Whether you have your own office or work in a shared space, I recommend doing whatever you can to organize your office space to be both functional and productive. If you can pick out furniture, choose shapes and colors that you really like. Don’t make a quick decision, and don’t be afraid to shop around to find a setup that will really work for you. Designing your office is like picking out a mattress - you’re going to spend a lot of time at your desk, so you want to make sure it's both ergonomic and provides all the features you need. That might mean two desks (maybe one standing desk, one sitting desk), or even a treadmill desk setup.
Finally, I’m a bit obsessed with stationary. Using good quality paper, pens, and notebooks generally makes me happy (and picking out these products adds a bit of fun to the daily grind). One of my favorite shops is the Japanese chain Muji. Art museums also usually have fantastic gift shops where you can stock up on gorgeous notebooks. Using office supplies you enjoy can infuse a little luxury into your day, and give you some encouragement for managing your calendar and task lists (more on that below).
Some other things I’ve learned:
- Invest in good carry on luggage - don’t check bags. In addition to avoiding baggage fees, the mobility of carry on luggage is liberating - and it becomes a real advantage if you get bumped or miss a connecting flight. I assure you that you can fit all you need in a good sized carry on, you just have to plan what you’ll need and bring a multipurpose wardrobe. As proof, I can confirm that for one 2-week trip to Japan I managed to fit both professional conference outfits and hiking gear in a carry-on suitcase.
- Science gives you amazing opportunities to experience different cities, countries, and cultures. You have to eat while traveling, so I always use trips as an opportunities to explore local cuisine and dining experiences.
Organizing your workday
I use a combination of online and paper planning tools to organize my own workday. I use post-it notes to capture and prioritize tasks, and the night before each workday I will write down the three most important tasks I need to accomplish the next day (and that post-it gets stuck right on my laptop). For long-term planning and tracking monthly goals, I use an online notecard/bulletin board website called Trello. I love the layout, the ability to drag and color-label cards, and the capacity to organize cards into lists. For me, Trello is fun and intuitive to use, just like my collection of pens and paper stationary. Recently I’ve also been experimenting with the Bullet Journal method, although I’m still on the fence about whether it’s something I’ll incorporate into my organizational strategy.
It's not essential to adhere to all of this advice - I'm only trying to convey some of the things that work well for me. Experimentation is key to success, and when once you find something that works, the next step is to built it into a habit. Take your time—and above all, enjoy the process.