How I Work: Arranging Your Desk for Creative Productivity

A couple of weeks ago, a happy coincidence made me realize I hadn't rearranged my desk setup since we moved into our current offices at Creatuity almost two years ago - I read a brief article in Inc. that mentioned that people are more creative and less stressed when they can look up and see trees and natural light on the same day @PhilWinkle was awesome enough to retweet this tweet:

I decided to combine these ideas with my own unique twist to fit the culture and vibe here in Creatuity's offices. Here's my desk setup before I made these changes:


Despite having a great view of a large, mature oak tree out of the windows in my office, I had setup my desk where when I look up, I saw my whiteboard wall (IdeaPaint) and the hallway outside of my office. When I would get frustrated with a task or felt mentally blocked, I would look up and either see a distraction in the hallway or a solid white wall - not very inspiring.

Here's how I rearranged my office to take advantage of the view outside of my window, while switching my monitor setup around thanks to the inspiration from @jakeasmith:


The side-mounted display and laptop are used for anything that might distract me - generally Twitter, HipChat, IRC, etc. So when I'm focused in, I just don't even look over there. I've been using the primary monitor for whatever I'm actively working on, with the portrait-oriented monitors used for reference materials, my todo app (OmniFocus), terminal windows, etc.

My back is to my door, which took some time to get used to, but that's why I moved my motion-activated Portal-inspired Sentry Gun so that it faces the door and alerts me when someone walks in. That means I'm no longer distracted every time someone walks past, and when I look up while I'm stumped or frustrated with a task, I see blue sky and the oak tree. I took this opportunity to add a small zen garden and plant to my desk.

This setup gives me everything I need to be productive and get things done close at hand, and keeps me creative.

If you have any questions about my desk setup, my office or why we encourage everyone at Creatuity to really personalize their space (which is why I have the mix of travel and gaming posters on the walls of my office), find me on Twitter as @JoshuaSWarren or comment right here!

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Jamie Larson