Lately, at Ocean Reeve Publishing, we've been completing workflow training to enhance the awesome creation of books, dreams, and legacies. Believe it or not, your workspace is a massive part of that. I don't know about you, but when I hear 'workflow training', I just think of looking at tightening up timelines, productivity, efficiency, calendars, etc. I never thought that the first thing we'd do was look at our workspace and then look at personalising it! Yet, there we were, being given the task of vamping up our workspace to make it more visually appealing to us. Step one of improving your workflow is to create a workplace environment you're happy to be in, which then enhances your creativity, motivation, efficiency, and workflow.
Desk size and style, colours, items around it, lights, plants ... so much impacts your workflow. Make it suit you.
More on what workflow environment is and thinking of your workspace
To elaborate, for a moment, think of your workspace (at home or at work). Is it visually inspiring to you? Do you feel happy and comfortable working there? Does it raise your creativity?
Yes? No? If not, why not?
Thinking about my workspace at work before we began, I thought it was fine. Simple and clean. Stand-up-sit-down gizmo on my desk for when I get restless and want to stand up, a card from an author to make me smile, a printer, double-screens for efficient work, and a few little quirky things like an anime keyring and a Japanese print to make it more 'me'.
Apparently, that wasn't enough.
How do you know if it's enough?
When someone can look at your workstation and identify whether that's 'you' or not, apparently! When you look at your space and smile, or when you're working and feel like you're happy and belong there.
And it's not just thinking about your desk, either. It's the floor space around it, the wall space around it, your whole working space. Do you have clutter on the floor with bags, shoes, bins, filing cabinets? Do you have clutter and paperwork all over your desk?
Now think about what makes you happy or inspired. What colour themes do you like? What would you identify as 'you'? Use that to help you build your space.
This is a cool little workspace setup! Would yours look like this? Simple, practical, elegant.
What can you use to enhance your working environment?
If I think of a few things the team looked at to enhance their workspace and environment, I'd list these as starters to get you going on what you could look at:
Plants (real or fake, preferably real!). You can get those that match you, are easy to look after. They can be completely tailored and chosen to suit you! I have two Hedera ivy (common English ivy), because they're totally fantasy looking! And another one I can't remember the name of, but it has two colours so looks really cool and matches the colouring in the Japanese print on the other side of my computer.
Frames of photos/prints/artwork. They don't need to be huge. Mine's just an A5 print, and that's good enough to look at and smile. Choose something that makes your eyes feel at ease or pleased/inspired to look at. It gives you a break from the glare of the computer.
A tray for your paperwork. While most offices are going paper-free for their day-to-day runnings, a tray is still useful for the misc. paper items that inevitably end up strewn across your desk. I'll admit it's a weakness of mine, and I'm not afraid to admit Ocean was very suggestive of me getting a paper tray ...
Personal items that cheer you up. E.g. photos, special greeting cards, little misc. items you collected from a trip abroad (I have a little shrine fortune token from a time I visited a Japanese shrine on New Year).
Inspiring quotes. I designed a couple of my favourite quotes (two from anime, of course!) onto postcards in Canva and now have them on my desk to fire me up.
Lightbox. One of our team has a lightbox on her desk that she writes little messages on in the changeable letters. It's really cool and definitely suits the look she's got on her desk!
Boards. Pinboards, whiteboards ... whatever you like and suits your space and fits your purpose to personalise your workspace and make it usable for you.
Headphones even. Need sound-blocking headphones for deep work? This counts!
Water bottles and cups, and things to help you work effectively. It's important to drink a lot each day, so keep a reusable water bottle on your desk to easily fill up with water each day so you don't have to keep getting up for smaller cups of it.
Desktop background. Yes, even the background of your computer should have something inspiring or that you love on it. Mine is a piece of artwork a super awesome artist friend of mine drew for me. What do you love that you can put on your desktop?
And so many more other things that I've blanked to even think about them! (Maybe comment with some ideas of your own and we can add them in!)
Of course, you don't want to crowd it up and make it look even more of a mess with stuff everywhere! You can do this and still make it look smart, clean, effective, professional.
One of the ORP team has a super minimalist look on theirs and it looks effective and 'them' without it being boring. It all depends on what is you and what suits you.
If you're an author, do you like to have your favourite books easily on hand to grab and inspire you?
Concluding why personalising your workspace is important for workflow
The point is to just have hints of you at work to create an extension of your home that means you'll be comfortable to come into work, fit into your space, and do your best knowing you've got the best environment for you around you. If you're happy in your space, you'll be way more empowered in your work, too.
Writing this, I'm now looking at my workspace at home, where I type all my author stuff and write and plan my books. It's certainly 'me'. I chose this desk because I liked it, I have an A5 Japanese art print (different to the one at work), an additional screen to connect to my laptop and extend the working space so I can have my book and research up at the same time (or be naughty and have an anime episode up on one and emails on the other, or something), but other than that I have books, paper, memo notes to the dozen, pens, a fan, a pair of gloves, and other random stuff strewn all over it (enough to make Ocean cry and tell me to buy another tray!).
Perhaps I need to apply what we learned at work to my author space, too!
If it helps me get more writing done, inspires me more, and gives me more room for creativity, then I think it's worth it.
Does your workspace show 'you'? What do you think you can do today to make it a little more inspiring and comfortable for you to be in?
It doesn't need to be a lot or be expensive, and you can just tweak a few things here and there if you want to make it suit your needs. As long as you feel comfortable and like it hints at who you are and that you can take a few minutes from a busy day to look at your space and think 'yeah, this inspires me,' then it's creating a great addition to your workflow!
I wonder what we'll be learning in workflow training next ...