You spend a third of your life at work, you may as well decorate your desk.
I’ve recently moved offices to a more prominent piece of real estate, in terms of the monopoly board, I’m now on Mayfair baby. The boss wanted my office so gave me and my office buddy his – sweet! At first I will admit I was against the idea. I loved my workspace. In three years we had taken it from a nondescript shell to a colourful, creative and inspirational oasis. Students, staff and visitors were always oohing and aahing at the colours, the positive quotes on the wall and the general feel. We recently had one visitor who was very upset and admitted she had just looked in and thought it looked a nice office so we must be nice people. That was the moment I knew our office was more than just an office, it was a representation of us, so a day later when the boss said he wanted us out, I was gutted.
Three weeks later, my new office is almost twice the size of the old one, yet my space remains virtually unchanged. I still have everything around me that I did in the old one. Visitors that have called in to see what we’ve done with the place have been slightly amused that I have recreated exactly what I had. That’s how I roll, how I work best, with all my things neatly organised and in reach.
With that in mind, I thought I would share with you my favourite parts of my office which you can easily recreate anywhere with a little imagination and of course, Ikea!
Pimp your pinboard
When I first started I asked for a pinboard above my desk and was secretly mortified when the estates team put up a royal blue one. It clashed horrendously with the aqua walls and dominated the room. It stayed that colour all of twelve hours.
You can use any type of paper to cover a pinboard, with the help of a staple gun I covered mine in this beautiful peacock feather art paper from Paperchase.
Originally I added one of my little mottos: be, think, do: positive and a target board in the middle, back when my targets were that easy to track haha.
I also included a few photos, a gouri-gouri charm I bought in Parga and a few little quotes. I had that up for around twelve months before I decided all of the colours were giving me a bit of a headache and I decided to visit Paperchase again and give it a makeover.
New paper, a bit of black card and wasi tape to make a task chart to allow me to keep track of jobs using post-it notes. It’s so much easier to manage than a list as I can move things across, colour code things for different aspects of my job and it serves as a visual reminder throughout the day. Genius! The quotes at the top are from the calendar and the vintage style cards I picked up in an exquisite little card shop down in Islington…I’ll take a look this weekend and see if I can get the name for you.
Invest in an in-tray system
When I started I inherited one of those horrendously ugly, plastic letter tray towers. It was probably older than me and just gave me a sense of dread seeing all of my work in it.
I saw an idea on Pinterest and I loved it so on my next trip to Ikea I managed to get hold of the Kvissle newspaper rack, some washi tape and some cute file folders. If you’re wondering why the top one doesn’t match, that’s because my boss didn’t like the floral folders. They weren’t manly enough apparently. I switched him to plain black once my colour scheme changed to incorporate the black art deco paper. Manly schmanly – it had to match the décor.
This works so well for an office or even for a home family organiser. I can now sort all incoming mail and memos across the team and keep my important papers close at hand without cluttering my desk. Brilliant!
Hang up your holders.
I love stationary. I mean I LOVE it. If you hadn’t already worked that out from my previous posts on my love affair with notebooks. I could spend all day in Paperchase and not get bored, bankrupt yes, bored no. Coloured pens, chunky pens, cute clips, stickers, labels, you name it, I have it. Being allergic to latex I have to be careful concerning the grip on pens so I always provide my own at work. I have pens for different things, I even have a specific pen I lend people when they ask to borrow one. I got it free at the Alternative Parenting show and it features floating fake sperm – I always get that one back. It’s pen-thief proof! Of course all those pens mean I need somewhere to keep them. I don’t see the point in hiding them away in a drawer so I invested in the Bygel rail from Ikea and some accessories. It was so cheap and yet so effective.
The holders cost 60pence each, the rail was around £2.50, the hanging basket, spice jars (for paperclips, rubber bands and staples) and the plant came in at less than £10.00 all in. It’s so nice to have everything in reach without cluttering up the desktop. You can see some alternative uses for this clever storage system here. In my new bathroom I’m hoping to use this for make-up storage.
Go Wild with Washi Tape
What is a girl to do when the power goes down? I decided to go a bit mad with washi tape and covered over our light switch, our air-con remote, even my monitor. Washi tape is a dream for adding a personal touch to an office or a rented apartment. It’s cheap, easy to apply and easy to remove. Best of all, it comes in a huge array of style, colours and widths. You can check out my washi tape project wish list on Pinterest here.
Add some inspirational quotes.
Everyone loves an inspirational quote right? We chose the “Today is going to be a Great Day” Page-A-Day Calendar for this year and every day we are greeted with a positive quote. We started showcasing these on the wall outside our office on the day and then moving them to the “Wall of Positivity” or as our students started to call it “the patchwork wall”. If my office bud or I had a favourite, we would put it near our own work spaces. I favoured the Mumford + Sons “So give me hope in the darkness that I will see the light” whilst she opted for “You can do anything but not everything”. I guess that kind of tells you most of what you need to know about our personalities. When anyone came in to the office with a problem, we would refer to the wall and pick a quote to perk them up.
Now we have moved, we don’t have the wall space to continue with it due to a nice feature window, instead we have added our favourite on to our noticeboards, we still show the quote of the day outside our office and we have a nice stash to look to. I tweet the electronic version every day and you can check them out on my Pinterest board.
Of course there are lots of other ways you can personalise your workspace and make it more inspiring, but these are my favourite. When we moved, it took us around an hour to move furniture, it took me longer just to get everything back around me just so. “Do you feel better now you’ve got all of your things around you?” my colleague asked. “Yes I do” was my response. Of course I do. We spend eight hours a day at work, for some of us that is longer than we spend in our bedrooms yet think of the lengths we go to create the right ambience at home. There’s no harm in doing it at work, it makes the day a little brighter and shows you respect your workplace. So get going and don’t forget to share your favourite tips for doing over your desk!