A productive, inspiring workspace

4 Tips for Designing a Workspace That Keeps You Productive and Inspired

For almost everyone, there comes a time when you’re faced with an empty or boring workspace that you need to make your own. You could make the mistake I did early in my career and plunge in, focusing solely on aesthetics. (In my case, let’s just say people became very aware of my love of Star Wars.) A better option? Design the space for comfort and productivity as well as inspiration and style.

Your design choices will play a big part in how well you can keep motivated, on task, and free from stress. Do you have plants in or around your workspace? What color light does your lamp emit? The answers to these questions will impact not only how cool your space looks but also how effective you are at your job.

So, without further ado, here are four tips for designing a workspace that keeps you both inspired and productive!

1. Eliminate clutter.

Surrounded by a fortress of paper, books, old swag, or delicately posed action figures engaged in light-saber battles? (Okay, that last one may just be me.) Despite how comfortable you might feel, that clutter isn’t serving you well.

One of the easiest ways to optimize your workspace is simply to get rid of all the useless junk. Not only will the space feel more open and inviting, but there is evidence that decreasing clutter could also increase efficiency: A Princeton study suggests that being surrounded by clutter inhibits your ability to focus on a task. So, to start clearing your mind, start clearing your desk! Easy.

(Need more incentive? Get a crash course on the creative benefits of keeping things pared down in this blog post.)

2. Ensure that your workspace is comfortable.

While working in a Darth Vader helmet may sound awesome to a few of us, in practice it might be…less than comfortable. Working in discomfort isn’t just a literal pain, it’s also costly to your concentration and memory. And when it comes to productivity on the job, comfort is not something to compromise on.

Before you dive into decorating, take a moment to think about how you feel at your desk. The items that cause discomfort will likely be less obvious than a Darth Vader helmet. An ill-tuned chair may give you lower back problems. A monitor at the incorrect height may give you a stiff neck. Peripherals such as laptop stands, lumbar support pillows, foot rests, or ergonomic keyboards are essential to keep you at the top of your game. Since their inclusion can have overall design implications, it’s best to decide what you’ll need early in the process.

3. Take ownership of your workspace.

Now to the fun stuff. Start framing your signed Return of the Jedi poster—or, you know, whatever artwork brings you joy. If you can, break out the paintbrushes and wallpaper! In a way, there are no wrong answers here. Taking control of your space in any capacity gives you a sense of ownership that can lead to increased productivity. But if we’re aiming for the best environment for inspiration and maximum productivity, here are a couple of things you’ll definitely want to do.

First, think green. Did you know that plants help boost mood, concentration, and efficiency? Well, they do. A lot. In fact, just looking at images of nature can help you de-stress at work. So even if you can’t put plants around your desk, try to face a window in which you can see greenery or set your desktop wallpaper to a scene filled with natural green. This can help put your mind at ease.

If at all possible, you’ll also want to control the amount and color of light that your workspace receives. (This is made easier these days with LED strips or color-changing smart bulbs.) Bright environments have been shown to be great for analytical thinking, while dimming the lights can help to generate more creative ideas. Green and blue light have been shown to assist in generating ideas as well. Red light, on the other hand, can enhance your performance while you’re engaged in tasks that require more attention to detail—like editing or shading a drawing of a Sarlaac.

Last, but certainly not least, let your HGTV (or Star Wars) flag fly and make the space your own!

4. Switch it up.

The sad truth about the human mind is that no matter how awesome your workspace looks and feels, eventually you’ll get used to it. The special items that used to bring you so much joy will blend into the background until you hardly notice them at all. (Sorry, Funko Pop BB-8 figurine.) Luckily, there’s a solution! Just switch it up. Rearranging furniture, changing desktop wallpapers, or swapping the pillows on your chair can all have powerful effects on revitalizing your relationship to your workspace. Remember the benefits of taking ownership of your space? It works even if you’re not adding anything new.

So, the next time you’re faced with a blank wall or uninspiring space, use these four tips to help you imagine an inspirational, stylish workspace that allows you to perform your best. If you’re raring to set off and design your own perfect workspace, go you! If you need a little more inspiration, look no further than the collection of awesome workspaces I’ve put together below. (Don’t worry, they’re all free from excessive Star Wars paraphernalia.) Happy designing—and may the Force be with you!