Somewhere in the world of work an incorrect connection has been made between the ability to work hard and sober surroundings. The last ten years have seen this idea challenged, but in the preceding decades there was certainly an attitude that dour, grey office spaces made for hard workers. Whether we’re talking about the typing pools of the fifties and sixties, or the infamous office cubicle structure of the nineties, business owners have historically used an almost classroom-like structure in an effort to drive the most effort out of their employees.
In my own experience, nothing stifles creativity more than bland surroundings. Being cooped up in a grey office is simply depressing, whether it’s a dedicated office space in your home, or a place of work in the centre of a city. It’s difficult to come up with world-changing ideas when you’re surrounded by 500 separate hues of blue and grey. Here are some changes you can make to your work space that’ll get your creative juices flowing.
- Let There Be Light
In old the Hanna-Barbera cartoons, any time a character had a great idea, a lightbulb would appear above their head. I think that this is strangely related to how the human brain thinks creatively. Research has shown that soft lighting can help stimulate creative thinking, so now might be a good time to move away from the sterile strip lighting that plagues many offices.
Natural light, where possible is also a great way of feeling connected to the outside world, so keep those curtains open where you can, or try investing in some daylight lamps for your workspace. And get those fluorescent bulbs in the bin!
- Colour Your Thoughts
Within the scientific community, it is generally accepted that different colours can make us feel different things. This has been put into practice in a number of ways, be it yellow and black chevrons being used to represent caution, red and orange being used to colour medicines used as stimulants, or green to signify openness and freedom to move forward.
Try introducing colour into your workspace to encourage creative thoughts. You don’t have to paint a rainbow across the wall. Your ideas can be fairly small-scale, whether is simply putting colourful pictures on your desk, or working with different coloured stationary. Give different colours a try to see what gets the juices flowing!
- The Sound Of Music
I’ll admit that this next point depends on the individual. Some people prefer to work away in library levels of silent solitude. I personally find total silence a little off-putting. You might find that your mind will work differently depending not only on what type of music you listen to, but how you listen to it; whether it’s a radio on in another room, or blaring tunes through a set of headphones.
You can use different genres, depending on how you are working. If you’re working to a deadline something with a steady tempo and focused can help to maintain a train of thought. I find that minimalist electro like Kraftwerk can help with this. If you’re at the start of a project, something more playful can help your mind to wander. I’m ashamed to say that ABBA never fails in this category.
- Are you sitting comfortably?
Finally, how you physically sit within your workspace can have a profound effect on the way you work and the way you think. Back pain from working from an office chair affects many of us, and quite often, generic office chairs aren’t great for posture. The last thing you need to be worrying about is a sore back, when you’re trying to think creatively. There are a number of purpose designed chairs that take the pain out of sitting at a desk, so be sure to invest in something that works for you.
On a more personal note, I sometimes find that sitting at a desk for hours and hours on end can be a little stifling. If you can, try investing in a new sofa to give you a place to move to if you feel like you need a break from the desk. Some of my best ideas have come to me, lying flat on my back and looking at the ceiling!
The above ideas won’t necessarily apply to everyone, as we all think differently. But if you find that you’re struggling to get your brain into gear, try experimenting with one or two of the aforementioned ideas, and find something that works for you!