I have very big news!
I’m about to move into a new apartment and for the first time in my life, I’m going to have a dedicated space for an office within my home which as a remote worker is very exciting! This move is a big step for me and as I prepare for the change I’ve been doing a lot of research on how to make sure my space will perfectly suit all my needs and help keep my productivity and happiness levels up while also not breaking the bank.
I’m equal parts excited and nervous about my new space - typically I go to co-working spaces or coffee shops to work. In the past when I have decided to work from home I have never been as productive. I’m determined to develop healthy habits and a strong work-from-home routine as soon as I move in. For the sake of preparation, I’ve been doing a lot of self-reflection to try and figure out the best ways to curate a space that will fit all my needs and help me be as productive and creative as possible. I’ve really gotten into saving home office inspo posts on Instagram and watching endless amounts of youtube videos about designing and executing the perfect home offices … the only thing is that it can be very costly to have that “dream” set up.
I decided to dedicate this week’s blog post to share all of my ideas on creating my dream office while staying on budget- and who knows, maybe once I move in I’ll update you with my thrifty execution of this plan (is that something that would interest you? Plz let me know in the comments!).
Comfort + Ergonomics.
It’s important for me to make sure I create a home office for myself that is comfortable and works for my body and habits instead of forcing myself to adapt to my environment. As I prepare to create a personalized workspace it’s important that I can identify exactly what my bad habits and pain points are so I can do myself the favor of investing in furniture that will help me keep those things under control- it’s a fun and mildly concerning exercise, try it for yourself!
Due to my inability to sit still all day long, my first order of business is to invest in a sit/stand desk. I’ve never used one for an extended period of time but earlier this year I worked at a co-working space in Europe that had them available and I loved it.
My job requires me to do a lot of creative work but also a lot of administrative tasks as well as take several calls a week. My thinking is that I could stand while answering emails and creating spreadsheets and speaking with my teammates and then take a seat when I’m writing and doing graphic design/visual work. Sometimes I can find it to be a struggle to bounce back and forth from my creative work to my admin work and I think this might be a great way to do that. Standing while doing the more mundane tasks will be a good way to energize the way I approach the work and sitting to write and create will allow me to hunker down and do some deep thinking. What do you think? Will it work?! Have you ever done this yourself?
My dream sit-stand desk is the Ergonofis desk- it’s the Cadillac of sit/stand desks. They will run you back about $1000 (though they do have monthly payment plans available) and if you can swing it, I would totally go for it. They adjust automatically and are programmable to your ideal heights making it easy to go from sitting to standing height, they are made from beautiful solid wood and are Canadian made (like me, your favorite ergonomic blog writer!)
Ergonofis Shift Desk- $800 USD
My pockets aren’t that deep right now, especially since this is a bit of a home office trial run. Until I’ve fully committed to the lifestyle and have a bit more cash to spend, I’ll probably be sticking the manual IKEA option for an easy breezy $279. It’ll give me the freedom to be able to choose whether or not I sit or stand while I work, but it’s just not quite as sleek and fancy. You have to manually crank the desk to get it to rise and lower but it still gives you the freedom to do so!
IKEA SKARSTA Desk, $279
Now- to the most important part of any office. The chair! Even if you do choose to stand most of the time, it’s important to pick a chair that will help continue all that work you’ve put into your posture when you do decide to sit.
I’m already dreaming about having an Austin chair in my home office. Of course, I have a totally biased opinion but I really do love using a kneeling chair. If you’re like me and on a tight budget any of the Sleekform chairs are great options. A lot of ergonomic chairs can be very pricey and one of our main goals in creating the company as a direct-to-consumer brand was because we wanted to make ergonomic furniture accessible to the everyday person. Depending on what style you’re looking for our chairs vary in price from $99-$140- compared to other ergonomic chairs on the market that tend to vary from $400-$2500, that’s a very good deal!
Sleekform Austin Chair (version black), $140
Using a rocking/ balancing kneeling chair like the Austin will help to keep up the energy I’ll have while standing up and while also helping to combat my squirminess as well as prevent me from curving my spine into that dreaded, slumpy C-shape.
I work exclusively from a MacBook so I’ll also be using a laptop stand, wireless keyword, and trackpad to keep my posture game on point. I mentioned these products in the blog last week- I’m a fan of the roost laptop stand and the Apple wireless keyboard and trackpad for compatibility’s sake. When it comes to the tech I use, I often go for the higher end products and omit my thriftiness for the sake of getting long-lasting products with good warranties.
Roost Laptop Stand ($75) Apple Wireless Keyboard ($149) + Apple Wireless Trackpad ($149)
One thing I like to do while I work is something I call “productivity sprints” which is where I turn off all my notifications (emails, texts, phone calls, and slack- ALL OF IT) and I set a timer for 90 minutes and work non-stop in those 90 minutes. This manner of working helps me focus and get a lot done quickly- if find it especially helpful when I’m writing and I need to be able to work through a complete thought. Distraction is the number one idea killer. After I finish a “sprint” I’ll break for 20 minutes or so.
Rest and time away from your work can be just as valuable as time spent working. It will be important for me to have a comfortable, cozy chair in my workspace where I can sit and sip coffee and decompress all while staying in a working state of mind. I can’t even count how many dream cozy chairs I have on my vision board from West Elm, Article, Rove Concepts, etc. One of my favourite things to look at online is furniture and chairs- a behaviour I can’t really explain. I tend to lean towards a more mid-century modern vibe with all the chairs I add to my shopping cart and never buy, so I’m hoping to be able to find something awesome at a vintage or thrift store and do a bit of DIY repurposing.
Do you do any furniture thrifting? Where do you go to hunt for hidden gems?!
West Elm Book Nook Arm Chair ($628)
Clutter + Organization.
I count myself lucky that 99.9999% of my work is done online and very rarely requires paper. That immediately removes any sort of paper clutter (although don’t get me started on the organization of my MacBook’s desktop, whatta disaster!) If you work with a lot of paper it’s so important to not let it overtake your workspace and implement some sort of filing system (I realize you could say the same to me about my computer's desktop, but whatEVER, we’ll save that for another blog post).
Last year I sold everything I owned and became a Nomad, hopping around from place to place while working. The best part about this type of lifestyle is the freedom you discover by not having “stuff”. Once you stop having stuff, you really realize how much your material things can be weighing you down mentally. My hope for my new apartment is to try and maintain this minimalist lifestyle and to keep the “stuff” I acquire to a bare minimum.
Luckily, my work set-up is very minimum. One computer, one phone, no extra monitor, very few reference books. I know a lot of you require way more stuff- iPads, a second monitor, books, and notebooks and handfuls of iPhones and Blackberry’s for every occasion etc, etc. Even though I don’t have too many devices, it will be important for me to keep all the power cords organized and out of sight as much as possible. I’ll definitely be using cable ties and adhesive hooks to keep them in control under the desk- I find cords can make a space seem messy even when it’s not. Amazon has about one million options for cable management for every different need and set up and it’s super inexpensive. I’m also going to make a real effort to keep all of my drawers organized because those can get out of hand quickly. Ikea is the mecca for drawer organizers to help you keep your life in order. Let’s SPARK JOY in our drawers!
I’m not sure if this is as much of an issue for most people as it is for me, but the atmosphere of a room plays a massive role in how I feel when I’m in it. By “atmosphere” I mean everything from the lighting, to the placement of the furniture in the space, the color of the walls, the artwork on the walls (and not just what the artwork is but how and where it’s hung is also huge). I am not the kind of person who can be willy nilly about the layout of a room- I find it distracting when I don’t think it’s set up properly. There’s nothing I love more than re-arranging furniture to try and find the perfect layout.
My biggest, irrational pet peeve of them all is the use of overhead lighting. There is nothing I hate more in a room than the use of terrible overhead lighting. I can’t explain what happens to me but if I someone turns on the godawful overhead light when there are lamps accessible I feel a twinge of rage. The only time I’ll allow it is while I’m cleaning and need to make sure I got all the dust bunnies.
That being said, the use of lamps is going to be key. I love a bright but warm light. My dream is to one day invest in the Phillips Hue lights so I can customize the lighting to my heart's content. The dream is to have a specific look for daytime work and then to be able to transition the light to become warmer as the day goes on. Until I’m ready to invest in the fancy Hue bulbs, I’m going to have to strategically choose what the watt and light tone the bulbs I buy from the supermarket have.
Are you as sensitive to the lighting in a room as I am, or does the cheese stand alone on this one? Let me know in the comments.
Philips Hue single bulb: $46 USD
I can’t wait to curate an organized, ergonomic room that I can put my own personalized stamp on. The goal is to find a happy balance between minimalism and character- to create a space that is comfortable and conducive to working and inspiring!
Do you have a home office or a space you love to work in? What makes it work for you? What is it missing? Let me know! I’d love to hear your ideas and tips- also where do you shop for deals?!
Before I sign off here’s a quick list of all the products (both dream and budget) I mentioned above! Make sure to let me know if there are any other brands or products I should be on the hunt for as I start my home office journey!
- Ergonofis Sit/Stand Desk
- IKEA Skartsa Sit/Stand Desk
- Sleekform Kneeling Chairs
- Roost Laptop Stand
- Apple Wireless Keyboard
- Apple Wireless Trackpad
- Amazon cord management
- IKEA drawer organization
- Philips Hue bulbs