Raise your coffee cup if your workspace looks like this:
A wilting houseplant you’ve forgotten.
Expense reports covered in coffee rings and some crumbs from your afternoon granola bar.
An inspiring view of a wall or maybe a free calendar you got from the bank.
If that sounds familiar, don’t worry. You’re not alone (we’ve all been there), and it’s totally, 100% possible to transform your workspace into a place that inspires and motivates you. Wouldn’t you work better if you were surrounded by images of the people and things you love—images that reminded you why you’re doing this work? If your space was lit by a gorgeous lamp? And you were sitting in a comfortable chair?
When we surround ourselves by objects that support our physical and mental comfort, we’re more creative and more motivated. We work harder and smarter, bringing in more business and getting more done. This is pretty impressive considering that we’re just talking about lamps and framed photos, right?
If you’re ready for a workspace that’s more motivation than “meh,” here are seven tips to get you started.
1. Pay Attention to Your Physical Needs
When we’re busy with high-level, moneymaking ideas, it’s incredibly easy to forget our physical needs—until it’s too late and we’re visiting the chiropractor three times a month.
Ask yourself: Does your chair support your back? Is the light from that window creating a glare on your computer screen? Do you need a space heater? Maslow was right—you need to care for your physical needs before you can accomplish amazing, cerebral things. Consider what you need to change for your most comfortable workspace possible. Along similar lines…
2. Manage Your (Literal) Atmosphere
Is the air conditioning turned up too high? If it’s within your power, turn it down—or bring a sweater. If you live in a particularly dry climate, buy yourself a humidifier (bonus: it’s great for your skin, and it’ll help you stave off colds.) If you’re sick of working in recycled office-building air, try to crack a window, buy an air purifier, or add a few air-cleaning plants to your desk. (These plants are particularly good.)
3. Add Less “Harsh” Lighting
Most office buildings use fluorescent lights, but they’ve been linked to migraines, eyestrain, and even depression. Not exactly productive, right?
Even if you can’t get your company to change all the lights in the building, get creative about finding different lighting. Could you work next to a window? Could you put an incandescent lamp on your desk? Could you occasionally work in a different room (or at home or in a coffee shop) so you can get a good dose of vitamin D? It’ll make more of a difference than you might think.
4. Keep Your Space Edited and Clean
It’s hard to do great work in a space that’s filled with dirty coffee cups, old receipts, and unpaid invoices. But creating a foundational organizational systems that works with your workflow can go a long way in helping you stay organized, focused, and way less stressed.
If your desk is overflowing, schedule a couple of hours to de-clutter, file, and release anything you don't need. Clear off your electronic desktop, too. (Here’s how.) Make it a practice to end every Friday with a clean, organized space. You’ll be able to leap into your weekend worry-free!
5. Make Your Workspace Beautiful
Of course, a life and heart-supporting workspace isn’t just about having an ergonomic chair and enough storage for your Post-its. Your workspace should feel luxurious—you should look forward to being there! If you don’t, how can you expect to be inspired?
Add a few things that make you feel good and happy when you sit down—try a vase of cut flowers, some pretty potted plants, or a scented candle (peppermint is energizing and lavender is relaxing).
6. Make it Meaningful
Find a place to display the “why” of your work in a tangible and honest way. Why are you doing this work? If you’re working to empower women, display thank-you notes from clients you’ve helped. If you’re raising money for a nonprofit, hang up a photo of the people you’re helping. Staying in touch with your “why” will help keep you going on cloudy, doubting days. Even if you are in a transitional job that’s just paying the bills until you find something else, this can make a huge difference in your motivation day to day.
7. Change it Up
Change is good for the soul (and, frankly, your bottom line) and keeps your energy fresh and interested. Consider changing your desk around every season or at the start of a new project. Change the position of your desk in your office, move your computer, swap out the images you have on your office walls, or even paint a wall a different color (if you work from home). If you can find a co-worker who’s game, you can even swap cubicle or offices.
Shockingly easy, right? You’re just an office chair and a few plants away from a workspace you really, actually love.
Photo of workspace courtesy of Shutterstock.