What you really need...

Anyone who knows will tell you, computer time is not the same as normal everyday clock time. There is some kind of weird digital warp that takes effect when you look into a monitor. Like Einstein's theoretical astronauts, you will find that, while you spent a few minutes at the computer, hours went by in the real world. Without the proper equipment for the human interface (that's you) your body will rebel and you won't get a whole lot accomplished.

If you are the type to operate a small business, you may also be the type to practice other forms of self-neglect. I have walked into many shops where the desk was an old kitchen table and the chair a barstool, with the owner hunched over a keyboard and recalcitrant mouse and muttering about the damned computer system. He's too busy fighting with his environment to actually use the thing. He is putting in time at his computer, but not really getting any computer time. To get the most from your system, you need an environment that will not get in the way.

Take a load off

Of all the things you might buy online, your chair is not one.  Select your chair even more carefully than you select your CPU or printer. It is arguably the single most important piece of office equipment you will ever own. Don't skimp! The right one will see you through several computers.  If you are going to get any real use from your investment, you are going to spend a lot of time in that chair. Spend time in the store before you make your selection and ensure that the one you choose will be comfortable for hours at a time.

A place for everything

When choosing a desk, opt for size and solidity over amenities. Those compartments and cubbyholes that look so neat in the store will eventually just get in the way. I had a desk like that once. I can only guess at the scope of a mind so cunning that it could conceive of a manufacturing process whereby each cubbyhole is rendered precisely the wrong size for whatever I want to put in it.  The important thing about a desk is that it accommodates both you and your equipment. It is your workspace. If it doesn't work well, neither will you. With a big plain desk you can add modular shelves and racks, then change them as your needs evolve.

Ideally, all your peripherals, including filing cabinets, should be within easy reach, or at least no more than a roll of the chair away. Don't be afraid to improvise. A couple of low filing cabinets with a piece of plywood on top makes a usable workspace that does multiple duty as a desktop and storage. The old engineering saw still cuts wood: form follows function.

There are dozens of useful, low cost accessories you can use to make your space more organized and convenient.  Far from being frivolous luxuries, comfort and convenience mean efficiency.

Everything in its place

The basic idea is a simple one. The most important component of your workspace is you. Everything in it should cater to your requirements. Don't settle for anything less.


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