Ready to move off of the kitchen table our couch and set up your official “creative workspace”? Having your very own space to think, make, and do can create a big shift in how you prioritize your creative work. It can be an out-of-home shared workspace, a home office or even a dedicated desk in your living room/den/bedroom. Wherever you decide to set-up shop, try to keep this space sacred. It’s a space reserved just for you and a space dedicated to working on your creative pursuits only (read: not a space for catching up on email and Facebook, unless they’re part of your creative project of course!).

Oprah says that your home should rise up to meet you and this space is not excluded. So if you’ve got the funds and the desire to really kit out this space (link to article on best work spaces), good on you! Send me a picture!

If you don’t have both the funds and/or the desire to pour over design blogs and spend your Saturdays shopping for the perfect lamp, do not worry. All you need to create an inspirational, get-shit-done, creative haven is:

  1. Great Light

  2. You’ll need great light. If possible this includes a window. When I’m at my desk typing away and I’m in a puddle of sunshine, I feel like the sun is actually charging me up like a battery. Sunlight is said to have a bunch of physical benefits too, but for me I just think it’s more inviting and comfortable to be working in natural light.

    A window isn’t the be all and end all though. You’ll need great options for layered lighting for all the times you don’t have natural light – think: early mornings, evenings, burning-the-midnight-oil all nighters, cloudy days, etc. For this, depending on your space, I’d recommend a desk lamp, a standing lamp and some sort of over-head effusive lighting. Give yourself options for soft & romantic, bright and alert, and everywhere in between to ensure the lighting matches your intention and the urgency of your project.

  3. A Clear Surface

  4. If you were looking at my desk right now, strewn with post-its and oracle cards, coffee cups and a few bottles of nail polish, you’d laugh. But I know that this clutter is distracting and is diminishing my creative potential. (I just can’t muster up the motivation to clean it up right now…).

    A messy and cluttered workspace is like a messy and cluttered brain. It’s distracting, it sets your nervous system on edge, and sends you a back-of-the-brain reminder of all the other things you “should” be doing right now instead. Make it your policy to have nothing on your surface except for a few key things: laptop, pen & paper (or journal), maybe a vase of flowers or picture of a loved one, maybe an organization or storage solution. But that’s it.

    In order to make this a reality, you’ll likely have to do at least one of the following:

    • Have a great storage solution for all of your non-essentials – drawers, cupboards, file folders, whatever. But ensure that there is a place for everything and everything in its place.
    • Have less stuff – you may be surprised to know that you do not need any more pens, paperclips, sticky notes, paper weights, etc. So either purge the stuff that’s cluttering your space or stop buying anything new.
    • Clean up at the end of every session. Clear off the surface. Throw stuff away, put stuff back in it’s place.

  5. A Whiteboard

  6. My whiteboard is my favorite thing in my home office. I love it because it’s big, non-permanent and visual. I can scratch down anything & everything, relate words to pictures, map things, star things, underline things. I mostly use mine to:

    • Brainstorm & ideate – get things out of my head
    • To Do List – big and in my face, all the things I need to get accomplished on my creative project. The satisfaction of crossing off, checking off, and/or erasing (actually sometimes all three!) is second to nothing.
    • Store my most-used, information – passwords and account names for the wifi, my Instagram, Pinterest, and GoPro accounts. The sizing for my website hero photos, the combination for my gym locker… I can see it all from where I’m sitting and it means I don’t have to check my email or open another file to access the info (which will inevitably lead to 15 minutes on Instagram or PerezHilton.com)

  7. Calendar

  8. This can be a desk calendar, a date book, a wall calendar, a dry-erase calendar, whatever you want, but get a calendar. With every creative project – setting goals and milestones and deadlines is the best way to succeed. I have one calendar that I use as a chain – remember that Jerry Seinfeld sketch where he doesn’t want to break the chain? Well I do that… kind of. This 365 day calendar is used to challenge myself to work on my project everyday. It’s a great visual representation of the work I’m doing (and not doing). I also have a 2-month calendar where I track my deadlines and campaigns so that I know what needs to be done by when.

  9. Pens & Sheets of paper

  10. Finally, having pens and paper readily available to jot down ideas, sketch out concepts, doodle, make lists, etc. is handy. Now this could be replaced by a journal or a word doc if that is what works for you, but for me, writing something in a journal feels very permanent, very official, like something I might look back on in few months and shake my head at or even worse… something I might then be expected to action. For me, the freedom and flexibility of just jotting notes down on loose paper is important for my creative process. Just don’t leave them lying around your clean, clear creative surface! Pin them up, keep them in a folder, or throw them out…

Try to never let “not having a space to work” keep you from advancing a passion project or tapping into your creativity. Start with a table or desk, and then get serious with these essentials. Consider everything else a bonus and less important than actually doing your creative work. Once you’re set-up and producing, turn your focus to decorating, colour-coding, gallery and wall-building.