Pimp my Workspace

April 19th, 2013 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

I’m so glad I decided to take Creativity for Business Leaders as one of my final electives at Smith!  The infamous Oliver Schlake is our professor, who brings to class his outstanding PowerPoint presentations, interesting lectures, quirky creativity challenges, and even Play-Doh – among other fuzzy and bendy and bouncy and googly creativity-stimulating items.  I’ve always considered myself a moderately creative person, but I often have an extremely difficult time accessing that resource.  Professor Schlake’s class has taught me that engaging creativity actually takes work, and there are some trusted (and fun!) methods to help people tap into their dormant innovative skills.

Each week we have a “challenge” – an assignment that is designed to encourage us to think outside the box, enter foreign information territory, and spark innovative ideas.  So far we’ve designed a magazine ad for a bizarre product and found “unwanted inspiration” in a magazine we would not normally purchase.  Challenge #3 was called “Office Makeover,” and seemed like a pretty simple challenge: overhaul your workplace for more creativity.  I did not expect this challenge to totally change my life, but it did.

For the past two years (i.e. the duration of my graduate education), I have lived in a studio apartment.  There is room for a couch and a shelf, a bed and drawers.  The kitchen is tight, and we sometimes “picnic” on the floor since we don’t have a kitchen table – we fancy up the floor with candles and a plaid blanket, of course.

My workspace has been the kitchen counter – sitting on a wooden stool, with clean or dirty dishes and my to-do list on the fridge staring me down while I try to focus.  Sometimes the counter is a little dirty, which frequently leads into an intense kitchen scrub-down.  Sometimes I put my computer on a stack of board games as a makeshift standing desk; sometimes I sit on a pillow on the floor, with my computer on the couch and my notes on the floor.  Discomfort and distraction keep me from putting in long hours of work in the house, so I spend many days in coffee shops, and sometimes try to maneuver myself into a productive position in the hammock chair on my front porch.

My workspace was the worst.


But now it is awesome!  I salvaged a funky table from the back porch, added pillows to a metal chair from the front porch, and scoured my house for items that are quick creative distractions, inspiration, and healthy refreshers for a long desk shift:


It may not be the fanciest desk on the block, but wow – this workspace has really changed my world.  In the days since the challenge, I’ve spent unusually focused hours hacking away at school work, rarely getting up to put away dishes, reorganize the pantry, vacuum the house, re-write my to-do list in better handwriting…I have a very hard time managing distractions.  But now I have a window view, a comfortable seat, and these healthy-happy-creative workspace essentials:

  • Lighting – The glow of the laptop is no longer burning my eyeballs and my brain!
  • A photo and a plant – A peaceful memory from my backpackin’ days, and another living thing!
  • A view – The outside world trumps the refrigerator!
  • Comfy chair – Wooden stool?  Firewood!
  • Colors – Pens and pencils for every mood!
  • Lavender spritz – A little aromatherapy to get through the long hauls!
  • Hourglass – For one-minute procrastination vacations!
  • Wisdom + candy – Simple, thoughtful, and funny things to ponder + brain candy!
  • Alphabet die – To break through writer’s block!
  • Seaglass – Because I find the shapes and textures and the collection memories calming…

I love my new workspace!