Ask LH: How Can I Make My Workspace More Inspiring?

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Dear Lifehacker, I read somewhere that a creative workspace can lead to higher productivity and wanted to know if it's true? I work in a boring office job (it pays the bills) but I'm a creative type at heart. My question is, how can I add creativity to my corner of a boring workplace to inspire myself (preferably without getting in trouble)? Thanks, Craving Creativity

Dear CC,

According to recent studies, a messy desk can help to boost creative thinking and stimulate new ideas. No really.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota in the US analysed the amount of creativity in different office environments during a series of tests. They found that the participants in cluttered, untidy offices came up with more interesting and creative ideas during brainstorming sessions than their tidy counterparts. As lead researcher Dr. Kathleen Vohs explains:

We used six different locations in our paper – the specifics of the rooms were not important. Just making that environment tidy or unkempt made a whopping difference in people's behavior. Being in a messy room led to something that firms, industries, and societies want more of: Creativity. Disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights.

On the downside, convincing upper management that your pigsty of a desk is a conduit to creativity could be a tough sell. For a less controversial solution, you could try incorporating a whiteboard into your workplace setup — depending on how flexible your workplace is, this could be either a mouse mat-sized creativity board or an actual segment of your desk. You can then create doodles or mind maps in your downtime which has been shown to boost productiveness and creativity.

Otherwise, our main advice is to put your own personal stamp on your work space. Install a fresh wallpaper or screen saver on your computer, stick a few knickknacks or figurines to your desk that inspire you, invest in some miniature pot plants, bring in some family photos; whatever gets your creative juices flowing, basically.

We're also going to throw this one over to our readers — what strategies do you employ to bring creativity into a sterile work environment? Let CC know in the comments section below.

See also: Ask LH: How Can I Fill In My Spare Time At Work? | How Doodling Can Make You More Productive | How To Use Mind Maps To Unleash Your Brain's Creativity And Potential

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