8 easy solutions for your workspace problems

By Julia Cartwright

Most of us know intuitively that the spaces we do our work in have a big impact on how we feel as we go about our work. For example, a dark, messy desk with no storage can make the mere thought of sitting down to get started seem like a burden.

It’s really important to ensure that you have a dedicated physical space to store all your materials and records. Some of you might choose to have a dedicated room or alternatively a dual-purpose area that also functions as a workstation.

“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning and focused effort" Paul J Meyer

As a designer, I am passionate about creating spaces that are not just beautiful but functional in the best possible way – that help you achieve what you want to achieve in the space. And this principle isn’t something that I merely pay lip service to; I live by it! So, for example, when I was setting up the online arm of my business, it was just as important for me to create a space for myself that would help me get my best work done as it was to get my website and marketing stuff right (even though no one but me ever sees my home office!). I wanted it to feel inspiring and organised, which are great qualities to bring to any creative workspace.

“A nice workspace at home will encourage you to use your talents and give more structure to your ideas and work schedule. Working in a nice area will always bring out the best in you” Irene Hoofs, Blogger

Your workspace is structured around your activities and needs. As a quick start guide you may want to refer to the following steps to get you started - 

Step 1 – Assessing your needs and requirements is your first port-of-call

  • What type of work needs to be done?
  • Will clients be visiting the space?
  • Will my teammates visit for collaborative work?
  • What type of materials will be referenced and/or stored?
  • What type of equipment is needed?
  • When will I be doing the majority of my work?
  • Ensure you have thought of space for activities such as “storing”, “retrieving” and “processing”

Step 2 – Getting organised

After you have looked at your requirements, it is time to get your own workspace set up, let’s focus on how to get – and STAY! – Organised. To begin with, ensure you have undergone the following initial steps:

  • Look at your space and only use items that are purposeful and functional.
  • Clear the clutter and dead energy! This is so important for our creativity and for getting organised.
  • Ensure you have enough daylight as well as artificial direct light.
  • Set up your Wi-Fi and computer.

Step 3 – Mistakes to avoid

There are some common mistakes you should avoid and these are:

  • Not having enough storage
  • Having a shortage of space for reference materials
  • Holding onto out dated equipment
  • Not planning for all the cords and adaptors

Step 4 – Equipment

You may be wondering why I am touching on the geeky stuff? Forget about quick and simple décor, you want to ensure you have considered all your practical requirements that allow you to operate professionally.

It is important to invest in equipment that provides you with excellent speed and efficiency. Stay away from the big and ugly items, like the large printers. There is such a large selection to choose from these days that I am sure you can find one that is not too obtrusive in size and colour. If you install a business phone, I would ensure it is set up separately from your home phone. You can then make sure your phone has the capability for messaging, conferencing and speaker functions.

Step 5 – Lighting tips are especially important and you should ensure you

Surround yourself with as much daylight as possible.

  • Use a combination of general and task lighting. A great task lamp on your desk will be essential for evening work, and when the natural light is not enough.
  • Use daylight bulbs for task lamps.
  • Keep your screen away from a direct light source; this will result in eyestrain.
  • Are aware how overhead lighting can result in a direct glare on your computer screens.

Step 6 – Layout

  • Select a desk big enough to support your computer and work related items
  • To prevent chaos, look for storage solutions for papers that may accumulate on your desk
  • Use pencil cups or trays to keep all writing instruments in one place

Step 7 – Ergonomics

It is important to invest in a chair that supports your comfort and posture.

A good chair should have the following features:

  • Adjustable tilt tension and tilt lock
  • Adjustable armrest height, armrest width, and pivot
  • Sliding seat pan for adjustable seat depth
  • Adjustable seat height
  • Optional lumbar support adjustability

If you are someone who is on the computer for a long time, you need to consider ergonomic mouse instruments shaped to fit your hand and soft keyboard pads that allow rest and relaxation for the wrist.

Step 8 – Colours for your space

When it comes to your office it is important to revisit colour psychology.

  • I would stay away from blues, greens and violets, as they evoke feelings of calm and may send you off to sleep.
  • Green can foster concentration and balance, it also and add a freshness and vitality to a work environment
  • Yellow is a happy attention-grabbing colour. It evokes feelings of optimism. Stay away from bright yellows, as they might be distracting or overpowering.
  • Red is energetic and generates feelings of excitement. It should be used as an accent colour only.
  • White, ivory, Gray and tan are colours that are subtle and can be combined with accent colours for vitality and energy.
  • Purple have been proven to stimulate imagination, focus and concentration.

How are you going with setting up your workspace?

Julia Cartwright is an Interior Designer, Property Stylist, and Creative Director at Julia Cartwright Designs. Julia helps people turn outdated or empty spaces into places they love.

She specializes in Concept development, Up-Styling homes using existing furniture, and Pre-Sale Property Consulting. Julia also also has an e-course The designer home style program that helps you create a home that not that only looks gorgeous, but also helps you feel better, achieve more, and live the kind of life you want to be living.

Is your work space destroying your writing?

By Rebecca West

What would happen if you tried to run a marathon in shoes that didn’t fit? You might cover some distance, but you sure wouldn't do it at your best level, right? Yet every day we ask ourselves to write inspired, funny, life-changing blogs in environments that work against us.

Where are you working? At your dining room table with piles of junk mail and kid’s homework pushed to the side? On your living room couch in front of the TV? In a disorganised office with shabby walls and a calendar from 2009? If you are not working in a space that makes you feel and behave like a professional, you may be sabotaging your own success.

Every time you walk into a professional space — from a restaurant, to a hair salon, to your CPA’s office, you make judgements about the quality of the work based on what you see. Delicious colours and intimate eating nooks elevate the food. Creative colours and eclectic design suggest the ability to create personal and distinctive hairstyles. Tidy piles and a clean space suggest an organized CPA in full control of her client’s accounts. Just as we evaluate other professional spaces, our own work environments speak to us and affect the output of our writing. 

When you’re starting out it’s perfectly reasonable to carve out whatever space and time you can. Just getting a post published is cause for celebration, and no one ever needs to know that you did it while feeding the baby, running the dishwasher, and wearing your pjs. But as you grow as a professional your output will grow and mature too, and may deserve a bit more focus than a stolen five minutes perched at the breakfast bar can give you. 

My first home office was a tiny two foot wide desk I built into a nook in my bedroom. It worked great for a couple years, but as my company took off I spent more and more time at that little desk and having that space in my bedroom meant that I was kind of taking work to bed with me. Not great for my sleep quality or my work-life balance. 

I moved my office into the guest room and it worked amazingly well for me for another few years. It looked and felt like a “grown up” space and helped me advance in my career. I had a wonderful view of my garden, and a door I could close when my workday ended. 

A few years later I outgrew that space too, needing a place where I could have a few employees and where it wouldn’t be quite so easy to “just do a load of laundry.” My work needed more of my dedicated attention. I was actually pretty astonished at the efficiency I gained by moving out of the house.

A client of mine found the same thing to be true. As a work-from-home mum with a growing business she realised that by keeping her office at home she was giving half-attention to both her kids and to her work. Even though she wouldn’t be at an away-from-home office more than about 10 hours a week, by creating a dedicated work space in an office building a few miles from the house, she discovered that she could do more in less time. In that space she could really focus and do her best work, and then when she came home she could give devoted and loving attention to her kids. No more having the stress of trying to be all things at all times.

Now, if you’re juggling kids and work and just doing your darnedest to get in the writing, I know you’re doing your best — celebrate that! But at the same time, you have set yourself some professional goals, and to succeed you have to honour the goals and yourself enough to create both time and space for it. Take a moment to evaluate if the sacrifices you are making in your space, by “borrowing” a corner of the dining table, is actually getting in the way of reaching your true potential. You are a professional, maybe it’s time to create a room of your own. And besides, wouldn’t it better to be away from your kids for a few hours and then give them your full attention than give them half-hearted attention for twice that amount of time and not really have accomplished your best work in the end, despite the sacrifice?

Remember, there is no prescription for the “perfect” writing or work space. For some it will be a coffee shop or co-working space because that social energy is essential for wonderful writing. For others it will be a quiet nook decorated in soothing, spa-like colours, a calm respite from the busy world where the words can flow. For me, I need nature. In Seattle the weather is too unpredictable to write outside regularly, so I bring the outside in. My home office overlooks a lush garden where I get to watch the birds at the feeder, and my professional office has a couple of windows letting the daylight pour in and a giant 4’ by 6’ print of trees in a rainforest.

To reach your highest potential you have to find what inspires your best work. If you’re feeling a little stuck, try my guided mediation — I developed it specifically to help folks look into their own heart to discover what they need from their space. You can also spend some time on Houzz or on Pinterest collecting images of rooms that inspire you. One other trick is to think of someone who you greatly admire, someone who’s work you aspire to emulate, and imagine the environment in which you might expect them to write. While it might not be anything remotely like the space in which they write, that won’t matter, because in the end it is just important to create a space that draws out the amazing writer in you.

Love where you work. Trust me, your writing will thank you for it.

Rebecca West is a Seattle-based interior designer and environmental coach helping folks in transition create spaces that support and nourish their next chapter. She has a special love for empty nesters and the newly single, bringing a lively and optimistic energy to these bittersweet life moments. On her website she shares before and afters of transformed client homes, each one a story of another person embracing a change in their life. Meet her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, and watch for her upcoming book, Happy Starts At Home.

Event // Creative Collective Launch Party


I love a good party. I love it even more when it involves clever, creative business women celebrating milestones for themselves. When I saw that The Creative Collective had launched with an official - and perfectly styled - soiree I just had to share for some Monday office inspiration - because every office or workspace should require fresh flowers, fruit and sugary donuts right?

The Creative Collective is from the US and gathers the best female talent in the DC area — from creative entrepreneurs to badass businesswomen (how great is that company description by the way?!) and brings them together under one roof. For many of you that dream of one day having your own studio or bringing a bunch of creative women together in a similar concept, this post is for you - to inspire and perhaps give you the push you need or at least the motivation to start pinning away on your 'office envy' Pinterest board.