How Changing Your Workspace Can Boost Creativity

What if a simple thing like decluttering your desk could result in the next big idea for your company? Or adding a green leafy plant could bring more “green” into your business? When it comes to boosting creativity in the workplace, the right office environment may generate more “Aha!” moments and happier days.

Color matters

Gray cubicle walls hardly inspire the gray matter of our brains, but research shows that certain colors can and do enhance creativity. One study found that test subjects in a predominately blue room were able to solve insight puzzles twice as fast as other subjects.

What can color in the workplace do for you? Consider the following creativity-enhancing benefits of these colors:

BLUE: Promotes openness and thinking outside the box

YELLOW: Increases energy flow

ORANGE: Helps improve concentration

RED: Enhances attention to detail (good for solving analytic problems)

GREEN (especially nature’s hues): Refreshes body, mind and spirit

PURPLE: Encourages fresh perspectives

If you’re limited in what you can do in your office space, try holding an orange as you think through a solution to a problem. Or sip your favorite beverage from a bright yellow cup.

Declutter your desk, declutter your mind

In the thick of a big project? A little mess may actually help the creative process, but when your desk gets too cluttered, it can become a detriment to clear thinking.

  • Control chaos for papers that don’t require your immediate attention with a “later” basket.

  • Get in the habit of emptying your “later” basket and cleaning off your desktop at the end of the day or before starting a new project.

  • When you clear your desktop, allow only those things you use every day to remain; put everything else away.

  • Sit at your desk. Arrange your work space so that the things you use most often are within arm’s reach.

  • Regularly purge files. Shred or recycle documents no longer needed. Relegate “dead” projects and client files to archive storage.

The act of clearing clutter can help to clear your mind—and who knows? You may even find something under those piles of paper that will spark an idea.  

Imbue your office with positive energy

Unleash your creativity by surrounding yourself with things that inspire joy. These might include:  

  • Photographs of family and friends

  • Reminders of successful projects or awards

  • Posters with inspirational quotes

  • A vision board

  • Things of your own creation

  • Small toys and meaningful objects

  • Anything that helps you relax (like glass beads in a bowl or a stress ball)

Feng shui practitioners believe that the position of your desk impacts the energy of your workspace. Ideally, your desk will be in the far corner from the door, facing out—that puts you in a more commanding position of energy flow.

You might consider replacing your desk chair with a big exercise ball (in one of the colors mentioned earlier, of course!). The challenge of sitting upright will make you more mindful of good posture which, in turn, will allow your lungs to get more oxygen and keep you mentally sharp.

While none of these ideas are guaranteed to turn you into a creative genius, making a few of the suggested changes can’t hurt. It’s all about creating an environment that suits your personality so that you can be the best version of your creative self. And that’s something you can feel good about at the end of the day.

Donna Smallin Kuper writes for Quill.com about tips to organize your life. She shares more organizing secrets on her website unclutter.com.