from clutter to zen office

An uncluttered office is good.
A functional office is better.
An inspirational office is bliss.
~the existential coach

In out damn clutter I shared how I approached reducing the unwanted clutter in my home office. Now it’s time to share with you what is actually left in the office and how I determined what I needed.

the requirements

The minimalist work area was only half of what I needed to be creative. What I realized was that I needed my work space to be more than just functional, I needed it to inspire me! So I started to identify specific requirements.

Here is the short requirements list:

  • bright both in color and light
  • have open space for movement
  • minimal physical items such as furniture and decor
  • incorporate inspiring factors such as: music, words, aroma, movement, and art

the solutions

So how do each of these factors contribute to the inspired office while still keeping with the minimalist theme?

music. It sets the tone in a very powerful way for me. Using itunes or Pandora allows me to select the music to inspire the mood. I select calming music when I am stressed and need to calm down; energizing music when I want to go inspire movement and action. Both apps are available on the laptop and  iphone which means music anywhere, anytime. Add a compact and high quality headset like the mc3 or hf3 from etymotic Research and you’ll keep from straining your relationships with office or house mates as well as keep from being distracted from other noise.

words. The right words, both spoken and written, are inspirational at the right moment. Therefore having access to resources that you need, when you need them, where you need them is key. I don’t yet have an ipad, so I use my laptop and iphone for podcasts and audio books and of course there is that little thing called the internet with a gazillion blogs (managing blog reading is a topic for another post). I also have my kindle with a growing collection of ebooks, pdf reports, and my notes. Of course I still have some hardcopy books and probably always will (hopefully a lot less as time goes on!)  so I have book shelves which my hubby build in the closet. They are in the closet so that I can close the doors and enhance the feeling of minimalist white space when I need it!

aroma. A simple candle creates a powerful mood. Of course if there should happen to be homemade oatmeal cookies being made in the kitchen downstairs, and espresso for a latte brewing, that’s an inspiration as well! More importantly, having large windows to open in the spring and fall to bring in the fresh, cool air full of oxygen will help to keep you fresh – with inspiration! But really, smell is a powerful mood enhancer. Find what works for you and use it to your advantage.

movement. Open space is key for creativity and inspiration. Personally, I feel confined and constricted when there is not enough space for me to move around. I need open space in the office to walk around, do a little yoga, or maybe a bit of a hula dance when I’ve just reached a milestone. This is where the minimalist design helps keep things in check. To create open space, I sacrificed a sofa in my office.

art. The right art can inspire, the wrong can distract. Choosing what art to include in your office is a personal decision. Right now I have nothing on my walls except a blank whiteboard. Eventually I’ll invest in a real piece of art (or maybe create my own!) The next factor will help to define the right piece for me – white space.

white space.  This is where it all comes together. The light color of the walls, the sun and air coming in the open window, room for movement, and keeping things and stuff at a minimum.

There is one guideline that helps me to sustain a minimalist zen and inspirational office. It is a guide I learned from the unclutterer blog in the post Five steps to reclaim your living room. The guideline:

keep visible only those things that I am both passionate about and that inspire me

The home office is only one of many places that can be filled with inspiration and creativity. We can each create a different atmosphere by changing things like sounds, smells, lighting, and visual cues.  Another way to inspire creativity is through rituals. Next post we’ll explore rituals for creativity.

P.S. Here is a list of the functional necessities included in my minimalist office

  • laptop and docking station
  • backup storage
  • large screen display
  • scanner
  • shredder
  • kindle
  • iphone
  • chargers for all of the above
  • desk
  • chair
  • lamp
  • white board
  • bookshelf (hidden in closet)
  • small fireproof filebox
  • Shelf next to desk to hold above items
  • puppy at my feet (great for stress relief)