As a software engineer, your productivity and comfort are crucial to your success – which is why your workspace has such value. A better workspace can help you focus on your work with fewer distractions, allow you to maximize your total productivity, and help you feel less stressed at the end of the day.
The question is, what steps do you need to take to create the ultimate programming workspace?
Depending on where and how you work, you may have total flexibility over your workspace setup – or none whatsoever. This article assumes the reader is working from home or has ample flexibility to set up their workstation as they see fit. If this isn’t the case, the best approach is to make changes to the variables you can control and make do with the ones you can’t.
Your journey starts with finding the right property, if you have the ability to search for a home that suits your working needs. You can work with a real estate agent and/or a property management company to narrow down your list of criteria and find properties in the area that meet your requirements.
Overall, you’ll be looking for:
- Space. You don’t need a ton of space to do basic programming work. Some of us are even comfortable working from a laptop on the couch. But for a more professional workspace, you’ll need at least 100 square feet (ideally) and plenty of room for your desk, chair, and other essentials. You’ll also want to consider how your office space fits in with the rest of the home; is it easy to access or more secluded?
- Privacy. Your property should also afford you some degree of privacy. Being next to a major highway or in the middle of a concentrated urban area can be highly distracting. Similarly, you’ll want to make sure your office has a door that can close, giving you privacy to focus on work when you need it.
- Views. Many developers like to rest their eyes (and resist the onset of computer vision syndrome) periodically during the workday. Accordingly, it pays to choose a room for your office that has a window with a clear view of the outdoors. ##Invest in the Right Equipment Better equipment isn’t going to make you a better problem solver, but it can support you in working faster, more efficiently, and with less stress.
- Power and specs. Invest in an SSD for faster bootup times and a hefty bit of RAM to help you with multitasking. Depending on what you’re working on, a powerful graphics card could be a boon as well.
- Peripherals. You’ll be using your keyboard and mouse on a near-constant basis, so don’t skimp on these; buy ergonomic options that make you feel comfortable when working.
- Extra monitor(s). Once you upgrade to a second, or even third monitor, you won’t want to go back. The extra space for additional windows can make a dramatic difference in how you work. ##Invest in Better Furniture Don’t forget about the furniture.
- Desk. A desk with plenty of space and the appropriate height can help you stay organized – and support healthy posture while you’re working.
- Chair. Ergonomically designed chairs can minimize the possibility of developing chronic back pain or posture problems over time. This is especially important if you’re sitting for the majority of your full-time work schedule.
- Lamps and lighting. Better lamps and better overall lighting can reduce eye strain and make it easier to focus on your work. ##Perfecting the Mood After that, you’ll want to put in some finishing touches to improve the mood. The “best” factors will be different for everyone, but these are some of the most common choices:
- Speakers. A high-quality speaker system could be exactly what you need to better enjoy your favorite music as you focus on your work. Noise-canceling headphones could be a similarly beneficial investment.
- Art and photos. Hang pieces of art, or some of your favorite family photos on the wall. It can spark your creativity or help you destress in the middle of a tough assignment.
- Scents. Clean your office regularly so it smells fresh – and use candles, incense, or air fresheners to fill the space with your favorite scent.
Once you’ve got the right setup in place, you’ll find that your productivity and mood should both improve. However, you’ll still need to remain active and adaptable. For example, it’s important to keep up with cleaning your workspace regularly so it doesn’t become unnecessarily cluttered or dirty. You may also find that your taste in workspace peripherals changes over time, requiring you to adapt on the fly. Don’t be afraid to make tweaks and keep adjusting your workspace as necessary.