Why You Need the RIGHT Supplies?
Anyone that is good at their job uses the right tools to do their jobs well. If you want to improve your productivity you need to make sure you have the right tools and supplies to help you become the most productive person possible. Luckily you already have most of the tools you need! In fact, I would say most people have TOO many things they do not need on their desk. An optimal workspace will be clean, uncluttered, and ONLY contains the necessary items for you to become productive and complete your most important tasks.
Are More Supplies Better?
I would argue the general answer would be, No. Having more tools and supplies at your workspace is actually a distraction. Anything in excess should be removed from your workspace. The supplies listed below should allow you to handle almost anything that comes across your office space.
Do You You Need All the Listed Supplies?
Short answer is, YES. If you truly want to be productive I would encourage you to have the items listed in the “Absolutely Necessary Items” list below. You will likely have most of the items on the list so you will not need to obtain many more items. In fact you will likely be getting rid of some of your current items!
I searched for over 20 hours on Amazon for the best products that are reasonably priced. I created a list below with Amazon links to options for items that I would recommend. In addition, I have personally used almost all of the items listed.
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The work space depicted in this post will feature the most fundamental workspace that should work for most medical students and resident physicians. However if you are a seasoned attending and have a lot of books or physical files that have accumulated over time, you may need more bookcases, larger desk, or multiple cabinets. I would suggest though, that you trim down on on all physical items that you do not need in your workspace as you go through this process. See if you can only keep in your workspace what you truly need and things that actually help your productivity, not hinder it.
I also refer to the actual items that I currently use in this post as well in case readers are interested.
THE ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY ITEMS:
A Table or Desk
This is the foundation of your workspace. Pick a table or desk that is a comfortable height. For students or those on a budget, I used a Lifetime table throughout college, medical school, and first year of residency. They are cheap, durable, and easily transferred. Until you have settled into a permanent place, I would recommend finding something with a comfortable height for you and enough space for a laptop and writing area. That’s all the space you truly need. More space is not always better because it can cause distractions.
Since I have settled in a home long-term, I personally use an electric sitting/standing desk that allows me to adjust precisely the height for sitting or standing. I absolutely love it and it is so nice to be able to switch between sitting and standing. I went reviewed a lot of electric desks before settling on this one. This one is a great price for $399 and I have had NO problems with it since it’s purchase. Would definitely buy it again!
Here is a link to it. If you do click on that link you should receive a discount or credit for the electric desk.
It is advisable that you invest in a chair that is comfortable. You may be sitting for long amounts of time so find something that is comfortable for your back and your body. I used a fold up chair for years during college and medical school. I would recommend a decent office chair with back support.
I use the ErgoChair 2 by Autonomous.ai. It is not cheap at $299 but I think of it as a long-term investment to my body since I do spend a lot of time sitting. The chair is fully adjustable and has great back support. I would not recommend for people shorter than 5’6” since the neck support is quite high.
This is one of the most important parts of having a productivity system is to have a set of 2 trays where incoming physical things can be placed prior to processing. Trays are often used ineffectively as placeholders for most people but I will go over how to use them in an upcoming post to effectively make your life easier.
I used the plastic paper tray organizer for years and they work great. However I have transitioned over to metal mesh organizers that look more professional and are more sturdy. I put a link to both a silver and black version of the ones that I personally use. The links below contain 4-6 trays. Use the spare ones for other work space areas or donate to a friend!
|RECOMMENDED (Silver)||RECOMMENDED (Black)|
Metal File Organizer – For “BOOMERANG” File (IMPORTANT)
|Metal Organizer (Silver)||Metal Organizer (Black)|
Filing Cabinet, Bankers Boxes, File Folders, and File Guides
A cabinet is actually optional but is highly recommended. This is where you will keep all of your physical items that need to be sorted away. Many filing cabinets allow you to use hanging files. I have tried this approach but personally have found that they are cumbersome and hard to file. I place all of my physical files in Pendaflex File Folders and then organize them inside my cabinets.
If on a budget or you need portability, you can also use Bankers Boxes to organize your physical files instead of cabinets. Most people will need at least one Cabinet/Bankers Box for their physical documents (I only have one since almost all of my documents are now digitally stored). File Guides are A-Z guides that will help you organize your files. You will also need a separate set of A-Z Filing Guides for each filing system that you intend to use. For myself I have one cabinet for my personal files and and used to have one cabinet for my journal articles before I went fully digital with my journal articles.
|File Folders||A-Z File Guides|
Printer and Scanner
|All-in-one Printer||Compact Printer|
|Decent Scanner||Excellent Scanner|
|Trash Bin||Trash Bags|
Desk Organizer and Lamp
It is also important to have good lighting. I personally like the OttLite because the bulb reduces eye strain and is energy efficient. I have had my OttLite for over 10 years and still have not replaced the bulb! An added bonus is that the OttLite is super light and portable.
|Desk Organizer||Desk Lamp|
The below list are the items I personally have available at hand on my physical workspace. These include one of each of the following: blue pen, black pen, pencil, highlighter, Post-it Notes, notepad, stapler, stapler remover, pair of scissors, letter opener and paper clips.
The items on there that some people may not have are the letter opener and the stapler remover. The letter opener is only $5 but will make opening mail so much more efficient. Just be careful because they are sharp. If you have kids then consider the safer version of the letter opener (see video below). My wife introduced me to a professional staple remover (also $5) and it is amazing how neatly and easily it removes staples! Those are definitely two items I recommend getting that many people underutilize.
If you have more items than this, consider if you really need them to do productive work. Or are they serving more as a distraction and preventing you from being productive. I’ve helped form the physical workspace for many people and seldom do we need to add anything to the physical workspace beyond what I recommend below.
|Blue Pens||Black Pens|
|Letter Opener||Letter Opener (Safer)|
Organizing Cables and Cords
I love using this smaller sized storage container for organizing all of my extra USB cables, headphones, and adapters. You can customize the size of the compartments. I use either rubber bands or zip ties to wrap the cables and cords.
For longer cables such as HDMI cables, VGA cables, AV supplies I use a larger storage container. Once again you have full customization of what size you want for the compartments. This container is approximately twice the height of the smaller version show above.
|Zip Ties||Rubber Bands|
|White Board||Marker and Eraser|
I hope you found this post useful. This list was formed after years of trying to improve my productivity at my physical workspace and trying out many items. I attempted my best to take out items that I do not need or use from my workspace and only keep the things that would improve my productivity.
Please do not worry about forming your workspace with these items at this time. Just make sure you have all of the “absolutely necessary” items available. In the following posts (Step 3) I will discuss in detail how to form an amazing workspace with these basic items and precisely how each item fits into a productivity system. Here is also a post on an overview of all 12 Steps!
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