The shopping list for a new home office gets bigger and bigger every year, with more technology invading our desks and forcing us to divide our attention even further. From new phones to do-all PC applications, the average design office is absolutely packed with technology, most of it largely unnecessary.
However, despite the wave of endless technology a lot of entrepreneurs, designers, and programmers are seeing the light, quite literally. Minimalist offices aren’t about making things more difficult – although they occasionally can – but about changing the dynamics around work. From eliminating needless comforts to boosting overall work output, investing in a minimalist office can have a number of interesting, inspiring, and unusual effects for your business.
Less Technology = Fewer Distractions
While technology is often sold as a way for us to help ourselves work, once it hits the tipping point it can become nothing but an unwanted and unnecessary distraction. An office stocked with a desk phone, cell phone, and VOIP program is no more able than one without, but it’s packed with distractions just waiting to rob you of your time.
Instead of having an application, appliance, or utility for anything and everything, invest in gear that covers you in 90% of all situations. You’ll quickly find that a lot of gear, both physical and virtual, allows you to do almost anything in your regular office routine without cluttering your desk space and PC desktop. Cut down on technology and you’ll become less distracted, more productive, and much better at your work.
Single-tasking cuts down on wasted time
Five screens are great for trading currencies, but they’re not particularly worthwhile for most digital workers. As online workers, we have a tendency to pick up everything we need for our PCs (or Macs, if you prefer) without thinking about the utility. As a result, applications stack up in the taskbar and we quickly lose track of just how much there is that’s robbing us of time.
Instead of having everything open at once, with your attention constantly divided between them, why not stick with the same three basic applications at once? Instead of keeping your instant messenger open 24/7, why not cut it out of your work routine entirely and focus on single-tasking alone? When you take distractions out of the equation altogether, you’re free to focus on the task at hand.
You don’t need that much technology to work
Really, you don’t. Even as web designers, the bulk of our work is carried out in the same catalog of five programs. From coding to graphics, flash animation to on-site testing, the vast majority of web design work can be performed on a PC that’s almost freshly set up. Outside of the core graphics suites and coding applications, software quickly becomes overkill.
It’s a similar situation on the hardware side of the equation. Multiple monitors are gold for productivity, but extra technology in other places doesn’t really serve any purpose. Take a ‘technology audit’ of your office, and cut out anything that takes up space but doesn’t provide any direct application.
Technology robs you of energy
Ever get off your computer and feel sleep-starved, uncomfortable, and overwhelmingly tired? Staring at a computer screen isn’t just boring, but energy-zapping and somewhat unhealthy. Night owls are especially at risk – staring at a computer screen well into the night tricks the body into believing that it’s day, which makes the post-work sleep even more difficult. Instead of nodding off instantly, you lie there sleep starved and still convinced it’s 2pm.
If you’re a late-night worker, there’s one simple way you can make the transition from work to sleep easier: get off the computer earlier. Cut your computer time out an hour before you begin sleep, and spend the time in low light, still working. A break from the computer screen isn’t just about switching into night mode, but inspiring productivity and creativity – some of the best business ideas and innovations happen when we’re slightly tired and free from technology (at least that’s the case for many of us).
Improvisation keeps work fresh and interesting
It’s much more fun to have to think on your feet than to be able to fall back on the same old tools and applications. A desktop toolbar loaded with fix-all programs and do-everything applications certainly helps with efficiency and workload, but it steals away creativity and makes work, quite frankly, boring.
Instead of having everything at your fingertips, set up your office so tasks require improvisation and occasional analytical thinking. With the elimination of just a few tools, you workday can become more interesting, significantly more creative, and switch your mind from office-drone mode to that of an inspired, innovative entrepreneur. Challenges aren’t always bad, and sometimes it’s best to embrace them somewhere as comfortable as the office.
Your Turn To Talk
So, how is your office? Are you the ‘stuff everywhere’ type or do you embrace minimalism? Please take a minute to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.