Man being productive using standing desk setup

For many of us, the switch to working from home has been a blessing and challenge rolled up in one. While we love the flexibility (hello, PJs as professional attire), we can't deny there are a lot more struggles than we usually encounter while in the office. From kids to pets to social media notifications, there are a lot of distractions vying for our attention at all times. If there are remote work challenges like poor communication or mismanagement, attention can wane even faster. You may find yourself watching the clock creep toward noon and realize you haven't accomplished a thing.

Productivity is an ongoing process. It's all about finding your flow and being "in the zone." People tend to measure productivity in terms of output, but it is so much more than that. Productivity is fluid, and it can be improved anytime by making some changes to your environment. You may be amazed to notice the impact that having a proper work environment has on your ability to stay on task.

In this guide, we'll cover everything you need to create the best desk setup for productivity. We'll start with the basic elements every home office should have; then, we'll dive into the details of desk organisation so you can build the perfect standing desk setup with ergonomic chair for your home.

1. Improve Your Lighting

When you're choosing a spot for your desk setup, aim to be as close to a window as possible. We may spend most of our days in front of a computer, but the human mind and body were built to respond to natural light. Natural light exposure is important for maintaining energy throughout the day, staying motivated and combating depression. Even if you prefer to work after normal business hours, the right lighting plays a huge role in your productivity and reduce eye strain. If you can work by multiple windows, that's even better.

standing desk setup with natural lighting

Because you only have a set amount of daylight to work with, you should choose your peak work hours wisely. Even if you are able to break up your schedule, opt to do your most essential tasks when there is ample natural light.

Artificial lighting is equally important. When you're setting up your home office and standing desk, choose the right desk lamp and accent lighting for your line of work. For example, if you make or edit videos or photos, then you'll want a softer light than someone who is analyzing data all day. You may even want to go with an LED desk lamp that has multiple intensity and color temperature settings. This will allow you to adjust your lighting to suit your task and mood.

2. Add Greenery

You might not think plants are key players in productive desk setup, but they actually have a major benefit. Keeping some plant life around the house boosts your mood, which directly impacts your productivity. Green plants are also natural air purifiers. If you sit inside most days, your home is prone to gathering more dust, dander and dirt than it would if you were out of the house.

In addition to naturally improving your indoor air quality, plants can lower stress, increase energy and leave you feeling more positive overall. You don't have to be a green thumb to keep them healthy, either. There are plenty of low-maintenance plants that have a big impact. Check out aloe vera, spider plant, snake plant and, of course, the world's favorite desk plant, succulents. All they need is plenty of natural light and the occasional watering.

standing desk setup with indoor plants

3. Take Breaks

Blood circulation is a critical component of well being, but many of us spend hours at a time hunched in front of a computer with little to no movement. Make sure that you schedule frequent breaks to move your body. You should also incorporate some desk exercises that you can do from your chair or perform at a standing desk. An exercise ball can help you stay active for short periods while working at your desk.

Speaking of standing desks, you should look for one with an adjustable height. While a stand up desk does promote good posture and greater energy, you likely won't want to be at one for six to 10 hours a day. When you're ready to relax a bit, you can lower the height while keeping your standing desk setup in place.

Routine breaks should be all about movement, so avoid just picking up your phone and scrolling through social media. In fact, the best thing to do is step away from screens entirely. Refresh your eyes, drink some water and, when you can, step outside for a few minutes of fresh air and sunshine.

4. Keep Your Workspace Clean

Have you ever found yourself dreading going to work because your desk is a mess? For maximum productivity, prioritise organization. It doesn't matter if you have an entire room for your home office or only a desk in the corner of your living room; you can take advantage of as much space as you have. Start with the essentials. Look into a monitor riser to clear some room on your messy desk. This instantly frees up the surface while simultaneously encouraging proper posture while typing.

Keep office supplies in baskets, drawer units and any other organisation tools you can find. Research suggests that a messy desk negatively impacts work performance and increases stress. On the other hand, an organised desk brings a greater sense of control. Through personalisation, you can create a space that you take pride in and naturally feel more inspired to work in.

A clean surface is the most productive desk setup regardless of your personal tastes. You can instantly boost job satisfaction by creating an area that's pleasurable to work in. Spend time keeping your work space clutter free so you can always feel on top of your game.

organised desk setup

How to Organise Your Desk

Now that you know the importance of having a clutter free standing desk surface, it's time to address the best way to go about organisation. Everyone's work space will differ, but there are some general tips to keep in mind at the same time as you work toward the most productive desk setup.

Keep Commonly Used Items Close

Your keyboard and mouse, planner and office supplies should always be within reaching distance. What's most important is to give each of them their proper place so you're never digging through a pile of papers or knocking over coffee mugs in search of something. When everything is in its proper place, you'll naturally fall into a flow that makes you more productive.

The organisation doesn't stop at your physical workspace, either. Part of desk organisation includes keeping your computer's desktop nice and neat so that you have adequate space for your keyboard and mouse. Don't cram dozens of files with random names into one space. Make folders, sub-folders and clearly label everything so you can always find whatever you need. Don't let incoming papers languish in a messy, permanent stack - ensure they are sorted daily. Having a monitor mount can also help free up precious desk space, not to mention helping to position your laptop screen or monitor at your ideal height.

Store Everything You Don't Need to Work Somewhere Else

Personalisation is nice, but if your standing desk is constantly cluttered with things you don't need, it can become a huge source of stress and distraction. You need a clearly defined system that stops a disorganised desk in its tracks; no more mail, plates, cups or anything else that gets in the way of the best desk setup for productivity.

You have to treat your existing desk setup like your work station, because that's exactly what it is. Your tasks may be performed on a computer, but the attitude, energy and focus you need to get the job done all stems from the environment you're in.

Productive Desk Layout

5. Limit Your Personal Items

We've talked about personalisation as a benefit to desk organisation, but make sure you are conscious about the pieces you choose. This is a place of work, not a playroom, so avoid filling your desk or office with so many trinkets that it becomes cluttered and distracting. Consider your identity at work. What makes you feel the most confident and inspired? These are what you want around you. The best desk setups are clean, open and have a few personal items that lift your spirits without drawing your attention away from work.

6. Organise Cables

Using cable ties and cable management channels can keep your technology and desk setups organised. At Desky, we make affordable, easy-to-use desk cord organisers that are perfect for home office organization. With less cable clutter, your desk space will be easier to clean as well.

7. Buy a Comfortable Ergonomic Chair

Posture makes a huge difference in productivity, and setting up your ergonomic office chair to be ergonomically correct is an important part of the perfect desk setup at your home office. Before you get there, though, you will have to first find the right desk chair for you.

standing desk with ergonomic office chair

A good office chair has an adjustable height that allows you to remain sitting straight. A posture effective chair promotes good posture and positions your hands roughly parallel to the mouse and keyboard. There are also ergonomic keyboards that help prevent strain to your wrist or arm muscles.

Avoid any so-called ergonomic chairs that offer no lumbar support. Sitting on a stool or backless chair can cause you to lean forward, putting strain on your neck. Likewise, this posture can also result in shoulder knots and back pain. You should also be able to comfortably cross your legs when sitting.

Here are a few tips for setting up your ergonomic office chair:

  • Set the seat height to keep feet flat on the ground. If you can't reach the floor, use a desk footrest.
  • Adjust the backrest to provide some space between your knees and the chair. Approximately 1 inch is suitable.
  • Try different lumbar support settings until you find one that is comfortable for you.
  • Keep armrests level; your elbows comfortably rest on them at all times, keeping your arms at your sides rather than reaching forward.
  • If your chair has a headrest, make sure that it is straight. Your neck should be balanced above your shoulders rather than extended forward or leaning back.
  • If your monitor screen is too low, a monitor arm can be helpful in order to prevent eye strain.
  • Laptop users can consider a laptop riser as well as an ergonomic keyboard so your laptop screen will be at the ideal height for you.

8. Stay Hydrated

If there's one thing everyone should always focus on doing throughout the day, it's drinking enough water. Between coffee, tea and energy drinks, you may think you already get enough hydration, but you'd be wrong. Hydration from pure H20 is incomparable; no amount of coffee is going to make up for a lack of water.

Your body needs to be hydrated to feel refreshed and energized; did you know that caffeine actually has a dehydrating effect? Your refills from the coffee pot can actually worsen your hydration levels, so you should aim for no more than two cups of Joe each day. Instead, keep a refillable water bottle by your side. You can even download a hydration app that sends helpful reminders to pause and replenish.

standing desk setup near windows

By drinking enough water, you'll find your energy levels more stable, stress lower and productivity improved. Being hydrated can also help prevent fatigue, lower stress and even diminish anxiety. You should always look to your body first when treating psychological symptoms. Many times, our minds are telling us that what we're feeling indicates a deficiency somewhere in the body and can unconsciously decrease our work performance.

9. Breathe

You might be surprised at how shallow and tense your breathing can become when you're focused on work. Deep breathing is one of the easiest and most powerful ways to reduce stress anytime, anywhere. There are tons of variations you can try, but you don't have to memorize any fancy routine to experience the benefits. Also try these simple neck and shoulder stretches while at your desk to prevent shoulder pain.

Here is a simple deep breathing exercise anyone can do:

  • Adjust your posture so your neck is straight.
  • Lower your shoulders, noticing any tension and releasing it as you relax the muscles.
  • Inhale through your nose, slowly until you have taken as deep of a breath as you can.
  • Hold for three to five seconds.
  • Exhale slowly through your mouth, making a "wooshing" sound.
  • Repeat two to three times whenever you feel stressed.

Through deep breathing exercises, you can reduce stress (which results in increased blood pressure) and stay focused throughout the day more easily. Sometimes, when we are caught up in our own anxieties, we feel it's better to push ourselves hard than step back. While perseverance is an excellent and important tool, it's equally important to take pause and restore your balance.

In addition to giving you a sense of calmness and control, deep breathing has many benefits for your health. Research suggests that deep breathing can slow your heartbeat, lower blood pressure and activate the parasympathetic nervous system.

10. Keep the Noise Down

Whether it's traffic outside, kids playing or dogs barking, limit your noise pollution as much as possible. Noise distracts your attention and can even increase your stress if you're constantly trying to ignore unpleasant sounds. You should also consider the effect that your favourite music might have on your productivity and ideal workspace.

Some sounds can make you feel energized and inspired, and you can easily zone out for hours while you work to the beat. But other times, music you use to tune out other noises around you can prove equally distracting.

Sometimes, the most effective solution is to put on white noise instead. White noise sounds are available on YouTube for free, and they can be a flat, gentle static, the whir of a fan, the thrum of an airplane engine and many other soft sounds. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that ambient noise may enhance creative cognition. In other words, white noise might help you become more creative and can play a part in the best desk setup for productivity.

Even if your job doesn't require any sort of artistic expression, minimizing distractions to stay focused can maximize productivity, keep your stress low and make work more enjoyable. Take a look at our range of standing desks and desk accessories and build your ideal setup for productivity today.

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