5 Tips for Creating an Inspiring Workspace
This is my first week in my new office space in downtown Concord, New Hampshire. As you may know, on January 2 we welcomed Traver Maxwell to the world. Eric and I turned the home office into a nursery, and moved all my office furniture and equipment into Eric’s game room.
Now, Eric is no ordinary boardgamer — he’s the owner and editor of BoardgameNews.com, and the proud owner of more than 1,000 boardgames. New review copies of games arrive every week. In other words, the game room is crowded — and I can’t work in a disorganized space. On top of that, I have trouble working when there are things in the house that need to be done, like laundry and vacuuming. So when my Pilates instructor mentioned that she was not renewing the lease on her beautiful space, I snapped it up.
My interior designer friend Shawna helped me do the initial decorating — we went for a Zen look — and my writing buddy Elaine Grant (who teaches our Magazine Writing Basics class, which starts in next week) helped me move in. And voila! I have a relaxing, clean place to work.
Since I’ve been doing a lot of reading and thinking about how to create an inspiring work space, I’ve gleaned a lot of tips that other freelancers can use. Here they are:
1. Get Inspired
One thing I can do now that there’s no one else in my office to disturb is listen to motivational podcasts when my energy lags. I like the podcasts by personal development experts Steve Pavlina and The Morning Coach (thanks, Elaine!). If you don’t have your own space, you can download the podcasts to your iPod and listen to them using headphones.
2. Go Green
I think plants are very important for fostering a calm yet creative atmosphere. My old office didn’t have any plants, and I missed having them. I now have a money tree and a lucky bamboo — how’s that for perfect plants for writers? — and I plan to get even more. I bought these plants already potted at Home Depot.
3. Stock Your Shelves
Besides the usual writing books (like The Renegade Writer!), I have motivational books on business and productivity like Brian Tracy’s Eat That Frog, Take Yourself to the Top by Laura Berman Fortgang, and Work Less, Make More by Jennifer White. These are books I can pull out and skim when I need a little boost.
4. Sound On
Music can set the stage for a productive day of writing. Some writers like energizing music with a good beat, some prefer classical, and some like nature tracks like the sound of ocean waves. Me, I go for world beats like Thievery Corporation and Gotan Project, and albums like Buddha Bar, The Rough Guide to Indian Music, and Sahara Lounge. I brought an old CD player to my new office and have these CDs playing all the time. If you can’t play music in your space, can you listen to it on headphones when the mood strikes?
5. Keep It Neat
As the co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Cleaning, I love to clean — which is lucky for me, because nothing is more distracting than a messy office. It also hurts your productivity, since you waste time digging through stacks of junk to find that contract or magazine you need. If your office is overwhelmed by clutter, spend just 15 minutes per day clearing it out. On Day 1, you can clean one shelf of your bookcase; on Day 2, you can clean out a drawer of the filing cabinet; and so on.
Another tip: The “broken window” theory says that when a neighborhood has a house with a broken window that the owners neglect to fix, it starts to attract vandalism and other crime: people assume no one cares, so they treat it that way. The same can be said for your home: Ever notice that when you toss a magazine onto the chair in an otherwise clean room, suddenly that chair starts to attract all kinds of junk? Nip it in the bud by doing a quick neatening of your workspace every day before you leave work.
What do you love about your workspace? Post your comments below! [lf]