How to Hack Your Creative Workspace

This is a guest post by Allie Smith-Hobbs. 

It’s the middle of summer. How’s your productivity? 

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There are nights where I’ve been up in the wee hours ruminating about projects. And although our work endeavors can sometimes be frustrating, they can also be the reason we joyously jump out of bed in the morning and rush to the computer with excitement. Work thoughts often fill our minds, but have you given much thought to where you do your work?

The where of your work matters. 

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Your workspace can dramatically affect your entire work experience including both your creativity and your productivity.

Whether you’re a small business owner or a tenured professor, your clarity and quality of work will reflect your inner state. It’s very difficult to write clearly or work productively with muddled goals and fuzzy thoughts. While the much bigger topics of core alignment, inner clarity and mental schemas are definitely at play when it comes to our creativity and productivity, there are a few simple steps you take right now to hack your workspace.

So grab a cup of tea, spend a few minutes answering these questions and make a few tweaks to dramatically improve not only your creativity and productivity, but also your overall quality of life.

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Location. Location. Location.
This is where the magic happens. Your workspace is your personal real estate. 

Where do you find your groove? Is it in a high energy environment like the corner of a bustling coffee shop? Or perhaps a quiet space in your home office with a cat on your lap and a latte on the desk?

Your workspace may include the office, a local coffee shop or even a laptop while lounging by the pool.

If you have the option of working wherever you want, pay attention to which locations give you inspiration and which give you even more distractions. Depending on your vocation, you may or may not have much latitude when it comes to where you plug in your computer. If you’re required to work in your onsite office, you still have choices that can improve your productivity. How about giving yourself the gift of two hours of uninterrupted time behind locked doors with all distractions (including phone and internet notifications) turned off? What could you accomplish without the constant distraction and drain of colleagues popping by every few minutes?

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And speaking of distractions…is clutter overwhelming your desk? Is there a stack of paperwork that needs to be filed?

Our moods contribute to our productivity (or procrastination).

What type of mood does your workspace invoke? Does it make you feel tanked of energy – even if you’ve only been there a few minutes? Or is it filled with things that inspire you?

If you experience a particular emotion every time your eye lands on something, it’s in your best interest to make sure it’s a positive emotion. File those papers, pay those bills, clear off the table – you’ll find it easier to get things done.

Music and Silence
Music is powerful and silence is golden. Are you a fan of music or do you need silence during your business hours? Does putting on the headphones put you in a focused state? Personally, I love music but during intense writing sessions, I find most music a distraction (particularly if it has lyrics). The Spotify channel “Deep Focus” is an exception, as its tracks are selected to improve a flow mindset.

I crank the tunes when in an editing phase or when doing creative multi-tasking, which is a different mindset than getting ideas down in a rough draft, documenting in a spreadsheet or anytime I need to get into the nitty gritty details of a project. It’s your preference when it comes to your auditory input, what’s the difference between focus and distraction?

Routine and Variability
Do you thrive on the discipline of a routine to get tasks done at the same time and/or day or do you prefer variability to keep you interested and your ideas fresh? You may prefer a different environment when churning out rough drafts, mind maps and brainstorms versus the refining and editing phases.

Do you prefer being in solitude or do your ideas flow from collaboration and interaction? From scheduling to location, what routines work best for you?

You define your creative workspace. A customized workspace that fits your personality and work habits will contribute to a peaceful, energetic and organized mind. 

Let’s hear from you – are you a solo writer, researcher or entrepreneur or do you need to chat and collaborate in the hallways to ignite your creativity? Do you lock yourself in your office for a late night or do you get up early with a cup of coffee and do your best work at the kitchen table before 8 am? What changes can you make – right now – to make your workspace a place you want to be?

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