So maybe your workspace isn't a cluttered mess, but maybe it just isn't the haven of productivity you wish it was. If you're looking to upgrade from your modest laptop on a desk to something more impressive, here are 10 cheap DIY upgrades to make it a battle station worthy of your time.
Note that you don't need to follow all these projects to the letter. As with all DIY projects, think of them as inspiration — they may not work in your space the way someone else did them, or you may find a cheaper way to do the same thing (like getting supplies at Bunnings instead of IKEA).
#10 Build a Better Desk
Photo by verseguru. If the kitchen table just isn't cutting it any more, it might be time to get a real desk. But don't go rushing out to the store to spend hundreds of dollars — you can save some money by building your own, not to mention craft one that fits in your space perfectly. For example, you can make a pretty awesome, large desk out of an old door. Perhaps you want to build yourself a standing desk so you aren't sitting down all day. If you want to be really cheap, you can even build one out of wooden pallets. Or, if you're old school, you can obviously build a custom one from scratch.
#9 Add a Whiteboard or Chalkboard to Your Workspace
A simple whiteboard can be a big boon for productivity, so while you're building that desk, why not build in a space for scratch work? Heck, you can even make your entire desk dry-erase friendly, so you can use whatever space you have at the ready. If you're more of a chalkboard fan, you can add a chalkboard surface too, but the whiteboard is probably an easier, less messy way to go.
#8 Raise Your Monitors to Eye Level
Staring down at your laptop or computer monitor is bad ergonomics, and if you're sitting at that desk all day, you're going to feel it. Instead of going out and buying an expensive monitor stand, though, just build your own — you can make one insanely cheaply with just a wooden shelf and some door stops or furniture legs. If you want more of a floating stand for a multiple-monitor setup, we've got options for that too.
#7 Manage Your Cables
Getting cables under control is one of those things we'd all like to do, but never really get around to it. Well, there's no better time than now — and it doesn't have to cost you much. The IKEA Signum tray is a great option at $19.99, but if you prefer something that hides your cables away a bit more — and requires a bit more work — store those cables in a rain gutter behind your desk. And, if you're a laptop user, keep those cables from falling off your desk with a few binder clips. See the video above for a few of these tricks in action.
#6 Add Some Power or USB Outlets to Your Desk
Occasionally, you'll need quick access to power at your desk for something that isn't already hooked into your (now hidden) cable management. What then? Well, you can build a few outlets into your desk, whether it's in the form of this fancy USB hub, or a power outlet box you can move around as you need it. It's a great way to give your phone or camera a quick charge at your desk, without creating another permanent mess of cables.
#5 Give Your Webcam or Microphone a Moveable Stand
If you regularly use your webcam and/or microphone, having them in one static position isn't ideal. So, for something a bit more versatile, grab a flexible desk lamp — like this cheap one from IKEA — and convert it into a moveable stand for your webcam, microphone or whatever else you need. That way you can have it front and centre when you need it, move it around and get it out of the way when it isn't being used.
#4 Raise Your Speakers to Ear Level
The best way to improve your speakers — without buying a new pair, of course — is to raise them up to ear level. Not only will the music sound better, but you'll gain a little bit of space back on your desk. Luckily, speaker stands are pretty easy to make, whether they're floor-standing models for big speakers, on-desk models for studio monitors, or smaller ones for on-your-desk speakers. If you're more of a headphone junkie, you can make a cheap, simple hanger out of a desk leg or one of these folding hooks from IKEA.
#3 Add Some Extra Storage
You may not use as much paper as you used to, but a good workspace still needs some storage — especially after you start running out of space on your desk! A good letter tray can give you some much-needed storage, and doubles as a stand for your laptop or other tech. Alternatively, if your desk doesn't have drawers, build some makeshift storage under the desk for quick access.
#2 Hang Your Hardware
All that technology can add up fast, especially when you include things like routers, modems, power bricks, and other heavy things. Remember the cardinal rule of space-saving: build vertically. If you need somewhere to store all that hardware, try hanging it on the wall with a few hooks, or — if you have a lot — with a pegboard organiser. You can put it on the wall or behind your desk, if you have the room, so it stays out of sight.
#1 Build a Real Office Anywhere
So you're all excited to build yourself a kick-butt workspace, but you don't exactly have an extra room in the house for your battlestation. Fret not: you can build an office just about anywhere, even if it's in a closet, tiny nook or that shed out back. Heck, even a garage can work (if you have somewhere else to put the cars, of course). With a little outside-the-box thinking, you can get a real workspace just about anywhere you want, even if you aren't living in a multi-room mansion.