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.
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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 Paid To Exist. 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.
If you haven’t done this yet, I recommend taking out a full day to get your space groovin’.
So I’m curious: what kind of workspace helps you stay creative, productive and inspired?