We often have a lot of projects going on at the same time. Keeping track of those projects is a skill in itself, but getting yourself motivated to swap from task to task can be even more difficult. This might sound crazy, but setting up activity-specific desktops could be enough to set the mood so you can get into the mindset of the kind of work you're doing.
Title photo remixed from Brandt Kurowski.
Chances are no matter what your profession, you don't do the same exact thing all day long. The idea of different workspaces isn't new, but making them look and feel different might be enough to trigger your brain to switch tasks. Using a splash of colour theory and some basic workspace productivity tips you can separate your spaces by mood, mindset and activity. Let's take a look at a few of the simple ways to do it yourself.
Set Up Different Computer Desktops in Different Moods for Different Tasks
We know that different environments create different moods. We vary in what we prefer, but science has shown that blue tends to make you more creative and red can help you focus. While you won't find a shortage of theories on how colours and images affect your mood, chances are you have a good idea of what types of images and colours trigger your moods to help you focus on a specific task. With that in mind, setting up an activity-based desktop with a different mood based theme is way that might help you get in the mindset of working.
For instance, if you need to work through some stuff in Photoshop for the afternoon you can set up a nice, blue background picture, create an application menu specific to your needs, and maybe even throw on a few themes with Geektool or Rainmeter. Here's a few ways you can actually do it for yourself.
Set Up Mission Control and Multiple User Accounts on a Mac
You have a couple of simple ways you can implement this on a Mac depending on how far you want to take it. If you're looking to simply tap into the potential of a well-chosen kitten background for inspiration now and again, Lion's built-in Mission Control is the way to do it. Mission Control sets up different workspaces for whatever you're doing and each of those workspaces gets its own desktop background. Set a specially-chosen background for each workspace and you have a different mood for each area.
Of course, mood isn't just about colour or kittens, it's also about the design and workflow. If you want to ramp things up a bit you can establish completely different workspaces by creating users. We've shown you how to do this before and it's pretty simple.
The benefit over using Mission Control is that you get full control over the mood you're going for. For instance, you can customise your dock's behaviour, the files on the desktop and everything else. If you're trying to get in the mood to write something, you might create a user account that logs you, kills the dock, shows off a pretty beach background (or whatever) opens your favourite writing program and cues up your favourite writing music.
Set Up Virtual Desktops on Windows
For Windows you have options aplenty for virtual workspace managers. We tend to like Dexpot and Nspaces for their ease of use. The same basic premise of Mission Control on a Mac works here, but both programs allow you to dedicate those workspaces a lot more specifically which means you don't have to worry about creating different user accounts.
Create Changeable Physical Workspaces
It's not all about the digital world when you're creating pleasant activity-specific desktop space. You can do the same in the physical world. For instance, I once had a coworker who had a double-sided poster that she flipped around depending on which task she was doing. It sounds cheesy, especially when you know that one side was a picture of a lion and the other an ocean, but she swore by this technique.
The previously mentioned idea of interchangeable workspaces using serving trays is a great way to do this. Theoretically, if you wanted to take it to an extreme you could actually swap out your desktop decorations in the same way.
Mood lighting is another way to accent any work you're doing. If you're looking to really spice up your workspace, installing a few LED lights or an ambient lighting system might help get you in the mood to to work quickly.
With a lot of different types of tasks to do, multiple jobs, and plenty of hobbies to go along with all that, managing your mindset for each of those tasks is tough. This is just one possible way to set up your workspace to get you in the mood for a task. What do you do?