If your job entails going in to an office (and if you’re reading this site, there’s a pretty good chance that it does), you’ll know that a few personal items in your immediate workspace can make you feel a lot more comfortable.
But as individual offices have given way to cubicles and, more recently, open-plan “collaborative” workspaces achieving that personal touch has become increasingly difficult.
Still, even though you may not have walls to plaster with family photos or enough room for that standing lamp you just love, you can still add a few well-thought-out personal touches to your desk.
Here are a few that can help make work a much more pleasant experience.
Get a plant
Put humans near trees and something amazing starts to happen. Sick people get better faster, people with cardiac and respiratory ailments live longer and, most importantly for the average office worker, anxious people get calmer.
There are other benefits too. Plants in an office can help keep the air clean, improve productivity and inspire creativity, among other things.
Now you’re obviously not going to be able to cultivate a forest on your desk, but most desks have room for at least one small plant. Just make sure you get something hardy that can survive indoors.
There are few things more depressing than coming back from a long weekend only to discover that your treasured desk plant now looks like a post-apocalyptic film prop.
Have some of your Instagram snaps printed out
If you’re active on Instagram, the photos you post on the platform probably bring you a fair amount of joy. So why leave them on the internet?
From there, you can stick them in individualised frames, tac them around your monitor, or – if you work against a wall – get creative with some string and a few miniature clothes pegs.
Fight back against distraction
Nothing’s quite as good at making you feel like your workspace isn’t your own as people constantly coming into it and distracting you from the task at hand.
Fortunately, there are ways of making sure that people know you don’t want to be bothered because you’re busy with something.
While there are any number of low-tech solutions for this, there are some pretty awesome gadgets out there too.
Take the Kuando busy light for instance. Designed to be stuck somewhere visible, it could mean the end of having to storm off in a huff to find somewhere quiet to work. If you’re open to people coming up to talk to you, it shines green. But if you really need to get something done with zero disturbances, simply set your Skype to ‘busy’ and it’ll shine bright red. As in: come near me at your peril.
Bring in reminders of the things you love doing
At Engage Me, we firmly believe that work is something that should be a meaningful part of your life, rather than something you do just to live. If you’re going to live that philosophy, it’s well worth bringing small reminders of the other parts of your life into the office.
Whether it’s a Doctor Who plush toy, or a medal from your latest race, these small, otherwise insignificant objects, can provide some seriously important perspective when things get tough at work. As much as your job might mean to you, it does not define you, and these personal objects can act as reminders that you’re a multi-faceted being.
Bring in your own stationery
If you like a certain type of post-it note, or quirky paperclip that the office doesn’t stock, go out and buy some. The same goes for pens, notebooks, and even desk organisers.
Don’t worry what anyone else might think. If these things make you happier, they’ll make you a better and more productive worker.
And who knows, you might just inspire a few of your colleagues to follow suit and the whole office could end up happier.
Mark your territory
While there’s no need to build DIY partitions between you and your colleagues, clearly marking out the borders of your workspace can make it feel a lot more personalised.
Generally, you should avoid anything that a colleague would have to crane over to talk to you (there’s not much you can do if you sit opposite someone and your monitors block out your view of each other). Something like this table-top bookcase is probably along the lines of what you’re looking for.