Welcome to Episode 5 of the Every Entrepreneur Needs Systems podcast.
As I write this episode in my home office, there are a few things going on around me. I’ve lit the Black Cherry Merlot candle from Bath and Body Works, and it’s filling the room with the sweet smell of wine. Last month, I found an awesome Himlayan salt lamp, and it arrived last week. It’s lighting up my desktop.
(You can listen to this podcast by clicking the “play” button below, or you can keep reading).
I have an Apple heavy desk too – I’m writing on my iMac with retina display that cycles through some awesomely beautiful screen backdrops every 15 minutes. My iPhone is on the desk and playing my favorite instrumental compositions from the Piano Guys and there’s both a glass of cold water and iced coffee on hand to keep me hydrated and energized through the afternoon.
It might be dreary and rainy outside my office, there may be a stack of clothes I need to sort for donation in the corner, and my dog may be snoring in his bed right in front of the space heater but for me, this is the optimal space for success.
Too often I hear of entrepreneurs who cram themselves in the corner of a table, work from the couch or bed, and I can’t imagine doing that on the regular. Setting up a successful space for your business is crucial, and you don’t even need to spend money if you’re strategic about it.
The first step is to address the 5 senses: sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste. This might mean finding yourself a comfortable desk chair, balance ball, or standing desk so you’re not straining or shifting too much during work.
Several years ago, I was visiting a friend out of state and we broke out our laptops for a couple hours of work at his house. I could tell the living room wasn’t a common place as he kept shifting and couldn’t get comfortable enough to finish a task. After a little moving around and by using a throw pillow to elevate the computer, he found it much easier to work.
Once you get into a comfortable environment you’ll see how much harder it is to work in a different setting.
I used to think that what I heard around my desk was only important in the corporate world where I had the most obnoxious co-workers you could imagine. But try working from Starbucks – in the comfortable chairs of course – right under one of their speakers. It’s my theory that they blast patrons with annoying elevator music so you’ll leave faster.
In my office I like to have instrumental music – without lyrics – play or have some light white noise. While the Piano Guys are a favorite, I also have a playlist of “epic soundtrack” compilations and also find some yoga and reiki music enjoyable. If none of the music I usually like is helping, then I’ll turn on my RainyDay app to listen to the sound of rain on a tin roof. Anything to drown out the dog snoring.
Scent may not seem very important to you, but I’m willing to bet that somewhere in your house there’s a candle. SNL did a sketch on it – everyone has been gifted some generic candle at some point! Next time you sit down to work, just light it and let it burn. Usually you don’t notice the difference until you’ve left the room and come back in.
Lots of people talk about the importance of staying hydrated throughout the day, so I won’t harp about drinking at your desk. Find your favorite tea, coffee, juice, or water and keep it filled up throughout the day. If you like the taste of mint and having fresh breath like I do, consider keeping a toothbrush and paste at your desk as well as some gum or mints. Freshening up your mouth midday can be invigorating!
Finally, sight. I’m not telling you to go out and buy a new computer, artwork or repaint your office, but look for small ways to improve what visually surrounds your desk. Is there an inspiring picture or piece of artwork you love? Hang it within your sightline. I have pin boards full of pictures and lovely notes from friends and clients that encourage me as well as some of my favorite photos from travels in my office.
Your task might even be easier than that – when was the last time you cleaned your computer screen of fingerprints and wiped down the desktop? It might be time for better task lighting, to move something distracting out of your office (like my stack of donations), or bring in a new rug or wall color.
Creating a space for success doesn’t mean that when you sit down you’ll have perfect ideas, never get writer’s block, or have all the answers, so don’t spend all your energy on creating the perfect office – instead, consider it a piece of the whole puzzle.
For me, it’s hard to focus on what needs to be done online (a blog post, email, setting up a campaign) if there’s something distracting in my space.
One of the reasons I became a full-time entrepreneur was so I would have more control over my environment – my old desk job would never have let me burn candles, listen to music aloud, or bring in my own lamps for low lighting when I had a headache. Create a space for yourself that invigorates you to work and is enjoyable.
The next time you sit down to work look around and ask yourself what you would change that you can see, hear, taste, smell, and touch.
And check out the brand new artwork I just received this week!
Join me every Monday to learn about the systems your business needs most, how to build them and make them run “automagically.” I’m Kelly Azevedo, founder of She’s Got Systems and author of Every Entrepreneur Needs Systems.