How to create a work space that nourishes (not drains) you

Are you nourished, or drained, by your surroundings? What can you change?

Too much stuff around us is often a source of anxiety; surprisingly easy to overlook and simple to fix…

If you’ve known me more than five minutes, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of decluttering, of everything having a rightful place and of letting go of anything that does not serve you. I believe in physical (and mental) spaces that nurture, not drain.

And since I discovered that I’m a HSP (highly sensitive person) I’ve realised why I’ve always had a strong urge for a simpler, clutter-free life (HSP’s are easily drained when there’s too much going on around them). What I couldn’t figure out was HOW to make things simpler until I came across the Life Changing Magic of Tidying. And for me it was life changing. I booked my coaching training back in 2017 as a direct result, and because of the impact of clutter and space on mental health, decluttering is a tool I often share with clients.

Note: Whilst I think the book is worth a read, I don’t agree with everything Marie Kondo shares; it’s a black and white approach and I think there’s a gentler way.

So, where are you right now? 

It’s likely you’re at home, somewhere you may not usually work, possibly with people around you who are also usually elsewhere during the day? Or maybe you often work at home, in a space that’s not designed for you to do your best work?

(I’m focusing on workspaces here; it’s usually a place we spend hours every day and it just makes so much sense that where we work supports us, physically and mentally. But everything I talk about can be applied to your whole world!)

Where we are gives us cues as to what we’re about to do and the way it feels can impact how we feel about what we do there too, and I love the idea that we can play around with spaces to give us what we need… 

My very best tips for creating the right space around you

A space that’s exactly what you need it to be; calm or energising, inspiring, comfortable and functional. (You can do this for free, it’s not about spending loads of time or money, it’s about working with what you have already!)

1. Choose which space you’d like to work on.

Maybe this is your temporary home office, or a work space on the dining table, or even creating room to bake more often in the kitchen… choose a small area for now; you can repeat this across the whole house if it works for you!

Get clear on what you want from this space – what will you do here and how should it feel as you arrive?

A mini vision board can be helpful to keep you on track – pick out a few images or colours from magazines or Pinterest to nudge you in the right direction.

2. Move everything out of the space!

Yes everything, this bit is important! Books, papers, kitchen paraphernalia, pictures; everything. You might even paint or wallpaper at this point, depending on energy, time and resources.

Once everything is out of the way, consider where the big stuff needs to be.

This change around may be temporary but that doesn’t mean it can’t feel good! Most furniture is moveable, so it’s a good time to ask, is it in the right place, for me, at this time?

Occasionally I find a good swap of furniture from one room to another, if I let go of the thought “but it’s always been here!”

Keeping your ‘vision’ in mind, decide on your criteria for what items will return here? Will they be functional, beautiful, inspiring?

Marie Kondo insists that everything you keep should ‘spark joy’ and, having applied it to a whole house, I can tell you that I do love this as a criteria! At the same time I recognise that (especially now) we don’t all have the time, freedom or funds to replace necessary items that don’t spark joy… especially if you’re creating a temporary space, though you may decide to create a replace-list for the future.

3. Only bring back items that, individually, meet your criteria!

Maybe you’ll bring something from another part of the house to bring it closer to your vision.

I found that some things that I loved were just in the wrong place…

Possibly you’ll notice that you’ve out-grown stuff that’s just been there for years without you really seeing it; I found this happened to me, a lot.

Set aside anything that doesn’t make the grade (for recycling, charity donations, eBay etc once these things are possible again)

4. Notice how your space feels now when you arrive?

Maybe you have your space the way you want it already? Nice work!

You may also like this tip, from a dear friend of mine… she suggests creating rituals to signal a change in activity, especially when you can’t use a change of space to do this.

With no choice other than to work in the kitchen of her small apartment she does two simple things to separate ‘work’ from ‘home’…

Firstly, she wears a watch for ‘work’ and takes it off when she’s finished for the day.

And secondly, she lights a candle once her laptop is packed away to say “I’m home”.

These are just two quick, simple rituals that work for my friend… what do you do?!

Clutter, whether physical or mental, can be a real source of anxiety and stress… I stumbled across this phrase and it stuck, it’s so true for me and I love to share it: 

“Decluttering is the medicine I take for my anxiety”

Coaching is one great way to shift the mental clutter but if physical decluttering is something you’d be interested in getting support or accountability with, please do book in a free half hour call with me. And I’ll be trialling a new way of working very soon which could allow me to support you with remote decluttering 🙂

Published by Sarah: Lioness

My own journey of self-doubt-untangling & learning to listen to myself has led me to here; helping women, who know deep down that they can do great things, to get out of their own way, even if they're scared & overwhelmed right now. I believe whole-heartedly in the power of quiet voices & deep-to-the-core self-belief. Discovering that I was destined to be a coach has been the best thing (after becoming a mum) ever.

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