“Then beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depend on simplicity...”—Plato
You may find certain questions running through your head when moving in to a particular workspace for the first time: Is the space quiet enough? Does it contain everything I need? Does it inspire me to take my work to new levels or does it bore me to tears? The task can be daunting, but you can learn a thing or two about office organization from the creative pros who have come before you.
Depending on the type of work you do, you could spend anywhere from a few hours to most of your day working in one area, so it should be as conducive to creativity as possible. But how do you create a workspace that brings out the best in you?
Keep it simple, but not boring
By taking Plato's advice, for starters. He may seem like an unlikely source of inspiration for the modern professional, but the classical Greek philosopher was on to something with his line about simplicity, written in The Republic. Creative space, be it within the confines of a cubicle or the four walls of a home office, has to be relatively simple. It should certainly contain the items essential for you to perform your work - a computer, a printer, reference books, even your lucky bobble-head – but shouldn’t be overly-cluttered. We practice these methods in our office while working on 4ormat.
Make it your home
That said, minimalism can be taken too far. If one lesson can be gleaned from the offices of some of the most intelligent, creative people in the world, it's that if you want to get the most out of yourself, your workspace should feel like your home. Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple and a man recognized as one of the most innovative on the planet, could have a super-modern office space filled with futuristic gadgets – but he doesn't. His home office is warm and inviting. The world's most famous theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein, certainly kept a homey, if extremely untidy, office, and one of the most prolific writers in modern history, Stephen King, keeps both a couch and a television in his business office. The point? If your space is comfortable you'll be able to maximize your creativity and put clients at ease.
Know what your space says about you
Whether it’s your boss or your clients, at some point you’ll have visitors to your workspace, which means that you should be concerned about what message that space sends to others. Are the clients you meet influenced by how you keep your office? Is your boss? A recent study of human resources managers found that more than 80 per cent of respondents were at least somewhat affected by the appearance of an employee's workspace. The lesson: the perception of professionalism can be just as important as the trait itself, and while having items scattered across your desk may not mean you're scatterbrained, visitors may subconsciously think so.
Shake things up
Even if you have a great home office, studio or traditional workspace, it doesn't hurt to change things up now and again. Take a page from the book by artists such as Monet and van Gogh, who painted “en plein air”, and head outside now and again. A change of scenery can be a great way to get out of a rut, and if you work in a northern climate, getting out-of-doors during the winter work day is also a good way to ensure you don’t feel the effects of seasonal affective disorder, which include anxiety, irritability and difficulty concentrating - none of which are particularly desired by the creative professional.
Remember that it's about you
Plato’s advice may make a great deal of sense, but you have the final say as to what sort of space you choose to work in. Your workspace, be it the home office, the park bench office, or the office office, needs to serve your needs. You need to be able to be free-thinking, focused and productive in it. Keeping things simple, decluttering and taking a few trips outside are great pieces of advice, but at the end of the day your workspace simply needs to allow you to do what you do best. Whether that space is modern, minimal, playful, messy or in your basement is up to you. Remember: it's not where you work, it's what you do while you're there.