Office Gear You Should Never Skimp On

Your office, wherever that may be, is sacred. It’s the operating room for a surgeon, the kitchen for a chef, the workshop for a craftsman.

Still, too many of us “skimp” when it comes to the place where we spend most of our time.

We settle for crappy chairs, desks that bump our legs and poor lighting. The result is a space that’s uninspired and worse yet, repulsive. The quiet dread of “going to work” might be more related to your work space than you think.

So where should you draw the line between splurge and skimp? I suggest five areas:

  1. Your desk. No company has a budget for a granite-topped desk. That’s not what we’re talking about. Rather, your desk should be big enough for the work that you do. If you’re bumping your knees, your desk isn’t big enough.  You may want to experiment with a standing desk while you're at it.
  2. Your lighting. Fluorescent lights are depressing and turn your eyes pink over time. A subtle addition to your workspace like a desk lamp can make a huge difference.
  3. Your computer. Again, I’m not advocating for a $4,000 Apple Mac Pro. Few places have a budget for this. Your computer needs to be functional, bug free and up to date.  If something is lousy (malfunctioning keyboard, fuzzy monitor, etc.), ask for an upgrade.  Typically IT departments only roll out new gear when people as for it.  Don't be bashful.
  4. Your monitors. Adding a second monitor can make a big, big difference. Financial analysts have known this for years. If you don’t have one, ask someone at work if there is an extra and try it for a week. You’ll be surprised in the difference that the extra screen real estate makes in your productivity.  I've used an iPad as an extra monitor and even that, albeit small, makes a difference.
  5. Your "open thinking" materials. This was a surprise for me. By open thinking materials, I’m talking about notebooks, whiteboards, etc. The moment you feel “cramped” by your creative space, that’s an indication that you need more room to write, draw, etc. Get as much open space as you can. Turn a wall into a white board. Request additional notebooks.  Give yourself permission to draw, sketch and map out your thoughts.  After all, your thoughts are the seeds of your productivity.

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I could have mentioned plants, background music and a few other things.  All are important.  What gear do you value the most when you are at work?