Six Things To Make Your Office Productive and Inspiring

With the holiday season approaching, you might be making your own wish list or planning your gift shopping for a favorite web worker. Perhaps you just want to make your office or cubicle as comfortable and productive as possible. Here are six ideas to get you started.

A kitchen timer. Invaluable for focusing yourself when you have an important deadline and can’t seem to stop procrastinating. Set a timer for 10 or 15 minutes (or even five if you must) and tell yourself you can take a break when time’s up. Merlin Mann of 43 Folders calls this a dash. Williams-Sonoma’s Triple Kitchen Timer might be overkill. How about Target’s chicken timer or the Tape Timer from Chiasso?

fountain penA pen you adore. I like the Bic Atlantis and the Papermate Comfortmate Grip, medium point blue, retractable. My mom the attorney likes to use a bold purple ballpoint (the Papermate Flexgrip Ultra) to swish out items on her printed to do list. She switched when she could no longer find the Parker Big Red, the pen that carried her successfully through the bar exam. Whatever pen you use, make sure it’s one that makes you happy. Even if you lead most of your life on the computer, there will surely be times you’ll need to use pen and paper. Why not make it enjoyable?

Your favorite drink. Coke, water, coffee… a triple half-caf chai tea latte made with organic soy milk… whatever greases those neurons and gets them producing. Here’s a hint from someone who learned the hard way: think about using a travel mug for whatever drink you choose in case you knock it over. Laptops don’t like to have liquid poured all over them.

A distraction from the Web. All work and no play makes Jill a dull girl, and it makes her wrists and back hurt besides. For mental and physical wellbeing, you might want to use your time off from work–the ten or fifteen minutes between dashes–on something totally removed from the Web cloud. You might try a calligraphy daily calendar, a book of Sudoku puzzles, or learning to paint, depending on your temperament.

Pink Lily by Cheryl TohA thing of beauty. In addition to work and play, you need time to dream. Give yourself something to initiate it. You might be inspired by an orchid, a piece of abstract art, or a desktop Zen garden.

Encaustic diptych titled “Pink Lily” by Cheryl Toh.

A reminder of what you love most. The most common item to find in someone’s cubicle at work is a photo of friends or family, for good reason. But you don’t have to put them in a regular old frame. You can make a mousepad with your dogs, a Warhol-esque poster with your kids, or a mug with your partner. If you’ve money to spare and prefer a high-tech display for your photos, how about a digital photo frame?

For even more ideas about outfitting your office, check out the great discussion on generating effective workflow.

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