Episode 56: Jenn Uren on Designing Your WorkspaceMar 01, 2022
When you sit down to work do you spend more time preparing to work or actually working? Today we talk about the key components that you need when designing your workspace.
This is a transcript of the This Mom Knows Podcast - Episode - 56
Back in Episode 51, we talked about the three essential systems for your business. One of those was your workspace. So today we're going to talk about what you need in your workspace and how you can make it portable so you can still work from anywhere.
The first thing that you need is an uncluttered surface. This could be your desk, your kitchen table, or even a booth at your favorite coffee shop. But the key is that it is clear of clutter. So your desk will most likely have a few permanent and stationary items on it, as well your kitchen table, even the coffee shop booth probably has a few things permanently on it like special of the day advertising.
So what you don't want are surfaces - on that surface are those piles, piles of papers, piles of folders, or even piles that have migrated from other places in your house. Things you move there simply because you needed to clear a different surface and you had no idea where to put them, so you plop them on your desk.
If you find that you have a lot of piles, then this is probably where you want to start. Go through those piles and sort and purge, you may discovered some themes, you might have school papers, bills, or even random notes that just need to be acted on. So this is going to help you make some more permanent decisions. Do you need a bin for school papers so that when the year is done, you can call down to just the best ones? Do you need to file for your bills, so you have them all together when you need them for pain. Maybe you want a folder for your business receipts to make tax season easier.
Finding a permanent home for these things will keep them off your work surface, or at the very least help you know how to decimate that pile pretty quickly if it does accumulate. It also lets you know what you need for your work. So you can keep that separate and accessible. So files may be one of the things that you need and that you need permanently at your workspace. So this exercise will help you decide if you need those as part of your workspace.
So now that you have an uncluttered surface, the next thing you need is power. Not I can do this power, but actual power. A convenient outlet or power strip will allow you to plug in all the things that you're going to need to use that require power, your laptop, your monitor, maybe a lamp, your phone charger, and all the other things that suddenly die and need power.
And speaking of monitors, even if you have a laptop, a second monitor is always useful. So if you have a zoom call, you can have that on one screen while you do work on another. Or you can watch a training video or tutorial on one screen and practice it and emulate it on another screen. If you do live videos, or you coach in your business, the second monitor gives you a place for notes so that you can more easily focus on your client. So second monitor can be very, very valuable.
You also need pens and paper. So pens, pencils, markers, highlighters, whatever it is that you need in the course of working. And then that notebook or post it pad to write down all the things. So I actually have come to love my iPad and Apple Pencil. But I know other people who love their reMarkable2. So this can look a lot of ways.
And then you also need any tools of your trade. So do you use readers? Keep a pair at your desk. Do you need a webcam? Keep it set up permanently at your desk. Do you prefer a mouse over touchpad? Have it there and ready to go. Whatever it is that you need, have it already at your workspace and ready to go.
But wait, didn't you just say you were going to help us make this portable? And it sure sounds like we're talking about a lot of permanently positioned items, right? Well, I did. And so how are we going to do this?
Well, by planning to be portable, that's that's what we're gonna do. We're gonna plan that out now. So this means that some things you actually might want to have a duplicate of so that moving your workspace is as little effort as possible.
We often lose the most time when it comes to working on setting up and preparing to work. And when we have a workspace that's already equipped for us to work, we can be far more efficient.
So start by choosing a good bag. For being portable. I have a backpack that holds everything very nicely, it has enough pockets to keep it organized. And it's got enough room to breathe, that it's, it's not over packed. But I've also seen some very gorgeous tote bags and messenger bags that work really well too. The key is to find something that you're comfortable carrying and that will accommodate all the things you want in it.
Then decide what can you duplicate. So let's go back through that first list. So an uncluttered surfaces first. And while you may not take your actual desk, you can take a mat that turns whatever your surface, whatever surface you're working on into a familiar and clean space. That way, if you use the mouse, you know, this is my space, I don't have to worry about did the person before me leave sticky things here or whatever.
Are you using files? That you probably can't duplicate those easily, but you can have them in folders that slide easily into the bag of your choice. And that way you always know they're either on my desk or in my bag, but they're always with my computer, right?
So power is next. Now wait, wouldn't that simply be the outlet by the table at the coffee shop? Well, maybe. But what if you need to plug in more than one thing, and you only have one, one plug available to you. Or what if the outlet is a table over and you can't quite reach it. So keep an extension cord in that bag always. And you'll always have access to plug things in. Just be sure to pay attention to whether or not you need three pronged or two pronged options. It's very easy to find the two pronged extension cords. But you don't want to suddenly discover that you need the three prongs and all you can do is a two.
In addition to the extension cord I also like to recommend keeping a second set of charging cords for all of your devices, especially your computer and your phone. That way you don't have to remember to bring the cord. I have a friend who has on occasion gone off to do a full day of work only to discover she forgot her computer charging cord at home. She had everything else she needed and so it just it was frustrating because she had the time but not the ability to work.
Now let's talk about that second monitor, it is totally worth having a duplicate of this, there are some great portable options that you can just permanently keep in your bag. And it makes it so much easier to work remotely for all those same reasons as stated before. And one more thing that makes it nice is if you have one of your kids with you while you're working remotely, they can actually watch something on one monitor with headphones while you work.
Pens and paper. So you can keep all of these in your bag so that you have them with you at all times, and I really encourage this so this is another great area to duplicate. I found a pencil case that I love because it converts into actually a pencil cup, which means I can just set it up next to my computer and I can grab what I need when I need it. I'm not digging around and looking.
And then lastly, we have the tools of your trade. So what can you easily keep a duplicate of in your bag? Do you need a webcam? Well, maybe you keep a second one there that just plugs into your computer. Maybe a second pair of readers. Headphones so that you always have those for listening to what you're working on or what you're watching.
And then I would add in addition to these duplicates, what are some things that you might need when you're not at home that you don't use at home? One example is my hands get very, very cold. So I keep fingerless gloves in my bag so that when I'm out working, I can throw those on and warm up.
And then figure out what are the things that you're not duplicating because those are the items that need to be in both spaces for you to work. So for me, it's my laptop, my file folder, my iPad, and my Apple Pencil.
My phone gets tossed into my purse whenever I leave the house anyway, so if I can throw those four things into my computer bag, and then grab my purse, I am good to go. And that makes coming home just as easy. I just slide those things out of my backpack and onto my desk and it's as if it didn't matter where it was working from the work continues seamlessly. So I can move from my desk to the kitchen table, from the kitchen table to the living room couch, from my home to anywhere else - a hotel or a coffee shop or even my car and I have exactly what I need for working.
So what do you need to do to make your workspace work for you?