I am currently reading George Lois’ book Damn Good Advice (for people with talent): How to Unleash Your Creative Potential by America’s Mass Communicator. Lois revolutionized advertising and mass communications. Sixty years later he is still challenging us to think and act creatively in the service of spreading enlightened thinking. This book is not just about creativity, it is his philosophy of work and life.
Anyone who works at solving a problem or improving a product is a creative person. Any person who works from a home office; whether a telecommuter, free-lancer, remote worker or solo entrepreneur; draws on their creativity more than most.
Does your home office or workspace support this independent, creative thinking? Here is George Lois’ take on workspace for generating original ideas.
“Make your surroundings a metaphor for who you are.
I once visited a great architect in his office and was shocked by the clutter and tastelessness of his surroundings. How unlike his office were the structures and environment he produced! He spent his lifetime striving to make the world outside him look harmonious, while he looked at a mess inside the very room where he did his work.
The only thing I ever permit on my desk is the job I’m working on. And, in my work place, there is nothing on the walls (except my nineteenth-century Seth Thomas clock) to distract me from what I’m supposed to be thinking about on my desk. I’ve always invested so much effort in my immediate surroundings because the objects and surfaces and forms that surround me must feel aesthetically right to me. Your working surroundings should not be a presentation to your clients. (Indeed, when my clients first see my office they invariably give me a strange look.)
Everything I believe in is reflected in this photograph of my work area: precision, simplicity, clarity.”
“…while he looked at a mess inside the very room where he did his work.”
Can you develop innovative projects, products or solutions in a cluttered office? Maybe, but it will be harder. When a space is cluttered with visual noise your eyes look from object to object. Where your eyes go, your mind goes. So instead of focused thinking your mind is bouncing from one thought to another: “return that call”, “move up the date of this meeting”, “don’t forget to…”. Hardly the concentration you need to do something original or strategic.
“The only thing I ever permit on my desk is the job I’m working on.”
As you may notice, there is no computer on Lois’ desk in this photo. That’s because it was taken in 1969 – before personal computers. But this principle of a cleared space can be applied to the modern home office. For example, when I am thinking, creating, writing, brain storming or mindmapping, I work at a cleared table near my desk. I find that when I am having a phone conversation when I need to gather information from a conversation, I pivot my chair away from my computer desk. That way my eyes – and my brain – are not distracted.
“I’ve always invested so much effort in my immediate surroundings because the objects and surfaces and forms that surround me must feel aesthetically right to me.”
Not everyone one has the fine-tuned aesthetic sensibilities of George Lois, but having an office with well-designed furniture and a few accessories can nourish the spirit. Apple® has made a mission out of incorporating fine design into their products. Good design is not a function of high prices, but of thoughtful buying decisions.
Learn from John Cleese how any kind of original thinking requires a break from busyness and normal business.
How to set up your home office for original thinking and strategic planning :
- Clear your calendar and claim the time you need for focused thinking.
- Clear your desk or move to a quieter, less disruptive space.
- Close your computer and turn off your cell phone to give you the undisturbed time and place for original thinking and problem solving.
How to you set-up your home office or corporate office for focused thinking?
An efficient home office or corporate office is more than the sum of it’s technology. Learn how you can set-up a home office that works for you: The Smarter Home Office: 8 Simple Steps to Increase Your Income, Inspiration and Comfort.
photo credit co-create