How To Design an Awesome Work Space to Optimise Happiness & Creativity When You Travel

14:30 Amy Lou 0 Comments

Hands up: does your work space feel awesome?

I'm betting that an awful lot of you didn't raise your hand, even though you probably spend hours and hours in your work space. Surely a space that you spend so much time in should be personalised by filling it with things that optimise your productivity and feed your soul? I reckon so, and science has got my back on this one - more on that later.

Personalising your work space isn't about gathering more STUFF - it's about sparking your creativity, boosting your productivity and surrounding yourself with memories and beauty. Judging by Pinterest, many people enjoy a minimalist work space - but the most minimalist of work spaces can be personalised effectively with one or two well-chosen prints.

Travelers can personalise their work space by creating a portable Wall of Awesome.


Here's my Wall of Awesome, filled with beautiful memories and images.

I've got photographs of friends and family, prints, postcards from festivals and markets, greetings cards from my family, posters I bought over from the UK, postcards of my hometown, drawings I've done, a thought-provoking scene of kindness from the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast and postcards from friends and family.

I added a touch of whimsy - a beautiful lamp with tree branches and birds on it. There's a blue metal bucket full of (fake!) pink roses. I bought floral fabric from the local market, and used ribbon to hang it over my rented house's original curtains. I *love* my work space, and often pick up something new to add to my Wall. I'd also really love to take a calligraphy course and write out quotes that inspire me in beautiful handwriting. As you can see, my Wall of Awesome isn't minimalist - that's just the way I prefer it.

95% of my Wall is easy to transport around the world.

The trick is to ensure that all Wall of Awesome things are flat and small, or can be folded small. All those postcards, photos, pictures fit inside a sturdy envelope, which is kept flat in my backpack behind my laptop when I travel. I fold the larger posters, and the creases seem to fade out in time. I'm always so happy to transform a blank, empty wall into a Wall of Awesome. The envelope of happiness is well worth the extra baggage weight.

A photo posted by Typo (@typoshop) on

Benefits of a personalised work space:

You can look up during a creative block and see images that inspire you. When you're stressing out, gaze at a picture that calms you. Images and quotes can serve as reminders to be a better person - the traditional fairy tale style drawing from Beauty and the Beast reminds me to be kind to others. Photographs of family, friends and pets make you feel closer to important people thousands of miles away. When you're feeling homesick, your favourite faces and places from home are only a glance away.

Happier space = happier brain. Science says so!

If your work space makes you feel happy, you'll find it a lot easier to smile more. Studies have repeatedly shown that smiling makes you feel happier, even if you're stressed - it's called the Facial Feedback Hypothesis. Smile researcher Ron Gutman analysed smile studies and found that “Smiling stimulates our brain’s reward mechanisms in a way that even chocolate, a well-regarded pleasure-inducer, cannot match.

Real smiles are more effective stress-reducers than fake smiles. It's pretty difficult to look at a photograph of your friends and family laughing and smiling without smiling - genuinely - yourself. Put things that make you smile on your Wall! The fantastic TED video below explores the amazing super-powers of smiling.

Add scents to your work environment.

I've been reading various studies and articles that explain how different smells can affect our mood, creativity and productivity. Cinnamon, rosemary and peppermint seem to be suggested as the best work space scents. I'm planning to buy an oil burner and essential oils to experiment with at the Chiang Mai Sunday market soon.

A cluttered work space isn't good.

Don't mistake beautifying your work area with cluttering up your desk. A clean, organised desk is essential to high productivity levels. Clutter is a visual and emotional drain, and will distract you from work and your Wall. It can make you feel overwhelmed and worry about tidying up rather than on your work. I find this really hard to keep on top of - as I write there are about four empty water bottles, a random toothpaste tube and an empty coffee mug next to me. My environments are generally pretty chaotic and it's really difficult for me to keep order. I know this stuff is dragging me down, and I'm going to move it right now. Guess my mum was right after all - tidy desk, tidy mind. Bleh!

You don't need to spend a fortune.

You're creating a space to nurture your soul, not curating an art gallery. The postcards on my wall cost from 10 - 40 baht. The prints start from around 50 baht. The drawings I did myself, so only cost the price of my crayons and black pen. It costs 5 baht to print high quality photographs at Central Airport Plaza in Chiang Mai. Postcards and greetings cards were free!

Now, go create your own Wall of Awesome - your mind will thank you for it.

I'd love to see your work space! Share a photo on Facebook, email me or tag me on Instagram - I'm really looking forward to seeing where you work. Also - how do you all keep your desk tidy and organised? That's absolutely my biggest obstacle to achieving a consistently perfect working environment!

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