Make Your Workspace Work for You

Ever watch someone sit down and shoehorn themselves into an uncomfortable position and then say this is how they work? I see it all the time with students and co-workers in my day job. Maybe their chair is too high or too low, or the monitor is tilted at an improper angle, or there’s clutter preventing them from getting their mouse or keyboard into an accessible position.

I don’t know the psychology behind it. Maybe it’s laziness, maybe it’s fear of touching something that doesn’t quite belong to them, or maybe they’ve done it enough it’s just plain habit. They sit down so focused on the task that they forget to adjust their environment.

The only advice I can give is be aware of it. Fix it. Get comfortable. Adjust your workspace to you, not the other way around.

Mixed Sushi and Orange Roll

Who says you have to work in a stuffy office?

I bought a high-backed executive chair some time ago because I was told they’re comfortable. I hate it. Turns out it’s made for tall people, and the extra cushioning in the front causes problems with my legs. Now I use a simple metal fold-out picnic chair because it’s much more comfortable.

I was given a fancy corner desk. It has a keyboard tray, and the monitor sits nice and high. Too high, unfortunately. I was constantly having to tweak the angle of the monitor, and I started to get pain in my neck from having to look higher than normal. Now my iMac sits on the flat work surface of the desk instead. It doesn’t look right, but it’s much more comfortable.

Try different music. Try a different chair. Clear your desk entirely and start from scratch. Comfort breeds productivity. If where you’re writing isn’t working—even if it’s only for this particular moment—change it.

If you’re feeling cooped up in your office, leave. This is why it’s good to invest in a laptop, or to use an iPad for writing. It’s not uncommon for me to sit outside and write. I also don’t mind writing in a café somewhere, be it a Barnes & Noble, Starbucks, or someplace local (and I don’t even like coffee). I’ve even done some work at restaurants during lunches or at bars while waiting for friends. John Hornor Jacobs goes out for a bike ride somewhere to write. Brian Keene travels out to his family’s cabin.

Find your happy place and be productive.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

One comment

  1. Mark Cummuta says:

    Excellent advice! I think habit is a big reason people fall into an uncomfortable work environment – they’re given a desk or work space, they get a short time to get “comfortable” & then WHAM, the work load hits.

    I think another reason is perceived work effort. “How can you/they/I be REALLY working if you/they/I have time to ‘play around’ like that?”

    I find the only time I can literally re-adjust is if I come in early, stay late, or during lunch. And that’s only occasionally, as well.

    Good one!