September 30, 2014

How Your Office Space Defines You and Your Productivity

How does your office space define you and your productivity?

Ask me.

I just remodeled my home office three weeks ago and I feel like a whole new person as well as a much more organized professional.

If you’re lucky enough to have your own office space — whether it’s located at home or not — well, you’re lucky enough! You should take advantage of this opportunity and get the best out of it.

If my effects are in order, so is my brain. I swear by that maxim. I can’t think straight when I have too much stuff lying around. Don’t get me wrong; just because I’m writing about keeping your office space tidy, doesn’t mean that I’m the neatest person around. Actually, I am always saying (to myself and to everyone that happens to see my crazy messes) that my house and my personal spaces represent a “work in progress “.

home office remodel before pic

Here’s the BEFORE pic. Not too bad, but not functional for me.

Little by little, room-by-room, for the last 6 years, I have designed and laid out my ideas in ways that have really worked well for my lifestyle and me.

home office redesign AFTER pic

Here’s the AFTER reveal. Beautiful and completely functional for my needs.

And I always use the same principle…

Minimize to Maximize

When it comes to productivity, I always try to minimize waste and maximize value. This is something that Industrial engineers call ‘lean manufacturing’. Lean what? Did I lose you there? No, it is not a diet… It’s a simple principle, and you probably already put it into practice in many aspects of your daily life.

Look at it this way:

You want to get the most out of the hours you spend in your office.  You want to get things done right once and for all with minimum waste of time, materials, and other things, for that matter.

You want to be productive.  Period.

Whether you manufacture a physical product or not, your work – any work – involves tasks and processes and that is where your office’s design plays its role.

Notice I used the words tasks and processes (fancy!). They’re related, but they aren’t synonyms. A process involves tasks. In other words, if you make sandwiches, the tasks you use to make them represent a process. Spreading the condiments and the like are the tasks within that process.  Making 10 sandwiches means that you’re performing a single process, repeating each task 10 times.

home office redesign storage unit

A new storage unit. Everything in its place.

Get a Handle on Your Daily Work Processes

With that said, grab a piece of paper and write down all the processes involved in your daily work routine, together with its tasks, and ask yourself some questions like these:

  1. Am I doing all the tasks required for my process (or processes) in the correct order?
  2. Do I have all the tools, materials, and equipment I need in order to complete my tasks correctly?
  3. Am I performing other actions that cause me to waste time, material, and – perhaps – even money?
  4. What can I do better in order to minimize that waste?
  5. Are my office layout, furniture and equipment working for me or against me?
  6. How am I managing my time, calendars, and schedule?
  7. Do my gadgets help me achieve my goals faster, or do they slow me down?

Once you answer those questions (and some others that surely will come to mind during the process), you’ll find both the strengths and weaknesses inherent in your office space.

Address the weaknesses and everything else will just start falling into place.

Like putting together the pieces of a big puzzle, it might prove challenging in the beginning, but once you’ve sorted and sifted through the biggest challenges, the rest will be a breeze. Like everything in life, once you start seeing positive results, nothing can stop you!

Soon, you’ll see how that pair of scissors should’ve been in the bottom drawer the whole time, while the white copy paper should’ve been to the right of your desk, right under the printer and not in the filing cabinet in the back left corner. Voila! Productivity increased.

Really, it’s that simple.

And, it makes a lot of a difference in your everyday life too. You’ll look at your schedule and find empty time slots for enjoyment and relaxation, or perhaps to fit in more processes that will enrich your life or put money in your pocket. You’ll take a deep breath and say what I said three weeks ago: I am so glad I did this.

I want to encourage you to tackle that office organization project you’ve been putting off (for too long now) because you didn’t know where to start…

Let this be your starting point.

So go ahead, make that list, answer those questions, and get to work!

I would love to read your comments and suggestions. Have some questions? Have some issues? Are you baffled and don’t know where to start? Been there, done that!

~ And I love a challenge…

About Flavia Andrews

Flavia (a.k.a. Flavs) holds a BS degree in Industrial Engineering, but she’s now studying graphic and web design. Arts and crafts represent her numero uno passion, but she puts her ‘engineer’ touch on all that she does with her motto: measure twice, cut once. Flavs founded and runs an online party décor shop called One Cute Nursery. Check it out because she also shares inspirational thoughts and her great crazy-creative ideas with like thinkers through the One Cute Nursery blog. Or, you can check her awesomeness out on Twitter @onecutenursery

Comments

  1. Hi Flavia and congrats on a very informative post!
    No changes in my work area for the moment.
    I work in the living room. Luckily it’s big enough.
    By the way, I like the way your office looked before but how can you not love white? Like a tabula rasa!
    I went over to see your nursery blog and I LOVE it.
    (I have something I might share with you in the near future…!!!)
    I assume this is your first post so a BIG WELCOME girl!

    • Hi Magda,
      Thanks so much for your lovely feedback! Whenever you’re ready to do some changes in your office space, drop me an email I will gladly help you. Yes, gotta love a white craft room, it’s refreshing and inspiring!
      I am happy to be a part of FWD contributing and sharing ideas. Thanks for the warm and BIG welcome! Best to you!
      Flavia Andrews recently posted..Fall Decoration Ideas – Pinterest SundayMy Profile

  2. I was so afraid to open and read this one. I do love the 7 questions to go through, maybe they will help me with mine. I seem to go through the “stuff” on the table each week and by the week’s end it’s piled up again. I’d love to get a storage unit like the one shown here. They could be the answer to the mess here :)
    Thanks for sharing that Flavia.
    Lisa recently posted..Can Changing Your Website’s Color Make More Sales?My Profile

    • Hi Lisa,
      I know what piled up work is….and I could not take it anymore. It is so easy to get buried in papers within days no matter how hard you try. Quick tip for piled up paper: sort your mail even before hitting the office. I sometimes get it out of the mailbox and they go straight to the recycle bin, they don’t even make it inside the house! The shelving unit is heaven sent! Let me say, its hard work to sort things out, but once that’s done, keep up is a breeze!

      thanks for stopping by!

  3. Flavia, your new office looks like it came straight out of an Ikea catalog, it’s that good! Those tips are really good and something to keep in mind since it’s easy to get distracted by our surroundings when we work from home.

    I especially like tip 7 about gadgets. I just got an iPhone for productivity but it’s almost too easy to get distracted when you have a world of apps at your fingertips.

    • Hi Michael,
      Thanks so much! It wasn’t easy to figure out the layout but I pulled it off after several times sketching and measuring.
      I actually suggested tip/question 7 because that was me 6 months ago. I was lost in apps (mostly searching for the productivity ones) and not getting much done. It may sound cliche, but there’s a time for everything. I push myself to stay on track and do first things first.
      One thing that has helped me a lot is having my dry erase calendar right in front of my eyes. Whenever I see its getting “busy” I literally freak out and start working like a little ant. Erasing tasks from the board is rewarding!
      Thanks for taking the time to read my article!

  4. Thanks for sharing! I like both offices, but I see why the new one can work better for you. Right now my office is really working against me and I avoid working there. I usually take my laptop and work in the living room, just because I don’t feel confortable in the office. Would like to have something looking like your new office :)

    I don’t need that many changes actually. I need a bigger desk, lighter colours, a larger storage space and a better chair. Hope to do the changes soon.
    Veronica Lupascu recently posted..Q/A for translators. Things every translation buyer should know.My Profile

    • Hi Veronica. Thanks for dropping by! Yes, the first office suited me in the past when I only did paperwork and administrative tasks but once I started designing and crafting, I needed not only more physical space but an INSPIRING space. The dark wood wasn’t doing it for me… I can relate when you say you take your laptop and just walk away from the room… I used to do that.
      Renovating my office was a challenge because I needed a “Crafting Room” and just a desk wouldn’t work. If you only need a desk where to rest your laptop and a storage unit, your options are unlimited. Feel free to email me and ask me for some tips on layout and furniture.
      Take care!

  5. What a great article! Your new office rocks!
    How’s the light reflecting from the window on your screen? Does it bother you?
    Cristian recently posted..The freelancer’s ultimate officeMy Profile

  6. Hi Cristian! Thanks!
    No it doesn’t . The office faces west so the strong sunlight comes in around 4:00 pm. I have vertical blinds and whenever it gets too bright I close them in an angle where there’s still light coming in but facing towards the opposite wall. I am not too fond of those blinds but they do their job! :)
    Thanks for dropping by !

  7. Wow, the new office looks fantastic! Congratulations. I bet if I could turn my cramped up home office into something similar, I’d *want* to get up and get to work. :-)
    Stef Gonzaga recently posted..The Symptoms of WritingMy Profile

    • Hi Stef,
      Thanks! I love my office, it’s been 7 months since the remodel and I am still in awe with it. And yes, I love to wake up and go to work, 20 feet from my bedroom! It’s hard to keep it neat, especially when I am processing 4 orders at a time {and chasing a toddler down the hallway} but it is still the best home office I could’ve ever asked for!
      I ‘upgraded’ my bins and added some labels to them so my helper can find items easily… I knew the content of all of them by heart but now it looks even neater!
      thanks for stopping by!
      Flavia Andrews recently posted..Ninja Party Decorations – New Designs on PPPMy Profile

  8. You have completely transformed your office space. It is cluttered free, neat and looks so professional. I need to jot down those questions (cited-above) in my freelancing notebook. Really crucial to productivity.

    Moving from Industrial Engineering to graphics and web designing? Wow! I love those who discover their calling and then chase it : ) All the best to you. I’ll be following your decor blog because that’s what I love doing.
    Uzma | Embracing Sustainability recently posted..5 All-Natural Beauty Essentials Your Skin WantsMy Profile

    • Hi Uzma,

      YES! And believe it or not, I also wanted to be a Chemical Engineer…You can’t compare this office to a chemistry lab… I always loved science but never lost interest for arts and crafts…

      Designing parties is a great way to combine my love for art and graphics, research, decorations and blogging. I love to tweak my blog every now and then by playing with the html code…I know more today than I did 3 years ago… To think that I failed ‘ computer programming’ back in 1999.

      This is definitely my calling and I am glad I have put aside a lot of the ‘raised eyebrows’ from people that think that I should be sitting in an corporate office making someone else’s dream come true…

      Thanks for stopping by! ;)
      Flavia Andrews recently posted..Giveaway: Win a Posh Party Decorations Package!My Profile

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