How to Optimize Your Workspace & Habits for Creativity

June 15, 2016 Kelly O'Hara

Creative workspace

Finding creativity in an office – especially a cubicle jungle – can be tough. When you’re in marketing, you often don’t have the time to find yourself in a creative rut, so here are some ways that you can alter your environment and habits for optimal creativity:

Make your ears happy

As a content marketer, I spend a lot of my time writing. I, personally, can’t do that with a lot going on around me, be it overhearing a co-worker’s conversation or even listening to a song that has lyrics. Creating the perfect sound environment can be hard in a shared workspace, especially if you have an open-concept office.

While too many noises can cramp your flow, absolute silence is actually just as bad for creativity. Ambient noise has been proven to increase creativity in a study that compared participants with ambient noise levels ranging from moderate down to complete silence. Subjects performed best under moderate levels... which makes sense why you always see that one guy in Starbucks on his laptop. To boost your creativity and focus, create a playlist with some ~sick beats~ or listen to a service like Noisli which lets you fine-tune your sounds (a sprinkle of thunder, a pinch of railroad tracks... ahh creativity).

Know when to take a break

Guess what? Recess had a point after all (and I’m lobbying to get it reinstated in adult life). Studies have shown that taking breaks throughout the work day leads to better quality work than what would be produced during the same amount of time with no breaks.

Does this mean you should sit back and play candy crush every 50 minutes? No, probably not. But, you can spend that time creating a new super-creative playlist, reading an article, or going for a walk… talk about segues:

Change your scenery

So, we now know that staring at the same thing for hours on end isn’t going to help you become more creative. Every so often, try switching over to a standing desk to stretch your legs, move to a meeting room, or buckle down on a couch. The change in your workspace (and the break you have by taking the time to get there) gives your brain a chance to recharge.

BUT! It should be noted that moving from your cluttered desk to a cleaner area may not actually be helping you get the creative juices flowing, despite what we may think. While clean spaces are great for healthy life choices, as research shows, messy environments can actually foster creativity. This is the reason why my apartment is a mess, I swear.

Color yourself creative

One of my favorite parts of my marketing courses in college was learning about color psychology and how different colors will invoke different reactions (e.g. how red makes you hungry which is why so many food brands use the color... looking at you, McDonald’s). You can apply this same psychology to spark creativity at your desk or throughout the office.

Blue is good for focus, orange for enthusiasm, purple for wisdom, and pink for calmness. On the flip side, black can be for evil, brown for boredom, and yellow for making babies cry... so choose wisely.

Stop, collaborate, and listen

Don’t underestimate the power of your co-workers’ brains. Inspiration can come from unlikely places and even if you think Paul from Accounting wouldn’t know what great marketing looked like even if it hit him in the face, you shouldn’t  be so quick to shut him down.

Set aside time to brainstorm with a variety of your co-workers. They may not only think up some pretty awesome ideas, but it’s always a good plan to gut-check your grand scheme with someone who doesn’t speak your marketing language. Also, don’t just brainstorm over chat or email – physically get together in the same room. Use whiteboards, sticky notes, or whatever you fancy and let the creativity fly.

This post was written in my messy apartment, over the course of a few hours with multiple breaks, while listening to Hip Hop Study Break on Spotify.

Now that you've got creativity in the bag, watch our webinar to learn how to 10x your team's productivity.

About the Author

Kelly O'Hara

Kelly is a Content Marketing Consultant at Uberflip, helping the team with content strategy and implementation. As a Massachusetts native living in Toronto, she spends her free time exploring the city, hanging out with her cat & dog, and watching Tom Hanks movies.

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