Cubicle Bliss: 10 Steps to Create an Inspiring Workspace

If you read my bio, you can clearly see that I spend the majority of my life at work sitting in a cubicle.  On average we’re talking about a good 10 hours per day.  You could probably Small Cubicle Prison call me an “expert” when it comes to cube-sitting.  So, instead of treating my cubicle like a prison cell, I tend to look at it as my home away from home.  In fact, based on the time I spend in it, I probably should call it my home.

I’ve always been pretty organized and have prided myself on my organizational skills.  In fact, I need to be.  So I’ve made a conscious effort to treat my cube with the same respect that I treat my home.  Here are some of the steps that I have taken to make my “work home” as inspiring and livable as possible.

Click Here to See Some Cool Cubicle Accessories

1. Keep it clean!

I don’t know about you but I NEED to have a clean workspace.  Go visit a co-worker who has a hell-hole of a workspace and, chances are, that person is unorganized, disinterested, and probably miserable.  So what I do is every Friday I clean off my desk with a cleaning agent and clear out my keyboard with a cleaning duster of compressed air.  Staying on top of it is the key and I’ve found that once a week works well for me.

2. Get a comfortable chair and keyboard.

Ergonomics, or the applied science of equipment design, has become extremely important in the workplace.  Chances are your company will invest in an ergonomic reclining office chair for you if you ask for one.  They would much rather spring for a new chair than pay disability for lower back pain symptoms and having to hire a temp to do your job at the same time.  The same goes for a new keyboard.  Your company will go out of their way to purchase you a new keyboard in lieu of paying for disability for a worker who develops carpal tunnel syndrome.

3. Surround yourself with words to live by.

If you don’t have a corkboard or a whiteboard buy one!  On the corkboard in my cube are the “Four Agreements” written about by Don Miguel Ruiz that I highlighted in a 4-part series that began with this post (shameless plug).  They are the following:

  • Be Impeccable With Your Word.
  • Don’t Take Anything Personally.
  • Don’t Make Assumptions.
  • Always do your best.

You’d be surprised how often I look at these agreements during a typical workday.  What they do for me is give me a constant reminder of how I should conduct myself, not only in the workplace, but in my personal life as well.  I consider these four agreements “best practice” rules in my life.

4. Prominently feature inspirational quotes about life.

I get a lot out of inspirational life quotes and I actually print them out and attach them to my computer monitor. Some of them are seen below.

“The Truly Educated Never Graduate.”

“Stand up to your obstacles and do something about them.  You will find that they haven’t half the strength you think they have.”

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

“As you think so you feel.”

“When the power of love overrules the love of power, we will experience peace.”

“He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.” (Socrates)

“The opposite of war isn’t peace.  It’s creation.” (Marc Cohen from the Broadway musical “Rent”)

5. Display your weekly tasks prominently.

Each Monday morning I make a list of tasks I want to accomplish in the upcoming week. This is where I need to use my organizational skills. At the same time, I try to prioritize them so I can at least get the more important tasks completed first even if I can’t complete them all.  Once again I print them out and pin them up on my well-utilized “corkboard”.

6. Display your yearly goals prominently.

At my place of employment, our year-end bonus is based on the completion of our yearly goals.  So, you can imagine that it is a priority of mine to complete all of them and to have them VERY visible in my cubicle.  So what I actually do is take the list that my boss and I have come up with for yearly goals and I shrink down that list with our copier to a size that is still readable and can fit directly below my computer monitor.  I just use a piece of tape to attach it.  I don’t even have to look left or right to see my yearly goals.  They are always in my view when looking at my computer screen and this gives me the visibility of the goals that I want and it also lets me focus on them throughout the year.  You’d be surprised how often I glance at that list and how well I can keep up with the list as the year goes on. As you can see, I need to focus on my organizational skills or I won’t get these tasks completed.

7. Buy some cool stuff for the cubicle.

There are now so many cool cubicle accessories like colorful wall clips, mesh grid systems, hanging files, coat hooks, hanging shelves, and desk organizers.  They even sell, to my surprise, a flat panel monitor cubicle hanger. Two must-have cubicle accessories I invested in for my cubicle was a cubicle shelf and a hanging letter tray. Both of these shelves opened up much-needed desk space. Desk shelves also allow you to store office items on different levels.

Three Highly-Rated Office Desk Shelves

(Click on any Image for More Details)

The list of innovative cubicle accessories is limitless. One of the smartest and most reasonable investments I made for my own office was a single cup coffee maker. The one that I purchased was the Black & Decker Brew ‘N Go. Every morning I start out my day at work with a freshly brewed cup of Joe using my favorite Starbucks coffee. You could opt for a K cup version but I prefer a drip coffee maker. It saves me a lot of money by not visiting a coffee house each morning and the coffee is as fresh as you can get. I’ve used it now for over a year and it works perfectly every morning.

Sometimes adding fun desk accessories really make the office a lot more fun. Below you can see three different fun buttons that will add a little levity to the workplace environment!

Three Fun Buttons you may Enjoy for your Office

The No Button

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Panic Alarm Button

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BS Button

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8. A pic says a thousand words.

How many times have you gone into a co-workers cube and see dozens of pictures of their kids but you never see a picture of their spouse?  This is a pet peeve of mine so I try to make up for others and include pictures of all of my loved ones.  Also collect pictures from places you have visited, especially while on a business trip.  It will remind you of where you went and it may help you appreciate the fact that your company paid for that trip.

9. Collect artifacts and display them.

I also collect small works of art from anywhere I have visited and try to display them in my cube.  This will help brighten up the dull grey walls with some color and bring back some fun memories at the same time.  I have a co-worker who has a collection of small turtles in her office.  Other workers know about her turtle collection and pick up small ceramic turtles for her on their vacations or work trips.  Speaking of turtles, I had a professor in college who also collected turtles and I asked him why.  He said that he used the turtle as a symbol for his life.  He said that a turtle needs to stick his neck out to get ahead.  He learned early in life he had to take risks to grow personally and professionally.

10. Soothing Sounds.

I need sound during the day while I am working in my cube.  The sounds I tend to listen to are the sounds from streaming sports talk radio.  Others tend to gravitate toward soothing classical or contemporary music, either from their Ipod, streaming radio, or CDs that they brought in from home. 

In fact, the most innovative sound that I have seen utilized by someone in a cube is by a co-worker.  He bought a small aquarium with 2 fish and a pump.  He finds the hum and gurgling from the pump to be a soothing effect on his psyche throughout the day.  Even watching the fish swimming in the tank adds a visual effect that adds a positive, pleasing facet to his cube life.

Cubicle Bliss Keeping my “work home” in order is a priority of mine.  With the proper environment, what some might consider a “jail cell”, could become cubicle bliss.

If you have any other practical suggestions for cubicle design and accessories or tips to realize cubicle bliss please leave a comment.

Also, if you’d like more ideas for fun cubicle accessories and organizational ideas please click here to visit my sister site at Cubicle Bliss!

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