The Environment of the Entrepreneur
Improving your office can have nearly magical power, one that surprises even those of us who work in the field of design. My colleague Stacy made over her own home office and, without any other changes, saw a fifty percent increase in her business. Was that because her new space allowed her to concentrate better? Was it because she exuded renewed strength and success, and her clients responded to that new energy? Probably both. Whatever the reason, it’s not a very big risk to change our space, and the potential rewards are huge.
Cluttered desk, cluttered mind?
When I’m asked, “Does a cluttered desk matter?” I notice that whoever is asking usually has a bias. Messy people ask with the hope that they don’t have to go home and tidy up, and tidy people ask it with an air of knowingness, just certain that I’ll back up their assertion that cleanliness is next to godliness. I don’t think there is one right answer. We all have different sensitivities to clutter, and our job is to figure out our own tolerance for clutter and, of course, balance that with the impression of stability and professionalism we want to give our clients.
Studies show that the “right” amount of clutter can boost your creativity, while the “wrong” amount of clutter can elevate your stress. And stress not only hurts your creativity in the short term, it hurts your health in the long term. But what is the “right” amount of clutter? That depends on your job, your team, and your personal tolerance. Just try to be honest with yourself. Is your clutter getting in the way of your success, making it hard to focus, a challenge to find what you need, and creating an unprofessional environment? If that messy desk works for you, who am I to ask you to change it? But if that same messy desk is actually a source of confusion, frustration, embarrassment, or procrastination, then of course you should change it.
Ready, Set, Launch
If you have career advancement in mind and picture a bright future for yourself, then do what it takes to set yourself up for success. It’s important to take action toward the new venture. If you just say you are committed to a new path but you are reluctant to let go of old habits, then the universe is going to let you keep the old ways. It will respond to your actions, not your words.
If you really want to propel forward, allow the old you to make way for the new you. It’s hard to stride ahead confidently while you’re carrying a bunch of old baggage. You need those hands free to grab opportunities! Does that mean you have to throw everything out and start over? Of course not. But you benefit by taking an honest look at your life, your home, and your office, and taking stock of the messages you are sending yourself.
As you set the scene for a new level of success, connect with the reason why you are going to make some changes, and keep that front and center as you change your space. This will help you figure out if your space just needs organizing and a fresh coat of paint, whether it needs new furniture and some built-in storage, or if it is time to invest in an office away from home. Without that clarity, you may not end up with the results you need, and risk wasting your time and money.
The exercises that follow should help create clarity around your why and give you some tools for success, too.
Setting the Scene for Success
What does success look and feel like for you? In your journal explore the following questions to identify where your existing space might not be meeting your needs so you can create positive changes.
- Write down your career or education goal...
- Identify a mentor or role model in that field...
- Use your imagination to think of what your mentor’s or role model’s workspace might look like. What kind of chair might they have? Desk? What books line their shelves?
- Now look at your workspace and, as if you did not work there, describe the person who works there. Based only on what you see, what do they do? What are their strengths, and what are their weaknesses? Judge as objectively as you can. Is this someone you would trust with your money? Is this the office of a successful person in your field?
After you identify three actions, mark on your calendar dates by which you will accomplish each action and how you will get it done. By each action, note resources you’ll need to get it done.