My daily morning routine involves coming to the workstation in my “man cave”/home office, and then turning on the notebook to start doing my work. I’ve been following this routine for quite some time. I no longer think about it. I just show up every morning and do the work. This is part of being a pro.

My workstation area is my private, intellectual work (and think) space where I spend most of my work time. It’s my sanctum sanctorum. It’s where I fight the daily inner creative battles with myself. As such, I’ve designed this space in a way that it triggers positive work vibes. As a result, I feel focused and ready to do good work every time I enter this space. I use this space to think, to incubate, and to let my ideas germinate. I do all of my knowledge work including admin work in this space.

There are a few reasons why you want a dedicated workspace:

  • You need designated spaces in your home. My living area is where I relax at the end of a long work day. My dining room is where I eat. My bedroom is for sleep. My work space is where I work most of my work time. Having this distinction between different spaces is essential because these spaces trigger the appropriate behavior for the activity you’re doing — they provide context for what you do.

  • Another reason you want a dedicated work space is because the only way to make significant progress on your projects is to focus on results. To do this, you need to work in solitude in large blocks of uninterrupted time (in order to do great work, solitude is required).

  • Coming back to this familiar space every day that I’ve designed and built for myself helps maintain order in my private universe. The process of showing up at work determines the outcome of the work. My family knows I’m off-limits when I’m in my office — that means no interruptions during work time unless it’s an emergency. In your case, it might be colleagues at work. Whatever it is, you need to define your boundaries if you want to get any work done at all.

  • Working here gives me the space to be fully creative.

So how do we set up this space? This space can be your workstation at home or at work. Spend some time thinking about setting it up the way you want.

Your workspace should be designed in a way that provides little resistance and is maximally optimized for you to get work done. It should provide that order so you can be free to be creative in that space. It should have things that inspire you.

Incorporate more play in your work space. Make it fun. You should enjoy being in your space. You don’t want to feel like you have to be in it. For instance, I have a Mario figurine on my work desk.

What’s essential is to make your workspace your own. If you have a work place that you commute to, have a workspace at home and a “home space” at work. Incorporate elements from either space into the other.

Figure out the tools you would need for this space. Once decided, stick to the tools, use the heck out of them, and focus on doing your work. The tools would become invisible at that point, so to speak, thus making the work visible.

Common tools in your workspace might include:

  • desk
  • chair
  • computer (with keyboard and mouse)
  • wireless internet
  • printer
  • speakers
  • headphones
  • pocket radio
  • pen/pencil stand
  • physical calendar
  • trays for inbox, reference, and action support
  • mini library of books
  • things that inspire you — photos, quotes, etc.
  • personal effects
  • short-term goals
  • whiteboards
  • writing pad
  • sticky notes
  • action figurines

When you have a dedicated space to work every day with appropriate tools, then you can stop worrying about the space and focus on showing up and doing great work.

Thanks to Michael Lopp for the inspiration to write this piece.

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