Work with how you turn up

You might have made your first few steps back into and around the workplace for this year. Hopefully you are refreshed and have a little more spring in each step - spring which might have been missing at the end of last year.

How we turn up each day has to affect the quality of our work.

It’s not just all in the mind though. Even the most intellectual jobs have a physicality about them that you can shape for better results. With a little thought you can put some grace and spice into the place you land in each day. How? By focusing on the way you own and interact with the space and its contents, and by noticing the results returned.

The space that you get to claim for yourself in a corporate work environment is changing. You don’t necessarily own your own work area anymore, for many of us it’s more like setting up a camp for the morning and then moving on. Whether you have your own space or not, each of us still have the ability to shape the immediate environment and how we use it.

Turning up at work often means turning on a computer or tablet. For the writers of this world, there’s nothing like the pressure of a blank page to put the thumbscrews on to come up with a better way to work. In the modern world, we can fill that blank screen with Facebook; the search for distraction is forever filled with Mr Google. There are better distractions which will, over time, help you find a more graceful and successful way to work.

Let’s assume that some of you write - copy, reports, emails, blogs - for a living. The list of well known authors who stood to write is long. As is the list of authors who sat at a wooden desk for years to crank out book after book. Each author had to experiment with the space and habits they took on and to adjust the setup and process to suit. What can you do here?

It’s time for us all to experiment. Here are three things we can all easily do:

  • Look at the space you can ‘own’ or ‘rent’. It may be a small as a locker, or as large as dedicated, full 1800mm long desk. and its surrounds There will also be some extra spaces around that you never seem to be forced out of. You'll have fridge space for lunch, whiteboard space for notes, a shelf for a print book. Your car may be parked a few blocks away. For some of us, it’s only the bag we bring with us to work. Make these locations places and spaces you can re-calibrate. They are, to use an idea from Buddhism, ‘impermanent’ at best. Your first goal is to visit and leave them with grace. How useful they are to you day to day is open to debate.
  • Look at the possibilities of the space you have come to for the first part of your day.
    • If you were there yesterday, how did it feel as you stood or sat there? Were you next to friends?
    • Could you look up to see something that interested, motivated or supported you?
    • Were you frustrated that the things you needed were too far away or that you had too many the things around and you felt closed in?
    • Go to a far corner of the space - does it feel strange to use a corner that you never visit?
    • Is the furniture in the way or does the space and its objects hold new options?
    • What can you let go of?
  • Change one item or habit. Push the chair to one end and stand for a phone call. Walk along the front of the full length of the desk before you pull the chair back in to sit down. Put a photo of a loved one in your bag. In your locker. Walk to look at it twice a day and remember why you are there at work. Keep your chilled lunch in the car and walk back there to get it. Make a plan to visit every window in the immediate work area over the morning. Then do that on the floor above. Going up the stairs.

In short, be a place and space ‘hacker’.

The possibilities are endless. I’d love you to share the ones that work for you. Telling your story will help you notice the things you could change or help someone else shift to a better way to work.