What does your workspace look like? If you’re actively working at your workspace, it may be covered in an eclectic layer of paperwork, electronic cords and old yogurt lids. And let’s face it, that’s not an inspiring place to work.
The design of your workspace is more powerful than you’d think. In fact, a positive workspace can set the framework for greater inspiration, productivity and creative success. It can help you feel more in control and better able to focus on your work. Not to mention happier while you’re doing it. So how can you reap the tremendous benefits of working in a space you love? Well, for starters…
Make sure you have a quiet space.
First things first, if you’ve been working from a cafe, your couch, or worse, your bed, it’s time to upgrade. Working on the couch is not a breeding ground for creativity and inspiration—it’s the breeding ground for Netflix and Facebook breaks. Find a corner of your home (or even a dedicated separate office) that is quiet, private and exclusively your own. If that means converting your walk-in closet or laundry room into a workspace, then that’s what it’s going to take. Find your own little version of a workspace and stake your flag in it.
Optimize your soundtrack.
Research has shown that around 70 decibels of background noise is most conducive to focus, concentration and creative thinking. In fact, having a little soundtrack to your work actually improves your workflow and is much more comfortable than a place that exists in near-silence. Try instrumental music (like movie soundtracks, jazz or classical) or invest in a noise machine that generates white noise. You could even try an online sound generator like Coffitivity, which offer tracks that capture the hustle and bustle of your favorite cafe work spot.
Choose the right mood lighting.
Any old lighting won’t do. While a well-lit workspace is important for your eyesight and productivity, you don’t want it to be too bright. According to a German study, dim lighting actually encourages freer thinking and improves innovation. While this might not be what you’re looking for when you’re filing taxes, try dimming the lights when you’re embarking on a new project or brainstorming. It may just encourage that spark of creativity you’ve been searching for! Trying to let as much natural light in as you can is an excellent idea, too.
Decorate with intention.
It is important to decorate your space with things that inspire and define you. Don’t just order some mass-produced prints online. Hang clipboards on the wall with magazine photographs that inspire you. Place found items that you love on your shelves. Work struggles can make us feel less than joyful. To combat this, surround yourself with inspiration and positivity.
Curate your clutter.
Inspire yourself with the right kind of clutter. Think novels, magazine articles to-be-read, notepads and aesthetic trinkets. My desk is full of handmade pottery filled with writing implements and found feathers, notebooks, doodles, post-its, a Werner Herzog book, geodes and a plant. Every single item on my desk inspires me. If it doesn’t, it goes into a drawer.
Create a snack stash.
If you want to be able to stay at your workspace for long periods of time, be prepared. Bring in snacks or have a stash of granola bars and nuts that you can dig into if you need a pick-me-up. Also try keeping an electric kettle and some tea nearby so that you can refuel and feel cozy. And, of course, a large pitcher of lemon water for hydration. A dry brain is not a good work brain.
Get a plant.
Even if you don’t have a green thumb, a plant can bring some life and vibrancy to your workspace. Green may also be the color of creativity, so the more plants, the better. If your not a plant-person, try a small succulent or a cactus—they are practically indestructible!
Unlike plants, too much technology can suck the life out of a space. Yes, you probably need a computer, but try to keep your workspace as a distraction-free zone. Set up your computer so that it doesn’t remember your social media or video passwords automatically. That way there’s a sort of moat you have to cross to get to your most distracting pages and applications, which can dissuade you from procrastinating. Also avoid distracting text messages by putting your phone on Do Not Disturb during periods of intense focus. Free your mind up for the work at hand and take frequent breaks to indulge your technology habit, or, even better, get some fresh air.
Your workspace should be a place you love going to. Invest the time in making your workspace beautiful and soothing. You’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to get work done, even taxes!