Thursday, July 23, 2009

Creativity and organization in the workplace: work space

In my view, every work place is made up of three basic elements:

  1. Work space: consisting of surfaces, fixtures, furniture and walls
  2. Storage space: consisting of flexible elements that hold all the necessary tools needed to do the work, from paper to zip drive
  3. Stimulating space: consisting of non-functional items that foster creativity and inspiration, such as art on the walls or one’s favorite coffee mug

Whether the workplace is meant for a creative writer or a CPA, the elements are the same. Each element will be different depending on the person who works in that space. They must be designed to flow together and work for the occupant of the space in order for the occupant to get the most value out of the space in terms of productivity, quality of work and efficiency.

This work area needs an overhaul in all three areas!

When it comes to organizing a work space, the actual work space/empty space part is probably the most overlooked of the three areas, since organizing and storing tools are the usually the primary focus, and decorating is usually considered the fun part. But the bones of the space allow you to create the best storage solutions, so they must be addressed first. If your desk is the size of a postage stamp or your chair is so uncomfortable you get neck pain after ten minutes at your computer, then how can you be expected to produce your best work?

Look around your space right now. Do you have open, clear space on which to spread out and use your hands to make something new? Is your computer hardware arranged in a way that makes sense for your body, eyes and ears? Do you have a distracting window view or a depressing water-stained wall to look at? Do you have adequate lighting or does its harshness give you a headache? Become aware of the tangible aspects of your work place from floor to ceiling, disregarding for a moment the actual stuff in the space. Think about what's working and what isn't, and how you can make changes to the physical layout that will provide more comfort, storage space and support for your work style.

I'll continue writing about these three elements of the workplace and apply them to specific forms of creative work in the next few posts, so stay tuned.

Creative Commons photo posted to Flickr by aliwest44

Lelah Baker-Rabe is a Los Angeles-based professional organizer. To discuss your organizing needs, call her at 818.269.6671 or email

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