How to Build Your Very Own Kick-Ass Workspace.

I’m working in an credit: Busy Days via photopin (license)

A quirky, start-up office.

Drum set in the kitchen, big communal table kinda deal.

Everyone wears shorts.

It’s a cool place to work.

But sitting down for 8 hours a day? No thank you, sir.

If I’m spending 40% of my waking-time working, then everything has to be perfect.

Whether you’re studying, working professionally or hustling in your own time; having a go-to place for getting stuff done is important.

Make your work-place work with you. Not against you.

So what’s the options?

Public Spaces

Maybe you need people to study with, or maybe home is just off-limits.

But how do you pick where to go?

Atmosphere. They all have a certain “feel” to them.

And this affects your mood. And mood effects how you work.

And what gives a place the right atmosphere to get you in-the-zone?


Think of a gym. What people do you want surrounding you?

A gym full of gym-goers that work hard, shout encouragement at each other, and spur you to become the best you can?

Or the same gym, but filled with people who don’t say anything and are always standing around looking at their phones.

The first case inspires you to push your limits. The second doesn’t.

Same gym, different people. Different people, different atmosphere.

And the same goes for study spaces.

Say you need to be creative. Then surround yourself by creatives in a quirky, arty coffee shop. Full of hipsters, writers and the likes.

Say you need to get down to some proper “grit and grind” type work, find somewhere with people doing the same.

Like the silent floor of the library. When all you can hear are pens scribbling and the furious typing of keyboards, you´ll get swept up in the collective work-hard mentality.

Compare this with someplace where everyone’s chatting, eating and laughing.

Sure, it’s fun, but it won’t push you to work hard.

Find the right atmosphere, and you’ll be in-the-zone in no time.

At uni, I studied in a tiny computer lab that was open 24 hours. Barely anyone used it, so it was usually deserted apart from 4th years busting their asses with massive essays.

It was immense for studying. A productivity oasis.

People would go on “garage runs” (the only place open for food/caffeine on Sunday). Serious studying….

Atmosphere was totally grit and grind. Awesome.

Building your in-the-zone fortress at home

How do you build a retreat that’ll keep you productive for hours?

To start…

Your desk.

The only true essential item.

Important things to consider? Chair/desk height combo. Slouching all day absolutely kills your posture.

Personally, I just can’t sit down all day. I hate it. It irks me.

I feel like I’m becoming a hunch-back, and my hip flexors are withering away.

It’s said that sitting is the new smoking. I agree.

In my opinion, standing desks are the way to go.

You can stretch and move about to your heart’s content, while keeping good posture. Nice. No more tight shoulders.

Checking out of a few standing desks on the internet… They cost a small fortune. Like, £300. I don’t want to pay £300 for a desk.

So why not build one? Mental note *build desk*.

How hard can it be?

(*Update: I’ve not built a standing desk, but I AM finding that a my laptop on top of a spare drawer on top of a chest of drawers is an absolutely perfect stand-in for a stand up desk. Plus, it costs nothing. See photo below.)

The Stand-In Stand-Up Desk.                Awesome!

Soak space in motivational vibes.

Fill your study space with every ounce of inspiring stuff you can find.

2 square feet of wall space dedicated to Michael Jordan? Yes.

Old-school world map poster? Or a globe? Yes.

Motivational quotes on the wall. YES.

Framed motivational quotes on your desk. Yes.

The first thing I’m doing with my room back at Uni is putting a black board in it. Then every time you come across a motivational quote, you write it up. The change it in a few days or so.

You could also fill it with ideas, big-ass mind maps, projects, to-do lists…

Books also give good motivation bang-for-your-buck, serving as a constant reminder of the knowledge you could be filling your noggin’ with.

A couple of bookshelves and your sorted.

Really, the possibilities are endless here….

So, you’ve now got a desk and a motivational kick-ass atmosphere. Now what?


Plants purify the air (how zen), smell kinda nice, and completely transform your room.

There’s something about them… While you’re scribbling away it’s just… growing. Doing it’s thing. It’s strangely relaxing.

And if Hot Fuzz is anything to go by, then a peace lily’s your best bet. Apparently good for knocking people out too.

Peace lily? Yarp!

A Venus fly trap would be neat as well. What isn’t cool about a carnivorous desk plant?

If cold, hard numbers float your boat, then check this – a recent study showed that employees are 15% more productive when plants were added to a “lean” workspace.

15% just for a few plants? Seems pretty decent to me.

Essential take-a-break items.

Not like Kit-kats. I’m thinking kettle bells.

Picture the scene:

You’re fed up. You’ve hit a mental block. Mind and body need a quick recharge.

So you pick up a kettle bell. (Conveniently underneath your standing desk.)

You do a few swings. Get the heart pumping. You do a few more.

And that’s it.

You return to work feeling invigorated. And you’ve grown stronger.

What isn’t to love about this?

A chin-up bar fits the bill as well. Or a squishy mat to do some Tabatan sit-ups or crunches.

Again, so many possibilities..

And the standing desk makes the transition from work to workout to work so much more convenient.

I’m fantasising about getting a punch bag in a future study space.

Say you’ve absolutely HAD it with a project. Frustration is off the charts. You feel like you could just punch something…

Hey wait, you actually can.

You pick up the gloves, do a quick 30 second round, and BOOM.

Insta-good-mood-creator right there.

This is definitely happening.

Mental note *buy punchbag*.

Other cool things?

Going with the nature theme, maybe a desk-top jelly fish tank. Like this.

And on that note, I’m out of ideas. Desk, motivational things, plants.

How would you build the ultimate retreat for getting things done? What would you put in it?

(*Update: The motivational, Get-Things-Done HQ is finished. Though I have to admit, there IS a distinct lack of Jelly fish.*)

The Command Center

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