The space you work in has a huge effect on how productive you are. Given how much time you’ll likely be spending there it seems only natural to put some thought into how it can make you the most efficient you can be, as well as making it look nice.



This is probably the most important piece of advice on this list. Creating a workspace that’s separate from where you relax is key to being able to work and to being able to rest. You subconsciously associate different places with whatever you do there, so if you’re working where you sleep you’re not going to be able to relax as easily. I’m very lucky to have a kind of office room, but a workspace doesn’t have to be a room to itself. Setting up a desk away from your bed or sofa, or even just working on one side of the dining table, would work just as well. Basically, as long as you’re not working in your bed, you’re going to be more productive and sleep better.


If you can set up somewhere near a window, or under a sky light. A number of studies have shown that exposure to natural light improves your focus and performance . Not only that but having access to sunlight can help you sleep better.


Common sense dictates that you’re not going to be able to focus very well, or for very long, if you’re not comfortable. So find a comfortable chair or a thought out standing desk set up. Make sure you can work with good posture. I know it’s in every office place health and safety guide out there, and so ignored on a daily basis, but it’s super important for your long term health. So try not to hunch over that laptop.


It’s so easy to fill your desk with everything but the kitchen sink. Every notebook, pen, 3 year old receipt and lost bobby pin can migrate onto your desk without you even noticing. Streamlining what you have on your desk is really worthwhile though, it means you don’t have to hunt to find what you’re looking for or get distracted by things you don’t need. To find out what I actually used I put all of my stuff away in a box for a week and only pulled things out when I used them, anything I used every day, or thereabouts, made it onto my new desk.


  • Pen Pot (ft. pens, pencil, stylus, scissors, x-acto)
  • Journals
  • Post-It Notes
  • Water
  • Week Planner
  • Speaker
  • Hand Cream
  • Plant
  • Inspiration Wall

(The last two aren’t practical necessities but I really missed them)


I’m a huge believer in a clear desk leading to a clear mind, I definitely notice a difference in my ability to concentrate when my workspace is tidy. This is a natural by-product of only having what you need on your desk, but it’s also something you, or at least I, have to consciously work on. Keeping cables and loose papers tidy not only looks nice but saves you so much frustration and time.


Making your workspace isn’t just a vanity project, if it looks good you’re going to want to spend more time there. Personally I like having art postcards and bits of inspiration around as visual stimuli. But whatever you want to decorate with, here are some tips for creating a really aesthetically pleasing space:

  • Things look better in odd numbers, so put images up in 3s, 5s, 7s etc.
  • Pay with texture, adding in a plant or something sculptural can really help break up a space
  • Play around with scale, having pieces in different sizes encourages your eyes to move around
  • Consider colour, whether you’re going for something bright and bold or subtle with small pops of colour, plan out what you’re putting up

What are your desk essentials?

I love Affinity Designer by Serif , and I think anyone starting out in design, or just after simple design program, will too.

I used the trial version of Affinity, and then bought it on its first release, meaning I’ve used it for almost two years now. I’ve had chance to work through its kinks and its quirks, and it’s had chance to work with me through a rang of problems. After two years, we’re still going strong.

The first thing to note about Affinity is its price. It can be yours for a one off payment of £39.99 – I think I bought mine for even less than that. Compared to a subscription for any of the adobe packages, that’s a pretty sweet deal. Don’t let that price scare you though. Despite being wallet friendly, Affinity Designer works as well as any other professional programs.

For me it functions as a lighter version of Illustrator. It has some photo editing tools, and would

serve someone looking for something very simple, but if photo editing is your main game, Affinity Photo is more likely to be the one for you. It doesn’t have all of the functions of Illustrator. But if you’ve never used Illustrator, there’s very little you would want that you wouldn’t be able to do.

Affinity Designer’s simplicity means it’s much easier to play with than Illustrator. You can mess around and Command+Z to your hearts content. That easy undo function is such a small thing but it makes a huge difference. The user interface of Affinity Designer is all about those touches. It has the familiarity of Illustrator, and similar programs, but without the need for fancy keyboard covers to help you learn the short cuts. Tools and functions aren’t hidden behind layers of drop down menus. They’re visible and accessible from the get go. Those little touches mean that Affinity Designer is much more beginner, or lazy user, friendly. This intuitive UI, which is set out with how people actually use Affinity in mind, is so brilliant that it cam as no surprise to me that it won Apple’s Design Award in 2015

Now, I’m not sure that Affinity Designer will ever replace Adobe Illustrator. As a professional design tool, Illustrator still can’t be rivalled in sheer scope. It’s an industry standard for a reason. While I now have access to Adobe Creative Suite, I still find myself coming back to Affinity Designer. It’s just so intuitive and so easy to use. If I’m not doing a job that needs the extra functions of Illustrator, why would I bother with the extra hassle of finding the functions I do need? That’s why my love affair with Affinity Designer continues, it’s comfortable and easy, and on a late, coffee fuelled evening, what more could you want?

If you’re interested you can check out Affinity Designer here. 

*All opinions are my own and sponsorship free (obviously).