7 Ways to Create a Productive Workspace

Alexis Johnson

When I started working at ACHIEVE a couple of years ago, I gave little thought to how my space was set up. But now that I’m working towards completing an interior design program, I have learned just how much influence your environment can have on productivity and stress levels.

Here are seven tips for optimizing your desk area so that you can focus and enjoy every moment of it:


Add plants for liveliness

It’s been said that the colour green inspires creativity, and we all know the satisfaction of keeping a plant alive and well, so enliven your workspace with fresh greenery. And if you lack light, don’t be afraid to purchase faux plants. While they won’t do anything for the air quality, they can invigorate your workspace by adding colour and making you feel more connected to the outdoors.

Eliminate clutter with non-transparent storage

If you don’t have the drawer space, opt for an opaque desk organizer to stow away your smaller supplies like paper clips, sticky notes, and extra writing utensils. The goal is to limit busy shapes and colours to encourage a more focused working environment. Paperwork that needs to stay on your desk can be filed in uniform folders so that the text is not visible, limiting distracting details in your eye line.

Remember the old adage, “Less is more” – a clear desk will look nicer than a desk that has been heavily accessorized.

Give yourself space

If you are in a position in which you can move your desk or the furniture in proximity, allow for at least three feet of clearance for the route you take to get to your chair. The goal is to give yourself room to stretch and sit back without obstruction. If the surface of your desk is relatively small, consider moving decorative items such as picture frames and plants to a shelf or side table. Remember the old adage, “Less is more” – a clear desk will look nicer than a desk that has been heavily accessorized.

Stay awake with the right lighting

The importance of lighting cannot be understated. Warmer lighting can contribute to sluggishness by reminding us of relaxing spaces. If you have a desk lamp or wall sconce, choose LED lightbulbs that are higher on the Kelvin scale (3500K – 5000K) as these will best simulate daylight, energizing your workspace and improving concentration. Plus, the cooler hues are excellent for illuminating details, making it easier on the eyes to read paper documents. When possible, always capitalize on natural light.

Use mirrors for a bigger office

Create the illusion of spaciousness by placing a wide mirror on the longest wall. The reflection will make the room feel brighter and more open. If a large mirror is not an option, consider hanging a set of smaller mirrors in lieu of picture frames or art to lighten the space while still adding character.

When arranging and decorating your desk, your objective should be to make the area both functional and inviting.

Be intentional with colours for a stylish office

Vivid colours can be exciting but can also get old fast. Take the undertones of your desk and choose decorative items that match in tone, then stick to a colour scheme. Too many colours and your space will feel disorderly, so choose only one or two colours on top of your neutrals. The important thing here is to be mindful of the shades you are combining; a dusty rose and lime green pairing will look and feel chaotic, but dusty rose and sage will have a calming effect that looks professionally styled.

Personalize with wall art and pictures

Using frames that match or complement one another is a great way to add style to your workspace while displaying your personal images. Hang wall art at eye level and arrange strategically so that they follow a pattern or are balanced in an asymmetrical formation. The layout you choose will be just as important on its effect in the room as the images themselves. When selecting frame sizes, be mindful of their scale and ensure that they are proportionate to the space they’re in. Wall art should accent your desk area and not vice versa.


When arranging and decorating your desk, your objective should be to make the area both functional and inviting. A comfortable environment with limited distractions will increase your ability to focus, helping you to achieve quality work that you can be proud of. Most importantly, you will feel just as great as you are productive.

For more FREE RESOURCES on this topic and others, visit our free resources page.

Author: Alexis Johnston
Public Workshop Coordinator, Crisis & Trauma Resource Institute

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