Yes, a (semi) minimalist workspace.
In the home of a maximalist.
As “weird” as it might sound, we don’t have to embrace a movement to use it for inspiration to make some changes, right?
I don’t really use the label on me, but you could define me as a maximalist: I love owning a lot of stuff that I can rely on at all times and I would never “downsize” unless I had a great internal push to do it… in some specific, small area of my life.
But you know what? A little touch of minimalism is actually doing charms for my mental health when it comes to handling my workspace.
To keep sensory overload at bay, mostly. To make my workspace less visually and mentally triggering.
My New Minimalist Workspace: How I Reorganized My Living Room Table
The living room is where I do all my work for fun and profit.
Drawing, writing, reading, studying… you name it.
I used to have piles over piles of books, notebooks and miscellaneous paper, cables, devices — and, naturally, my laptop — all scattered over my table. Ugh.
Now, the situation is what you can see in the photo above: there are only small piles of books, notebooks and tools that I’m currently using, no extras.
(The extras are in that hot pink puff you see peeping in from the corner on the right, near the Research Methods book.)
Everything’s organized and is there for a reason, and my productivity, as well as my mental calm, has skyrocketed since.
It’s incredible how much material clutter can turn my thoughts into a messy and unfocused soup.
If that was really a soup, it would taste sour. Blah.
Generally speaking, I don’t mind seeing my piles of stuff everywhere in the house, but when I’m on deadline or I’m trying to focus on a difficult task, a cluttered environment gets in the way.
Like ‘a lot’.
So this is my new productivity hack: keeping my workspace as tidy and organized as possible, with only the essentials to go through the task at hand, or a series of task at most (the ones on my to-do list — I like to switch projects when I start to get bored with the one I’ve been working on for some time).
Still, I Leave Plenty of Room for Creativity
Okay, let’s talk things straight: my minimalist workspace will never look like this one.
That kind of “emptiness” doesn’t get my creative juices flowing and it would ultimately dry me up inside as well as outside.
(As I mentioned earlier, the minimalist lifestyle doesn’t do it for me. I’m a maximalist, if I have to use a label.)
But I also try to not overdo it, because too much stuff around will trigger anxiety instead of inspiring me and fueling my creativity.
In the photo, I show the following items:
- my Asus notebook
- a paper notebook with a blue pen
- books and other paper notebooks on the background
- my Research Methods book
- a pouch to contain all my pens, pencils, etc.
These were all I needed to boost creativity along with productivity at the time of taking the photo:
- The Asus notebook was where I was doing the actual work (drafts, sketches)
- The paper notebook helped me with brainstorming and finding links between ideas thanks to the calming effect of paper (screens make me anxious and jittery)
- Books were my reference material and what I ultimately used when I needed a break (reading on actual paper relaxes me – and I was totally into the books topics)
- The Research Methods book was being a helpful tool and background material for both my freelance projects and my long-term scientific project
- The pouch with pens, etc…. well, you can imagine the purpose that served.
These items were my essential tools for getting stuff done and get it done with the right amount of creativity — which sparked more ideas for later use, ultimately.
Working with a Minimalist Workspace as A Freelance Copywriter and Artist
When you write copy or make art for clients, everything the client wants, and everything their target audience want, is always in front of your eyes.
There’s no much more space in your limited attention span for more than that.
So what I do is to pretend I have nothing else to do today but this one project (two or three at the most) and meditate to concentrate on this simple truth.
Like magically, everything else I own turns into background noise that doesn’t distract me, but it gives me the comforting “hold” that I need to this one thing done.
(And I get it done well, fast!)
Working with a minimalist workspace does exactly that. It’s that magic in action.
But a few minutes of meditation before that are what triggers the magic for me.
Conclusion: A Minimalist Workspace Might Work Well for Maximalists
To sum up my experience, I can say this:
The number of things you own as a maximalist doesn’t matter. It’s the way you use them — and organize them in your day to day life — that can make a difference in mental health and productivity.
Sometimes, when you feel overwhelmed, try doing what I do:
Pretend that the stuff around you isn’t yours, sit cross-legged and close your eyes. Meditate.
Declutter your mind, because that’s the only place where it really matters.
After that, get up and and reorganize your workspace as a minimalist workspace.
With a clear, calm mind, you’ll be able to see what you need right now and what you’ll need four hours from now.
Then it’s up to you to decide whether to only keep the right now or even the four hours from now, to see your day planned before you.
Be happy! 🙂
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