10 Tips To Spring Clean Your Office

As spring turns to summer and the temperature starts to rise, it can be uncomfortable working indoors and, since many of us are now required to do exactly that, it is a great time to spring clean your office or workspace and get it prepared for the warmer weather. You really don’t want to be rooting through endless paperwork to find vital statistics when you’re close to a meltdown!

Workspace with desk and lamp

How to spring clean your office

Here are some simple steps you can take which will make you more organised and a little healthier too!

1.  Clear out old paperwork and shred confidential documents.

But don’t forget that some documents need to be kept for tax purposes.  HMRC says that records must be kept for at least 5 years after the 31 January submission deadline of the relevant tax year and they may also check your records to make sure you are paying the right amount of tax.  I like to keep a hard copy print out of my records to be on the safe side.

2. Invest in some new files.

Even though many documents can be stored on your Google drive or in Microsoft Excel spreadsheets on your desktop, you may still need to keep hard copy documentation of items such as invoices and statements (see 1. above!).

You may as well have pretty files that you enjoy using – or at least ones strong enough to withstand regular use.

3.  Improve the air quality

Believe it or not, there are actually house plants it is almost impossible to kill.  I have to confess my track record isn’t exactly impressive but you can improve your indoor air quality with them.

Plants absorb some of the particulates from the air at the same time that they take in carbon dioxide which is then turned into oxygen through photosynthesis.

You could try Spider Plants, Weeping Fig or Peace Lilies to name a few.

If your tastes are more esoteric, you could try a Himalayan Salt lamp which will also cleanse and deodorize the air.

And of course, a decent desk fan will work wonders in the heat.

4. Invest in some VELUX blinds to block out the sun

Not only will decent blinds help keep you cool, but removing the glare of sunlight from your workstation will stop you squinting at the screen and getting a headache.

Giving your windows a thorough clean both inside and out will help too.

In addition, you can get an anti-glare screen for your computer which will help make reading easier.

5. Keep hydrated

Make sure you have a good supply of fresh water to hand and if you are fuelled by coffee perhaps invest in a one cup coffee maker.  Try to incorporate water-rich foods into your snacks and lunches – salad, fruits and vegetables.

6.  Disinfect!

Thoroughly disinfect your keyboard and your phones which can harbour more germs and bacteria than the average toilet seat!

keyboard and glasses

7.  Use visual aids

If you are a visual person, why not include a noticeboard for planning or a whiteboard for scribbling down your flashes of inspiration.

Some like to have their vision board in front of them – a wishlist of their hopes, dreams, ambitions and goals. The theory is that by having these things in front of you, you are more likely to manifest them in real life.

8. Reduce, re-use, recycle

Make sure you have an adequate sized bin.  We have 2, the second being for recyclable material (all the Amazon packaging!) and don’t forget you can recycle the shredded paper from your shredder too (great as bedding for mice and hamsters!).

Gradually the aim should be to move to a completely paperless office but most of us aren’t quite there yet.

9.  Protect your health

You could also think about wrist and ankle supports if you are going to be spending a lot of time typing to avoid conditions such as Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI).

Most importantly, make sure you get regular screen breaks to rest your eyes and get up and walk about every 45 minutes or so.

My physio says he would not dream of sitting down for longer than this at a stretch if he could possibly help it.

Many doctors consider sitting to be the new smoking and recently leading doctor Sir Muir Gray caused controversy by claiming that Type 2 Diabetes is caused simply by lack of exercise.

10. Spring clean your work bag

It’s also worth carrying a mini-kit of essentials with you to help stay cool and fresh throughout the day.

Make sure your workspace meets your needs and is a pleasant place to work.  After all, you will be spending the bulk of your time there and, for most of us, far longer than we spend with our families unless you are lucky enough to work from home.

Some employers frown upon personal items such as family photos so you may have to restrict your self-expression to funky stationery and a cactus that reminds you of your boss!

*collaborative post with VELUX

How a well designed home office can make you more productive 

When working from home, having a well set out office can be the key to making sure you get your daily jobs done. But putting together a well-designed home office, with the right equipment and furniture, doesn’t just give you what you need to work. It can allow you to work more effectively.  

From creating a space to think to making sure your work seating is comfortable and supportive, (particularly if you have a bad back), here’s how a well-designed home office can make you more productive.   working from home, home office

Space 

Space is essential for working effectively in a home office – space to move, work and think. So having a well-designed office in your home, which provides you with ample space for the basics – a large desk, seating, equipment, and storage to keep the room free from clutter – can help make you more productive.

If you work in a closed-in space, that environment is likely to make you feel cramped, distracted and considerably anxious. So you’re likely to find it harder to focus and concentrate. Whereas, a space that’s more open should do the opposite, allowing you to work more effectively.  

A spacious home office will also allow you to position equipment, like your printer and filing cabinet, without them taking up too much room. This can also make the room feel less overwhelming and more comfortable upon entering so that you’re more inclined to want to work right away. With more space and less clutter, work shouldn’t feel so on top of you and tasks should feel more doable.  

Desk 

A decent-sized, well-designed desk can be a big part of helping to improve your work productivity. Desks of a good length and width can allow you to have what you need to work around you, but at arm’s length. This allows you to use things when you need them, without them feeling in the way, so you can stay focused.

As well as your computer, keyboard and mouse, this includes key equipment – your phone, in-tray, stationary holder, a note pad to write down ideas, and a desk clock to keep an eye on the time – all without making the space feel too cluttered.  (Check out my post of organising your home office the Feng Shui way to maximise the benefits to your health.)

Desks with several drawers at one end can also help speed up the way you work. This is because drawers allow you to keep and grab those urgent items, like spare pens and paper, when you need them. For working effectively, this is better than a desk with a cupboard as it will take longer to access those items – you’re likely to have to move from your chair to look in the cupboard for what you need. Wide desks can also provide you with ample legroom to work more comfortably and, in turn, more effectively.  

Seating 

When it comes to seating, selecting a chair for your home office that provides you with comfort and good posture, alongside the ability to work well, can help make you more productive. Being more comfortable can give you a higher level of concentration. You’re focusing on what you’re doing rather than that irritating tension in your back, for instance.

It should also allow you to work comfortably for long periods of time without fidgeting. However, the seat shouldn’t be so comfortable that you feel so relaxed your work pace slows down. It should instead promote a good posture to keep you seated upright, focussed, alert, and on the ball.  

Office chairs on wheels can also help increase productivity, as you’re able to move around your desk and react to things with ease, without standing up. This includes quickly answering the phone or grabbing a file from a drawer.

A good office chair should also be adjustable, well-shaped and firm to give good support to your bottom and back. It should also have armrests to support your arms when typing. 

Storage  

A tidy office equals a tidy mind. So it makes sense that a home office with ample storage, to keep things tidy and organised, can make you more productive, while a cluttered space can be distractive and slow down your productivity. A well-designed home office will have a range of storage to keep your essentials close by and your less urgent items out of sight. 

Good storage includes a filing cabinet to keep your business documents and shelves to hold key files. You can use shelves or drawers alongside your office walls to store items that you’re unlikely to need on a daily basis, such as your tax and financial information. More urgent items can be stored at arm’s reach, like in your desk drawers, as mentioned above.     

Lighting  

Finally, carefully selected lighting for your home office can also help increase your work productivity. Poor, harsh lighting can result in eye strain, headaches and feeling irritable, which can be distractive.

It can also slow down your productivity, as you’re likely to feel unfocused and need more breaks from work. You should also aim to illuminate your home office space in a way that doesn’t create harsh shadows or undue glare on your computer screen.  

Desk light infront of blue venetian blind

Effective lighting involves an adjustable desk lamp, which can be positioned to bring light to exactly where you need it when doing different types of work. This includes typing, reading documents, sketching ideas, or taking notes on the phone. Also, a home office that’s set out so the desk is close to a window will allow some natural light to come in during the day. This lighting is easier on the eye and more comfortable to work in, helping to increase your work productivity further too. 

Needlite Work Lights Review: Stylish & Practical

What do you do when you work from home and the only space you have is dingy and poorly lit? Or when the existing window gives poor quality daylight?  Or if you suffer from SAD? Read on because Needlite work lights may be the solution.

You might have been considering LED strip lighting to solve the problem, or buying the largest angle-poise lamp you can find, but neither of these options is always conducive to a good working environment – particularly if you are working on detailed documentation, drafting plans or carrying out intricate hobby work such as crafting or model building.

Then there’s the effect poor lighting has on our mood. Who wants to sit in a floodlit space or a gloomy cave? And what of those of us who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

If you are lucky enough to hit upon the right solution, it’s likely that it is not the most attractive one. How do you blend aesthetics and functionality, or design and practicality?

If you’re going to be spending the greater part of your day at your desk, then it makes sense to create as attractive an environment as possible.

Enter Needlite, a small Danish start-up who entered the Nordic market in autumn 2015 with a pretty unique lamp design – a pair of lean and rather elegant desk lamps which shed a comfortable white light across your workspace with true colour reproduction and zero screen reflection.

The company’s aim is to provide the user with an efficient work light but also provide the much-needed daylight at the same time.

We are all aware of the lack of daylight during the winter months in Nordic countries but did you know that all over the industrialized world, people are spending an average of 23 hours indoors – and often in poor lighting – quite a staggering statistic!

We also know that a lack of light can have a severe impact on our performance: energy, mood, digestion, sleep and even our recovery from illness. Some people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Also known as winter depression, winter blues, summer depression, and seasonal depression, this is a condition where people who generally have normal mental health, start to exhibit signs of depression at the same time each year, most commonly in the winter.

Did you know that you need sufficient light to sleep well?  When night falls, the darkness tells our body to increase its melatonin production (known as the ‘sleep hormone’).

When the sun rises, the level of melatonin is suppressed and serotonin (one of the ‘happy hormones’) is produced. One of the functions of serotonin is to tell us that it’s time to get up and get active. Insufficient light during the day will knock this cycle out of kilter.

Note that the company is not claiming their invention is a cure for SAD, however, as a replacement for natural daylight, it is likely to help.

The Needlite has also been designed, they say, to encourage use by making it simple to operate and attractive to look at.

The dimensions are width 100 mm, depth 100 mm and height 457 mm – a decent size which makes the Needlite a design feature as well as a practical item. The lamps are easy to set up – simply set the lamps at each far corner of the desk, ideally about 40-50 cm from your computer screen each side.

The design is both simple and modern but best of all it has a touch control on the top of each light which gives off an adjustable, yet no glare daylight.

The lights come with a 2-year warranty and is so stylish that they are featured in the Danish Design Museum in Copenhagen!

There is also an iPhone app which controls the lamps and gives the user feedback on light consumption and usage. It will even turn the Needlite off automatically when you leave your desk. You can also monitor your daily light exposure to make sure you are getting enough.

The app was an absolute boon to the Husband whose office is in our loft at the top of a rather rickety staircase. He can now use the Needlite to create enough light to work by in the evenings without the usual full glare which wakes the kids. It also means carrying a laptop and coffee at the same time is now a much safer procedure because he can turn the lights on remotely before he ascends.

One other benefit of interest to our niece who is setting up her own photography business is that  Needlite work lights are highly suitable for photographers, art directors and other professionals working with pictures or graphics on screen who need to control the surrounding light in strength and colour. The lights have the exact right colour temperature of 6,500 kelvin and is not reflecting in the screen or in the way when editing.

We found Needlite work lights to be a step above the traditional desk light.  Retailing around the £350 mark, its ability to create a pleasant working environment whilst adding some style makes it well worth the investment.

We are looking forward to testing it further when the clocks go back and the loft gets even gloomier. For the time being, the Husband’s office is certainly a nicer, brighter place to work.

Find out more at Needlite.com and at their UK stockist www.wellworking.co.uk.