14 Strategies for Creating a Workspace that Kicks Ass and Keeps You Creative

February 25, 2011


  • I obsess over my workspace. It’s my sanctuary, my cave, my castle. It’s my personal laboratory for creating impactful, world-shifting work. Thus, I believe if you want to do kickass work, your workspace itself must kickass. Sure, you can create great things in a laundry room or a closet (I wrote my first ebook on a couch and in a grey cubicle), but it’s not ideal.

    If you haven’t thought about creating a personal headquarters for great work, now’s a good time. And if you have, there are probably a few tips below you can use.

    Here’s a personal checklist for creating a workspace that keeps you inspired, creative and prolific.

    1. Color = energy. My last workspace was filled with color; a cool mint green, to be exact. The energy it gave to the room was inspiring and uplifting. Since I recently moved to Portland, I’m diggin’ my clean white walls, but I know it won’t be long before they’re splattered with color again. What colors inspire you, and how can you incorporate them in your space?
    2. A daily fire library. I’ve gotten into the habit of starting my day with inspirational, fire-lighting reading. Sometimes it’s cheesy self development (like The Magic of Thinking Big) and sometimes it’s a read to get my creative juices flowing (like Do More Great Work). I have a special area of my desk reserved for quick-access to inspiring reading that keeps my inner fire strong. What books never fail to inspire you?
    3. Music that keeps you creative or helps you kick ass. My favorite music for creative work: Manu Delago & Stan Richardson (both instrumental and calm). For work that requires less thinking I like Broken Social Scene, Air and Radiohead.
    4. Let the light shine in. If at all possible, choose a room with a great east facing window. The bigger the better. When I’m looking for a place, this is one of my first considerations. I also make sure there aren’t too many trees hogging all the sun. Lots of natural light brings energy into your space and also makes the best lighting for videos.
    5. Keep it clean. I can’t work with disorder; it fragments my attention. Though I know some people that thrive on a messy space, I’m not one of them.
    6. Map your flow. Have you mapped out your best workflow? This will vary dramatically from writing to design to coaching, so having a map of the different types of work you do regularly is helpful. Not incredibly sexy, but essential for staying organized.
    7. Keep your reasons why where you can see them. For myself this is a list of bright, bold and audacious intentions that keep me pointed in the direction I want to go. This could also be a vision board, your personal manifesto or a simple list of your most important goals. Whatever keeps you focused on what matters, keep it where you can see it.
    8. Get a good chair. Most of us sit for 8+ hours a day. Don’t skimp on the health of the vehicle that helps you do great work (that would be your back). Invest now instead of paying a chiropractor later.
    9. Do the basic ergonomics. Yes, this stuff bores me to tears and it’s probably incredibly overcomplicated, but the basics do make a difference. If nothing else, at least make sure your line of sight is relatively in line with your monitor, and that your wrists make a straight line to your elbows.
    10. Create a space for scheming. I have a nice chaise lounge in my office where I regularly meditate, reflect and devise my epic plans. It’s a nice place to relax on calls with clients and at other times when you don’t need the computer in front of you.
    11. Get the tools you need. If you’re doing recording, invest in a good mic or headset. If you do a lot of video, have your setup always ready so you have the resources on hand that you need. Invest in the tools you need to operate like a professional.
    12. Rock the Feng Shui. You don’t need to bring in a consultant (though you certainly can), just incorporate the basic elements: fire, earth, air, and water. That means candles, plants, fresh air, and a nice (small) fountain.
    13. Notebooks. I track all of my notes, client calls and projects with good old fashioned notebooks. I like Cambridge notebooks. I have one for coaching, and for projects and planning, and I keep them within easy reach at all times. If you don’t use notebooks, what do you use to keep track of things?
    14. Vision statement. This is something I’m working on for my headquarters as a kind of self-created stamp that represents my work. It makes my space more personal because it’s a direct expression of the ethos of Illuminated Mind. It’s a work in progress, but you can see a preview here. I also have the painting my sister did for the cover of Reclaim Your Dreams on my bookshelf. Can you do something like this to make your space more meaningful?

    Every few months I take some time to look at my space see if it’s still a reflection of my vision and supports the work that I’m doing. Style and design is powerful, and it should always be functional.

    via @illuminatedmind.net  by jonathan mead

    mobile :0 944 500 1500

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