When I first set up my own business one of the first things I did was set up and organise my desk (probably like a lot of you).
I had my lovely, shiny new Mac and I was all ready to go. It wasn’t until quite a few months down the line that I realised that I’d set my desk up just like I’d had it in paid employment – very dull and utalitarian and strewn with papers.
Because I was trying so hard to prove I was serious about my new business venture, my desk got all serious too. It didn’t make me feel very happy and it didn’t make me feel very creative.
My turning point was when I bought a lovely wooden desk and I wanted it to look beautiful. And I wanted to walk into my office every morning and feel energised about starting the day. And it was New year around that time so I was wanting to feel healthier too.
So this culmination of events made me rethink my work space.
Over the past five years, through running my own business, I’ve met some fabulous business owners who have helped me make my life healthier.
So with their help, I’ve put together 8 tips to enhance your work space and make it more healthy.
Declutter, declutter, declutter
I cannot stress this enough. Because I got a new desk, I was really ruthless with what I put back onto it. I only wanted things that I really loved (good excuse for a little shopping trip!). And I was so sick of not being able to find things – I was keeping every single scrap of paper ‘just in case’.
Hazel Dow of Freespace says:
” Only have items in your office that are: essential to your work, enable you to work more effectively and bring you joy!
Ask yourself some tough questions – do I really need to keep this?
1 Financial stuff (just check how long you need to retain it for)
2 Old work projects (be ruthless)
3 Furniture and equipment you no longer use – let go of that broken printer and old PC that have been sitting there for years.
Consider various options for filing and choose the one that will help you access your material most easily e.g. filing cabinet, magazine files, box files, ringbinders.
A well organised office space will: save you time, help you think more clearly, increase overall efficiency and lower stress levels.”
Drink more water
My new year resolution at this time was to drink more water in general.
Yes, we all know it’s good for you. But did you know that it’s extra beneficial when sitting in front of a screen as it dries out our eyes and our skin. Not being hydrated enough can affect our brain function – we’re not as productive at work as we could be.
I had no idea until I noticed a real difference gulping back the water.
Nicola Procter from Shipley and Saltaire Wellness Centre has some tips:
“1 If you find plain water bland, try infusing it with fruit and herbs such as cucumber, citrus, berries, mint, ginger. Experiment with different flavours till you find one you that you love.
2 If you prefer hot drinks, add slices of lemon and ginger to hot water.
3 Find an accountability buddy and text/email/skype each other reminders to drink some water.”
Organise healthy snacks
Some people snack on biscuits all day, I forget to eat. When I get engrossed in a job, time has no meaning and I can go 3-4 hours before I realise I’ve forgotten to eat something (there’s a point to be made here about taking regular breaks…).
Thinking ahead and having some healthy snacks to hand on your desk will keep your brain working better and help you stay productive.
Jenny Oakenfull from Active-Eat says:
” One of the most common questions I get asked is “How do I resist the temptation of biscuits, crisps and chocolate?”.
The simple answer is to be prepared, having regular meal times with sufficient amounts of slow release carbohydrates and protein will help you to stay full for longer and help to regulate your blood sugar levels.
If your blood sugar levels drop you are more likely to grab the first thing you see and before you know it you’ve eaten half a packet of biscuits! Once you hit this point you can’t override it, it is your body going into survival mode. However, you can help to prevent yourself from reaching this point.
Along with eating regular meals eating healthy snacks can keep your blood sugar levels stable, snacks don’t need to be complicated or expensive, having a tub of houmous in your fridge and a jar of nuts on your desk are great ways to fill up. My favourites include: an apple and some almond butter (or about 10 raw almonds if I’m out and about) or houmous and vegetable crudités.
If you have a bit more time then you can make healthy snacks and put them in the freezer, take a few out in the morning and they will be defrosted by mid-morning – this also helps to stop you eating a whole batch!
Why not try my lemon date balls, chia chocolates, avocado bites, healthy rhubarb flapjack or raw carrot cake bites. “
Calm your mind
Working from home and on your own can be extremely hard. You might be on your own all day, there’s no-one to ask for advice or help, no-one to keep you motivated or even for a 5 minute chat to get you away from the computer.
Your business is your passion, you have no boss, you make the rules and the decisions – you want your business to succeed! Staying positive, focussed and motivated is essential for your business to grow and thrive, rather than just tick along.
To help keep a positive mental attitude, Ursula from Your Expert Self says:
” Be mindful of what you actually tell yourself. If you let your inner self-talk silently tell you things such as ‘you’re incompetent’, ‘you can’t cope’ or ‘you’re no good’, be assured that this will undermine your everyday resilience.
At such times do yourself a favour, and;
1 Check in with yourself and listen to what your inner self-talk is actually telling you.
2 Weigh up whether your self-talk is ‘accurate’ and more importantly, ‘useful’. What evidence do you have to prove it’s true?
3 Make a choice to whether you agree or disagree with your self-talk.
4 Take Action where appropriate. E.g. If you agree that you ‘can’t cope’, go source help! If you disagree and believe you can cope, remind yourself of this when the thought comes up!”
Light a candle
Yes, really, light a candle. And why not? Health & Safety aren’t going to come to your desk and tell you off. That’s the whole beauty of working for yourself.
Treat yourself to a fabulously scented candle for whatever mood you want to be in – lavender to relax, lemon to concentrate, cinnamon for energy.
I love a cinnamon candle especially in the winter months when the days are shorter and the weather can be dreary. Lighting it late afternoon and sipping a hot chocolate whilst tapping away at my Mac make me feel cosy and grateful not to be making a long commute home.
Turn up the radio or not
In the mornings I like to listen to the radio, in the afternoons I turn to Spotify and crank up the volume with Rock beats. Sometimes I turn the volume down and have classical music playing in the background. And sometimes I just open the window and listen to the sounds outside, reveling in the quiet.
My point being, you can totally please yourself. It’s your office.
So, set up a hifi in the corner, or a radio, or load your ipod with tunes or create some Spotify playlists. Create the perfect mood for yourself so you absolutely love to walk in your office and get on with your day.
Pin your dreams to your notice board
My notice board used to be full of reminders and things I had to do and things to sort out. Looking at it actually gave me a head ache. And because it’s just to the side of my desk, every time I looked up from my work, I was faced with more pressure, more things to sort.
So I took off all those draining pieces of paper. Every single piece.
And I replaced them with postcards and pictures of things that make me smile – holidays, art, my dream house, a car I would love to have, a scan of my little one. So now, every time I look up from my desk, I actually feel happier. Try it.
Treat yourself to some flowers
There’s nothing as uplifting as a beautiful bunch of flowers. So treat yourself because you work so hard at running your own business (plus probably juggling kids, the house, and a million other things). You really do deserve it.
And while you’re at it, pop a couple of pot plants nearby too. Not only are they calming to look at, but some varieties even help clean the air.
I’d love to hear how you keep your work space happy and healthy, let me know in the comments.