is tidy.

Tidy desk, tidy mind.

Keep your desk organised and clutter-free, because if your desk is tidy it is much easier to stay focused and get stuff done. My rule is to try to not overload my desk with things, but instead, keep the essentials and store away the things I do not use on a daily basis. I have purchased a few white plastic storage boxes and folders to keep organised, this is especially important to me because when the space around me is messy – so is my mind.

^ I use three ceramic cups for storing pens and other small items I need in.

Plan your work-load and day.

Another important point is to have a good planner, one that fits your need and have enough space to write on depending on your work-load. I was kindly gifted this beautiful planner from Home & Fleur and it has everything I need in it to stay on top of my work. If you are a list-maker like me, I’m sure you will like it too as it has plenty of space to list what you need to do every day and little tick-boxes to cross off once you are done. Who doesn’t love the satisfactory feeling of ticking off something on your to-do list right?

And talking about lists, it is so important to keep these feasible and not too long. I know from experience that having a never-ending to-do list will not help you feel productive and instead just stress you more. So my tip is to keep your list short and sweet, think about the most important and urgent task and instead plan your week out according to that. Another great advice is to start with the things you are less excited about because once you are done with these tasks the rest will be like a walk in the park.

^ The planner started in August 2019 with a minimal design, weekly inspirational quotes and cute stickers included inside.

Put your phone away – no distractions.

Having your smartphone nearby can easily make you spend way too much time scrolling, so if I need to focus I put my phone in a different room to not get distracted. However, if you do need to have your phone on your desk make sure you turn off notifications and only pick it up when it is needed. I know how difficult this is and how easy it is to fall down the rabbit hole of just having to check one more thing or open one more social media app… Try to be strict with yourself and instead use your lunch break for checking these things, or set aside 5 minutes to check your phone when you finish a task.

In regards to distractions, I also think turning off your email alerts can be beneficial. Instead of reading every email that hits your inbox, try turning off your notifications and instead, checking it at intervals. Constant notifications on the phone or email alerts popping up on your computer can break your focus.

Practice the 5-minute rule: if it is something that you can do quickly then DO IT now!

I love this rule because it is so easy. If there is something you know will only take 5 minutes to do, then instead of sitting there thinking about it, simply get it done. The quicker you do it, the more time you free up to do other things and less time you spend thinking about doing it. Win – win. If you do not do it there and then, it might be in the back of your mind and make you feel stressed and overwhelmed. This is a rule I use in life in general, not just at work, and it helps me to eliminate unnecessary stress which can easily build up by numerous of small tasks that you feel you will never get to the end of.

Surround yourself with items that spark joy and creativity.

To feel calm and focused we can not have too many distractions pulling our attention away from work, so be selective when it comes to decor. Whether that is a pretty vase, a photo frame with a lovely memory inside, little fun decor items that put a smile on your face (my little wooden monkey hanging on the side of my desk sure does this) or inspiring books and magazines you can browse when needed, we all need things around us to keep the creative juices flowing. So keep a clear desk but make sure you personalise it with a few selective items you love.

Add some greenery.

Plants are great for creating a calm environment, and it has been proven that adding greenery to office spaces help reduce stress and improve air quality. Make sure these are easy to care for plants such as cactuses, or succulents.

Listen to calming music or embrace silence.

Music is scientifically proven to stimulate the brain and improve performance, and for me listening to relaxing music is a great way to add a calm atmosphere in my home office. I do however also appreciate silence when needed, and in that case, a pair of good quality noise-cancelling headphones are great to keep near.

Remember to take breaks.

This is something I strongly believe in, and I am lucky to have a dog who helps to remind me that I need to go outside and get fresh air regularly throughout my workday. I know that not everyone has a dog to walk, but even if you don’t I think a walk and fresh air is key to a successful work day. If you can not get outside or do not have time for a long break, a 5-minute coffee or tea break can be all you need.

Items seen in my home office space:

*I was gifted the planner from Home & Fleur, but all the thoughts and opinions are my own.

// Photo credit: Ingrid Opstad

Ingrid Opstad

That Scandinavian feeling is a blog by Ingrid Opstad, a Norwegian journalist living in Italy. Ingrid wants her blog to represent the feeling of coziness and calm with a Nordic simplistic, minimalistic style. The blog is intended to share her knowledge and love for Scandinavia; touching upon everything from interiors, design, lifestyle, travel to hygge. A place where you can get inspired to find that Scandinavian feeling yourself, no matter where in the world you are.

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