How Your Environment Impacts Productivity

I love working at Starbucks.  It's one of my favorite places.  There's just something about having a hot drink or a lemonade and sitting in a place that is clean, neutral, and inviting.  Whether I'm writing or painting, I love to pack my purse full and work on it at Starbucks.

One would think that I'd be super distracted at Starbucks.  The baristas are taking orders, making drinks, or cleaning.  People are coming in and out, laughing, talking, ordering drinks.  However, it's just the opposite.  I'm not nearly as productive anywhere else as I am when I'm at Starbucks.  

Part of the reason for my productivity is that there isn't anything else that I need to do while I'm at Starbucks.  I don't have to talk to customers, I can ignore them.  I don't have to clean.  I don't have to make drinks.  All I have to work on is what I brought to work on.  I don't hear my kid yelling for milk or yogurt or noodles.  I don't hear my husband frustrated that said kid didn't make it to the potty again.  Nothing else tugs at my attention.  I am free to concentrate.

Being free from other responsibilities is a big factor, don't get me wrong, but it's not the whole reason for my productivity.  The other half of that equation is simply the environment.

Our environment plays a big role on how productive we are.

A cluttered desk, for example, perpetuates a cluttered mind.  A clean desk allows your mind to be free and concentrate on the task at hand instead of being distracted by that bill you have to pay and the note to call your grandma.  When I go to Starbucks, the environment eliminates my distractions and gives me complete freedom to be productive.

With a little work and attention to detail, this heightened level of productivity can be achieved at home or in your office.  

First, look at what absolutely needs to be on your workspace.  Try to pare it down to the bare minimum and organize what you do keep on your workspace.  Of course, this will probably change as what you need to be working on changes.  Make it a habit to put away whatever is unnecessary for you to accomplish what needs to be done.

Clearing off your workspace of any excess will require you to be organized in other areas.  If you frequently switch between working on the computer and making artwork on the same workspace, have a place for everything that you are not currently using.  If you're painting, but want your laptop open for music, have a specific spot that you put your laptop every time it's only purpose is to provide you with music.  

Make the space functional.

The more functional the space is, the higher your level of productivity.  If your computer cords are always in the way, take some time to come up with a solution.  If your most used supplies are in hard-to-get-to places, reorganize and rearrange things.  This is your space, make it work for you!

Make your workspace inspirational.

Making your workspace inspirational is just as important as making it functional.  When you sit down to work, you not only want everything to be working for you, but you also want to feel that motivation and inspiration wash over you.  Take a few minutes to gather things that you totally love and surround your workspace with them.  Use your favorite mug to hold pens.  Tape inspirational quotes or beautiful photos to your wall.  

Being inspired is a fantastic way to increase productivity.

Making these seemingly little changes, will make a huge impact on what you can (and want to!) accomplish.  While your workspace might not be necessarily working against you right now, you can certainly make it work for you!

But sometimes, reality sets in.  Sometimes it's a choice between working on your studio space or getting actual work done.  Different times will call for a different decision on this.  I have been working on making my workspace functional and inspirational for what seems like a decade and it hasn't gotten there.  I'm not going to bore you with the details of why it's not there yet, but I have found a solution.  I go to Starbucks instead of feeling unmotivated and frustrated with my studio.

If your studio or workspace can't be whipped into shape fast enough, find an alternative location to work and go there as often as possible.  The point is to let your environment do some of the heavy lifting.  Let it make it easier, more fun, and more exciting.  Then, you'll really be productive!

I'd love know: Is your studio or workspace the place to be?  What have you done to make it so?  Do you escape to do your best work?  Where do you go?