Be productive anywhere—yes, even the shower—with these home-office tips from Chicago Creative Space blogger Max Chopovsky.
It’s hard to browse Max Chopovsky’s video blog without feeling a twinge of curiosity about his home office. The man has seen a lot of offices. As the founder of Chicago Creative Space, he’s visited the city’s quirkiest, most innovative workplaces, scoping out companies like Google, Groupon (haha, hi), and Red Frog Events.
“I wanted to show that there’s a connection between culture and space,” Max says of his decision to start the blog in 2013. He also wanted to combine his left-brain career as a real-estate broker with his right-brain passion, videography. The result has drawn attention from Rahm Emanuel and business leaders like Troy Henikoff of Excelerate Labs—and it’s inspired entrepreneurs who just know in their gut that they can’t set up shop in a basement.
Compared to the lavish offices he documents, Max’s home office is actually pretty spartan. His two most noteworthy pieces are an L-shaped Ikea desk and a huge whiteboard—“the biggest one I could find,” he says—for his ever-changing to-do list. He has design ideas for funkier home offices, too, though. Below are his tips for setting up a creativity-conducive workspace anywhere in your home, whether it’s at a desk or in a shower. Where would you like to work?
AT YOUR DESK
Consider desk height. Reaching your keyboard shouldn’t require a lot of athleticism when you’re sitting—but you don’t have to be sitting. You can easily build a standing desk right on top of your seated one with this ingenious Ikea-based trick from Colin Nederkoorn (the parts cost $22, total!).
If you don’t want to choose just one work posture, Max notes that you can also invest in an adjustable desk, like the ones at Ergo Depot. They’re the desk version of being bicoastal.
If you’re sitting, do not scrimp on your chair. If anything, invest in your chair and live in an apartment with no bathroom. There are tons of ergonomic chair options—Lifehacker rounded up some of the best here. Don’t forget to adjust yours to the correct height, where the seat should hit just below your kneecap, according to Apartment Therapy.
IN YOUR BED
Make sure you’re comfortable. Not the “asleep” type of comfortable, though. For extra back support, you might try a chair pillow. It’ll turn your bed into a chaise lounge—and massage you, if you splurge on this $100 Brookstone one, which has a cupholder.
If your computer overheats sometimes, you can keep your laptop from searing your legs with a HeatShift laptop cooler ($27.99–$34.99). It clips right onto the bottom of the computer, no lapdesk needed.
...But consider changing your work habits. “From everything I’ve read…If you’re working in bed, you’re not psychologically separating your work environment from the environment where you’re supposed to be relaxing so you can fall asleep,” Max says.
ON YOUR PORCH
Human beings like to be outside. “It helps your mood,” Max says. For him, walking around the block is a better stress-reliever than browsing BuzzFeed.
Prepare for brightness. Even on a cloudy day, it’s brighter outside than it is inside. You’ll need shade—maybe a porch umbrella—and even so, you’ll probably turn up your monitor brightness. Your battery won’t last long like that, and if you don’t have porch outlets, you might want to use a wireless extension cord (like this $34.99 one from ThinkGeek).
And shut out the noise. “The ambient noise level outside, from cars driving by, birds, wind…it’s super loud.” Noise-canceling headphones can fix that. Consumer Reports recommends these Monoprice noise-canceling headphones ($118.87). They’re an investment, but they pay off in regular open-plan offices, too. “Headphones are the new closed door,” Max says.
IN YOUR SHOWER
Write down those fleeting ideas you have while bathing. Max turned his shower into a functional workstation with a $5 magnetic eraser-and-marker holder from Amazon (get it here, and hang it on your showerhead). Max’s shower has glass walls, so he writes all over them, but you can also get a portable whiteboard and hook it over your curtain rod.
AT HOME, IN GENERAL
Consider lighting. Light and productivity are correlated for most people, says Max (notable exceptions: programmers, video editors, ghost hunters). To brighten up your workspace, position it near a window, or try out a lamp that imitates natural light, like this Verilux one ($32.95).
Consider how you use your office. Do you want an office that you rush to when you’re inspired, or one that helps to snap you out of a creative funk? If you prefer the former, consider surfaces that double as receptacles for ideas, like whiteboards and bulletin boards (your office role model might be Tris3ct, where even the floors are corkboards). If you prefer the latter, think bright colors and bespectacled deer statues, à la DigitasLBi.
Illustrations: Jen Jackson, Groupon