The Productive Office – Apple Inspired

This post provides a glimpse into my newly designed Apple inspired office!

Although the focus of this website is primarily iOS design solutions, I mentioned in my About page that I’ll also discuss Apple products and development productivity. I’m a firm believer in embracing techniques that promote productivity. I’ve been primarily based out of my home office for many years now, and for me, a well designed office space is an important factor in being productive, motivated, and efficient. Ultimately, this contributes to delivering quality products to customers and everyone is happy.

My 1Goal App is about motivation and productivity. While writing it, I decided that it is time to make some changes to my main workspace in order to achieve a more clean, sleek, and tidy environment. Since I’m a big fan of Apple products and software, I thought it would be appropriate to create a look that is Apple inspired. In between technical posts, I’m going to include a few posts with details on what I’ve done to create my Apple inspired space where I can really focus.

In this post, we’ll take a tour of my solution for hiding cables, computers, and other equipment in a way that blends in nicely with my new decor. Although my previous setup had the cables somewhat hidden, they were still visible if you looked under the desk on the floor. Also, laptops were on my desk, as well as the cable modem, wireless router, USB storage drives, and other components.

I now have two desks and two worlds. One is my Mac OS X space, and the other is my Windows space. OK, they do overlap as I run Parallels Desktop on my MAC so that I have Windows 7 there as well. As an aside, I’m a fan of Parallels as it was simple to setup, very slick, and I’ve really had no issues with it at all.  It impressed me from the moment I installed a trial version. It is one of those software products where I’m happy to pay the relatively small price given how well it has worked for me.

Back to my productive office. My two desks are perpendicular to the office entrance, and I sit in between them able to face either desk depending on what I’m working on. I wanted to have a cabinet for each desk that houses all the equipment for that desk. The goal was to have each cabinet at a lower height than the desk, and less depth compared to the desk such that it would fit between the desk and far wall and not be visible from the entrance of the office space. I could not find the right unit anywhere, given my specific needs. I also wanted pure white to match my new pure white desks. The solution was to build two almost identical units myself, customized but flexible on the inside to accommodate the equipment in my two worlds today, and as technology changes in the future.

I found a pattern for a DIY Computer Storage Cabinet, and modified the plans according to my size requirements. I omitted the wheels you see in the plan, in favour of felt pads, and I customized the size, added ventilation holes, and also built doors with hinges and magnetic catches. Here are photos illustrating some of the pieces painted on the inside, and an assembled unit prior to outside exterior sanding, painting, and adding doors/hinges.

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After spending a couple of fun evenings working on these units, here are the before and after shots for each of the two desks. From messy cables and equipment to everything being neatly tucked away, but easily accessible.

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The doors pop open when you push on them, so no need for handles on the front. I designed the height such that my NETGEAR router could be on top of one unit but would be hidden from view when looking into the room.  With felt on the bottom corners, they are easy to slide if the need arises.

I added quite a few round ventilation holes in my DIY cabinets, but nevertheless my two laptops and the cable modem give off quite a bit of heat. For peace of mind and to ensure things remain cool, I purchased two of these Cooling Fans from Amazon. Ordered on a Saturday, arrived two days later on Monday, and what a difference they have made. I  monitor the temperatures of the laptops and can see a notable difference. However, the biggest change was with the cable modem. That device used to run quite hot, and now with this small silent fan running on top of it drawing the hot air away, it is cool to the touch. These fans are great!

I had built doors for the front and back, but since the backs of the units are not visible from anywhere in the room, unless you walk around behind the desks, I elected to only put a door on the front, at least for now.  It also provides better ventilation and also much easier access to equipment.  Even installing the rear doors would be much better than a conventional storage unit one would buy since it would still provide easy access rather than a typical closed back configuration.

My office has always been somewhat of a therapeutic sanctuary for me since I love what I do and therefore spend a lot of time in the office. I’ll post some of the other details as I find time to do so and also as the decor is tweaked to make it exactly how I envision it.  I’m still doing some of the finishing touches, including adding some cool pictures, placing diplomas and professional certificates on the walls, and sourcing neat storage solutions for my library of technical books and office supplies.  Even the seemingly small update I’ve illustrated in this post has made a big difference for me and I’m enjoying how sleek and tidy it is around my desks, with everything easily accessible in my glossy pure white cabinets.

The next post that I’m working on finishing is a project to illustrate a custom settings screen with multiple UIDatePicker controls. I’ll be putting it up on GitHub so check back soon for that, and thanks for checking out my productive office!

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