Chapter 12

Your personal workspace is as important
as the bedroom, kitchen, or dining area

Those who want to be their own entre­preneur need their very own personal work area. You should not hesitate for a second to demand from yourself the things you expect from an employer as a matter of course. When it comes to self-impro­vement, you are your own boss. Using your personal workspace for yourself must be as much fun as a hobby. Create it for yourself.

Not everything has to be perfect straight away

Do-it-yourselfers have their basement workshop, amateur artists have their studio in the attic, and hobby collectors have at least a corner in the living room. In the same manner, it should be a matter of course for each of us to have space for developing our perso­nality at home. If you want to be your own entre­preneur, you need own work area.

When designing your own space, the sky is the limit. There are the most unusual examples: in a camper, a shed, under the roof, under the stairs. If there is no other way, you can also go with a mobile space: setting up and taking down camping furniture or using the dining area and storing the utensils in boxes. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Once you have found your space, it does not have to be set up perfectly from the start. You work on this bit by bit as guided by your work. And do not follow the motto: “I will only start working when everything is finished.” What you want to do is create the starting point for the neces­sities of designing your workspace. You can definitely start with provi­sional arran­ge­ments. As we know, some large companies started in a garage.

Create an upbeat atmosphere!

Feeling good is of parti­cular impor­tance for your workspace at home and you get to set it up yourself. Variety is the spice of life. Why do everything sitting down? You can easily write and read at a standing desk, for example. Your back will thank you. A suitable standing desk can be bought for any taste – but you can also just use a box that is the right size and sturdy enough that you put on a table.

Youngsters create their individual atmos­phere in their room. You should do this the same way for your workspace at home: adding posters, pictures, text posters, your own art, a pin board, memora­bilia, etc.  The furniture, devices, and tools should be designed in such a way that they create a stimu­lating comfor­table feeling. The space and environment where you work on your self-impro­vement and self-develo­pment should be bright and cheerful. Depending on your work, you can create a special atmosphere.

When you learn French, you can add posters with images from France, souvenirs, postcards, cutouts and pictures from magazines and newspapers. Design your environment so that it is stimu­lating for you! The more starting points you give your senses to keep whatever you’re learning fresh in your mind, the easier and more fun working your brain becomes.

Be open to new ideas at all times

Working on yourself can be fun when you approach it with fun and creativity. Insights and ideas tend to pop up unexpec­tedly. And they often pop up when focusing on topics that they have nothing to do with. If this happens, do not block these ideas or treat them like uninvited guests, but rejoice in them and write them down in note form. Ideally, write these ideas down straight away before your attention focuses on something else again: write them down on a piece of paper that you put in your pocket or put it in a stack of things you collect or stick it on a pin board.

Lots of great ideas were first written down on a paper napkin. Don’t take a long time to review whether the idea is good or bad, usable or unrea­listic – and write down your idea! People who ignore a new thought that comes to their mind – because it might be incon­ve­nient at the time – and believe that they will remember later on are deceiving themselves; in most cases, you will not be able to remember them. And besides: when you neglect your ideas, you will have fewer and fewer because you ignore them.

In any case, it takes a certain amount of time to deal with a topic, a goal, a plan or a project inten­sively until your subcon­scious also engages with ideas. For this reason, you should welcome every new thought and write it down.

collect, review, sort

Giving your workplace a creative design helps to create impetus for new ideas. You will then have to include them into your ongoing activities. If you chose to only collect your ideas first, you need to sift them in the next step. Take down the post-it from your pin board or from your drawer or get out your notebook. You can now rate them: “Great idea” or “refine” or “research required”. If you are in doubt, it is often worthwhile to play with the idea, to twist and turn it, to vary it, and to see it in a different context – this may well trigger a bright idea. Not every flash of inspi­ration can be assigned to a project.

You can create a kind of think tank from the collection of your individual ideas: go through the notes indivi­dually from time to time and develop the thoughts further using questions. Add dates to all of your notes to take stock of where you are in the develo­pment of the ideas at all times.

Order is an indis­pensable tool

Keep everything tidy from the very start. That’s key. Your environment cannot be messy if you want your thoughts to remain straight in your head. This is not just about keeping order for order’s sake, but to find your way, maintain your orien­tation, and to not lose sight of the goal of your efforts. Keeping order helps to save time. What use is it to know that you have an idea without knowing where you’ve written it down.

Assigning everything a set place and remem­bering the structure allows you to have everything at your fingertips. The more your workplace grows, the more meaningful the structure of order has to be. There are countless systems that you can adapt to meet your respective needs. You need to develop your personal order that reflects your individual work style. Order keeps things you need for work in one place and also keeps them ready for use. Order struc­tures can always be improved. This is also a creative process.

Two questions need to be answered: What belongs together? Where is it stored? The organiz­ation, need for space, and tools results from your responses to these questions. These two questions apply similarly when you are working on a computer. You need to keep your files in an order so that you can find everything quickly but you also need folders that help you to organize your topics meaning­fully. The amount of time it takes you to find infor­mation will provide clues as to how well or poorly you are organized. Create an archive!

You have to keep your order system in order!

Over time, you can usually tell what you do every day (event diary). And what you spend time on regularly on the weekend (active reading, writing practice) and which projects you worked on case-by-case. Your order system must be organized accord­ingly. You need a clear system: Whether it’s alpha­be­tical or numerical, arranged by keywords, or names – it must be clear and consistent. The direc­tories must be kept complete and up-to-date. An address directory is only useful, for example, when the phone numbers and addresses are up-to-date.

And you need to declutter the directory at least once a year. Otherwise, you will drown in paper or files at some point. It already is helpful to know why you want to file something when you try to sort it. Don’t just keep everything along the lines of “Who knows whether this may be useful sometime”, and have the courage to also throw out ideas. You can create a clipboard: Create a stockpile of things you are unsure about whether or not you should keep and then check how to sort it once again.

Going through the directory while consi­dering “What do I want to keep or what can be thrown out or deleted?” requires decision-making criteria such as “Is important to me”, “Is outdated”, or “Is no longer interesting to me”.

Only those who have order in their filing system are suffi­ci­ently equipped to work on themselves and have the materials at hand that they need for developing their personality.

Equipping your personal workspace

Keep in mind: The location and physical equipment of your personal workspace reflect over time how highly you value your self-develo­pment. You can keep things simple, but you should not cut corners on the functio­n­ality of your work environment.

You need a variety of tools to plan your work, such as calendars and time pieces. Calendars give you a clear overview of all scheduled training, courses, creative sessions, or projects in chrono­lo­gical order. The deciding factor for the selection is which arran­gement is the most suitable for planning your work – whether this is a syste­ma­tized schedule book or a pocket calendar or a combi­nation of different calendars is up to you. Useful tools also include a pin board and a flip chart.

The way you equip your personal workspace should help you use your most valuable asset – time – the best way possible. This is why clocks, such as a desk clock, are conve­nient. In the beginning, the time you allotted to a certain task may deviate consi­derably from the time you actually needed. This provides motivation to look for the causes of incorrect estimates and to make the corre­sponding correc­tions. You can use time management for your individual activities to slowly get a feeling for how much time which task takes.

As you know, you can overdo everything. So heed this warning: Do not turn your personal workspace into a playground.

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