As I write this article, I am seated in a big comfy chair with some amazing Oscar Peterson jazz in the background, which just always seems to make the morning go more smoothly. It got me thinking – with so much at work that seems beyond our control – how very important it is to create the right environment to produce our optimal work.
If I were deadline-driven today, Oscar Peterson would not be my choice. (I’m thinking something a little more bass-driven, and with a much faster tempo.) Or maybe quiet thinking time would be even better. No matter – you get the point:
Aesthetics matter. In order to do your best work, you have to create the right environment. Even if you work in cube-land, there are ways to do this. Post pictures that represent important people or goals in very prominent places. Position your computer so that you see what’s important or inspiring to you. For some people, this means facing a window; others need focus without visual distraction; still others want interaction with other people. Set your workspace up so that it’s pleasant AND productive.
Surround yourself with “music”. I use quotes on music because that may or may not be your thing. Maybe you prefer quiet, or the hubbub of the office the background to generate your best work, or maybe an open window to allow access to what’s happening outside. Pause for a few minutes – right now: what do you hear? I took a copywriting class in college and we had to write a thirty second commercial based on a conversation that we’d overheard. The lesson I took away: listen to your surroundings. There’s a lot happening!
And surround yourself with the right people. I have a great group of mentors and colleagues who are my lifeline. I make an effort to build and maintain relationships. I invest in others, and know that they invest in me, too! This is not a quid-pro-quo relationship: it is a mutually enlightening and affirming relationship. I know that I can go to my personal board for counsel, creativity – or sometimes a kick in the tail! I seek wise, achievement-oriented, supportive thinkers to be a part of my “tribe” and hope to offer the same in return. Who’s in your circle of trusted advisors? If you don’t have one, now is the time to build this council. You – and they – will benefit.
P.S. My favorite real conversation-turned-into a commercial: a classmate heard a 2 AM conversation in the local convenience store. The ad ended with the tagline “M&M’s – they don’t go with beer.” Effective? Maybe not. Memorable? Absolutely!