Hardeep’s Productive Workspace in Birmingham, UK

Hardeep’s Productive Workspace in Birmingham, UK

“Sometimes I want to add more to my setup. New speakers or more lights. But there really is no need”

Trish Ramos
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Name: Hardeep Nagra

Location: Birmingham, UK

Occupation: Banker, YouTuber, Skillshare teacher

Room size: 5 m² (54 ft²)

Cost of the setup: £2,2K ($3K)

Social media: YouTube

Website: SkillShare, Hardeep S Nagra

Hello! Tell us a bit about yourself

During the day, I work nine to five creating and delivering new mortgage propositions for a UK bank.

Outside of that, I create the occasional YouTube video or Skillshare class when I’m not busy looking after my two young boys. They’re five and two, so quite a handful!

I’ve worked in various roles within the finance industry over the past ten years. I also completed a two-year leadership program when I was 22. It was life-changing.

It transformed me from a hard worker to a smart worker.

And as a result, I’ve not done too badly for myself career-wise.

When COVID hit the UK in March 2020 and forced us into a nationwide lockdown, my projects at work were put on hold.

I was no longer doing a three-and-a-half-hour daily commute to work.

Hardeep’s Productive Workspace in Birmingham, UK
Hardeep says he’s always been a creative person. “I love art & design, photography, and I’ve dabbled in video creation in the past but never anything serious”

With all the free time I gained, I decided to wake up my creative side and started a blog on the only thing I’m good at — being productive!

Despite the fear of filming myself, I also created a YouTube channel and a couple of Skillshare classes on productivity apps and tips.

A couple of my videos have done better than I could have expected.

But it’s challenging finding the time to balance work, home life, and personal projects at the same time, regardless of how productive I can be.

Take us through your setup

Item Model
Monitor LG 27UP850-W 27p IPS UHD
Monitor mount Bontec Monitor Arm
Monitor light bar BenQ Screenbar
Laptop MacBook Air M1
Speakers JBL Creature III
Headphones Sony XM4s
Keyboard Logitech MX Keys
Mouse Logitech M720 Triathlon
Chair Ocee Fresh Mesh Chair
Laptop stand DOB SECHS Laptop Stand
Standing desk Maidesite S2 Pro
Light strip Govee RGBIC
Picture frame Jordan Digital Art

I’ve worked from home ever since the first lockdown. I absolutely love it.

Using r/battlestations as my inspiration, I quickly set about creating my own office space at home.

It was a bit tricky, though.

We don’t have much space in our three-bedroom house here in the UK. So we converted the boxroom of the house into a shared space for my wife and me.

Shared boxroom with two tables
On one side of the room, Hardeep has his own desk setup. On the other side is his wife’s desk. “Although it’s used more as a vanity desk than a work desk,” he says

I wanted a desk that would fill the room’s length and decided on the IKEA Barkaboda kitchen countertop. It’s wide, heavy-duty, and I like the walnut colour. It used to sit on two Micke drawers from IKEA.

They’re okay, despite being not very sturdy. They also have become less stable as time has gone on. So I recently invested in these Maidesite standing desk legs.

I’ve kept the Micke drawers for storage purposes, but the desk is much more stable now.

A productive workspace with an IKEA Barkaboda kitchen countertop
New desk legs allowed Hardeep to work from any position — sitting or standing. “It’s great for a job like mine where you can spend the whole day at the computer”

I have two computers on my desk. On the left-hand side is my work laptop, and on the right-hand side is my MacBook Air M1.

In the centre of the desk is my 27-inch LG 4K monitor. It’s a great monitor that lets me connect to my MacBook with a single USB-C cable and my work laptop via a single display port cable.

The room is tiny and faces north, so it can get quite dark. Not so bad during the summer, but it can get depressing in winter when there’s less daylight.

So I invested in these Govee LED lights. I fitted them to the perimeter of the desk.

It’s made all the difference in lighting.

A productive workspace with an IKEA Barkaboda kitchen countertop
Hardeep adjusts the colour depending on the mood or the vibe he wants to create

I recently bought a BenQ screen bar that sits on top of my monitor. It illuminates my entire desk and automatically adjusts hue and brightness, which is great.

On the back wall, I have an IKEA Skadis pegboard. It’s one of my most practical additions because it lets me store things that I use daily and need quick access to. For example, cables and my Sony XM4 headphones.

On the other side, I’ve had a hanging display of my photography over the years.

I’m not completely keen on how this looks, but I use it to remind myself that I have a creative side. I’m not sure what I’d put here instead.

Finally, I have a Michael Jordan wall art I created myself in Photoshop on one side of the desk. And on the other side is wall art from NASA.

What’s your favourite item on your desk?

By far, the best purchase I’ve made for my desk is the Logitech MX Keys.

I wanted a Bluetooth keyboard that would let me switch between my MacBook and work laptop effortlessly while not having to worry too much about keyboard layout.

The MX Keys fit the bill in every single way.

Logitech MX Keys keyboard
Hardeep says the MX Keys a joy to type on. “The keys are responsive and feel great to touch type on because of the slight spherically dipped keys”

It can connect up to three devices via Bluetooth, and the layout I have caters for both Windows and Mac.

It’s great for me because it means I can dock both laptops and have just one keyboard to switch between the two.

What apps or tools do you use to get things done?

I’ve been using to-do lists for as long as I can remember.

It’s always been handwritten to-do lists until I came across two apps a few years ago — TickTick and Things 3. I initially used TickTick for around a year before switching to Things 3 on my Mac.

Now I use Things 3 for personal things and TickTick for work-related tasks and projects.

Why both? Because I fell in love with the ease of Things 3 on my Apple devices.

TickTick screenshot
Both apps have made a huge improvement to Hardeep’s productivity. “I can’t imagine not using them again”

I can only access TickTick from my work computer. They both do the same things — from simple tasks with due dates and reminders to more advanced things like managing entire projects.

I created two Skillshare classes that show how to use both apps alongside the GTD (Getting Things Done) productivity system. Feel free to check them out.

What books, blogs or podcasts recently caught your attention?

There are three books that I always recommend to people.

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, and Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.

These books changed the way I approach life.

When I was commuting three-and-a-half hours a day, I’d spend a lot of time listening to Tim Ferris’ podcast. He interrogates the world’s most successful people about how they live their lives.

Amazing insights and a lot to be inspired by.

Any tips for other makers who want to improve their workspaces?

KISS. Keep It Simple Stupid.

Sometimes, I want to add more to my setup. New speakers or more lights. But there really is no need.

A productive workspace with an IKEA Barkaboda kitchen countertop
Hardeep has to remind himself regularly that sometimes less is more

You can quickly spend a lot of money on things that don’t provide you with much use.

And visually, I prefer a cleaner setup. It’s less distracting.

What does your typical day look like?

My day always starts the same way.

Up at 7:30 am and straight to the coffee machine. The day doesn’t truly start until the second cup of coffee.

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I quickly scan the latest news and check emails before diving into Things 3 to see what I have planned for the day.

I’ll rejig things depending on what my day looks like at work and home.

Then I’m off to do the school run before starting my workday at 9 am up until 5 pm.

Productivity-boosting RGB workspace at home
“I’d love to say that I’m in a state of productivity all day up until I finally get into bed for a night’s sleep, but that would not be realistic!”

I spend the evenings entertaining the kids, preparing dinner, working on personal projects, or most often with the TV on in the back while I’m slumped on the sofa trying to zone out!

Your tips for working from home?

Spend five to ten minutes each morning planning your day.

There’s a thing called decision fatigue.

We, humans, have a finite number of decisions we can make each day. After that, our ability to make better decisions starts to falter.

The better you can plan your day, the fewer decisions you’ll have to make, which should hopefully lead to a more productive day!

We’re a reader-supported publication. This article might contain affiliate links. It means we may receive a commission if you click a link and buy a product that our maker has recommended. The interview was done independently.

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