A clean and tidy work environment boosts productivity and morale, so keeping on top of the mess in your office should be a priority.
Without your knowing it, your desk is peppered with potential hazards just waiting to compromise your creativity. Here are the six areas to be on the lookout for when transforming your work space into an idea den.
1: Shed some light
When you want bright ideas, dim the light on your brainstorming space. While natural sunlight can improve your mood, a darker space can help free you from your inhibitions.2 Think of it sort of like romantic mood lighting. After all, a German study showed that dim lighting triggers “a risky, explorative processing style.”
2: Make a mess
While a clean, organized desk may make it appear as though you’ve got adulting down to a science, actual science shows a bit more mess can lead to a lot more creativity. This might be surprising to learn, especially since it seems clearing clutter would allow for more brain space—vacancies where ideas can pop up. However, researchers have found that clearing the desk creates an atmosphere of conformity, which leads to strictly in-the-box thinking. Tidy-deskers do score high in charitable giving, healthy eating, and not littering, but when those do-gooders need good ideas, they’ll need to make their way to the dark . . . er, messy side.
3: Bring the noise
Some of us need quiet in order to tackle our to-do lists, but for others, such silence can be deafening. Instead of concentration, isolation and lack of distraction can produce a bit of stir-craziness. This is why many solo thinkers camp out in coffee shops to get work done. The sounds of other people clicking away on keyboards and holding hushed conversations while mugs of brewed beans are poured and steamed creates just enough background noise to pump up your productivity. A study found adding a bit of ambient sound—70 decibels, to be precise—can boost your creativity. To create the coffee shop scene right at your desk, loop ambient noise into your office with the help of apps and online music stations.
4: Get back to nature
Walking outside in the fresh air and sunshine, surrounded by endless shades of green, can feel like walking into a rainforest of ideas. But even if you’re confined to your desk, you can still welcome Mother Nature’s brainstorming bounty by surrounding your space with plants and flowers. In addition to increased productivity, research shows that work space foliage leads to improved innovation and creative problem solving.
5: Pick a new perk
Coffee, in all its caffeinated glory, is quite often the fuel that powers the workday. It makes sense, as java not only jump-starts your brain but also fights fatigue, quickens your reaction time, improves your decision-making abilities, and ups your overall energy level. But before you pour that second mug, know that your cup o’ Joe comes with a downside: caffeine can be a creativity killer. That’s because caffeine stimulates your brain to be laser focused rather than open and malleable. Ask any SEO agency Boss. So when you’re in need of ideas, back off on the beans before the brainstorming begins.
6: Power down
Just about every parenting magazine recommends limiting kids’ screen time in the name of health. But what about us grown-ups? A 2016 Nielsen report revealed that adults spend nearly 11 hours per day glued to screens of some sort.8 While a big portion of that time—possibly 40 or more hours a week—is work related, we still spend a wealth of waking hours consuming digital media. Sure, being informed can help to inspire ideas, but the negative effects might outweigh the benefits. Maybe the most devastating negative effect? Loss of sleep.9 Screens can worsen your Z’s or cause you to lack sleep altogether. When you don’t get enough sleep, various areas of your life and health suffer, and creative insight is one of them.10 As you set the stage for brainstorming, don’t forget to factor in bedtime. Cut the cord on screens once in a while, and get the rest you need in order to generate ideas during the day.