Much of my dive into the Science of creative space was prompted after I read an amazing book by Donald M. Rattner: My Creative Space. He does a fantastic job of distilling much of the science out there around how to spark creativity and innovation using your physical space as a tool. After reading I felt compelled to journey deeper into the subject and uncover more light bulb moments. Most of us miss the opportunity to use this tool to aide in our creative and work success. We’ve tried to employ these tactics in our spaces and studios and most of the techniques are very simple to execute!
I thought it would be valuable to chunk down the tactics and techniques into bite size digestible pieces so you can take advantage of the ideas and insights.
Tactic #1 - Designate a Creative Space
What to do
Find and establish a consistent place or space to pursue your creative work and use it religiously. If you haven’t found this spot in your place of residence and you have become accustomed to just settling on a spot on the sofa or laying on your bed when working then it’s time to really designate a space and establish a routine. For many of us we have a studio at home with equipment that doesn’t move so that place is officially designated! But what about all the creative work that happens that’s not making music or mixing sound? I would take this tactic one step further and focus all your creative work in one place but avoid mixing task oriented jobs like your email and accounting work or time on social media from happening here. I have always preached using the right spaces at the right time for the right task. Here is why...
Why does this work?
Think about Pavlov’s dog experiment that we all know well. When you routinely do creative work in one place...
...your brain begins to subconsciously associate these surroundings with the activities routinely performed in them to the point where you have only to step into the space for it to automatically trigger a creative mind-set.
It’s called brain priming and it works very well. We are linking a sensory input to a change in behaviour or mental state. Part of this tactic is also establishing a regular time for your creative output which avoids spending precious energy thinking about when you will be engaging in these activities.
Create Zones - This is Very Important
It’s also important to realize that when you mix creative activities with task based ones you are creating the same brain priming effect but for the wrong types of goals! Think about it. If you are sitting in front of a computer and your instruments penning a new melody or crafting some Sci Fi sound design, you want to make sure your brain is primed for that job. If 25 minutes earlier you were in the same place where you write music but you were responding to a confrontational email or working on your taxes what mental state are you priming when you are working in that space? Separate these worlds as much as you can. Do your emailing at the kitchen table for example. Treat your entire home as a lab and designate different spaces for different creative tasks and tedious tasks!
How to do it?
Find and designate a space. This can be almost any space as long as it’s designated. Detached spaces, Enclosed spaces, Alcoves, Subordinate spaces that are part of larger open areas, Flexible spaces like a specific spot at the dining room table. The key is to be consistent as much as you can.
Don’t be Discouraged by the Limitations of your Space
Props are very effective tools that will initiate that brain priming effect. It could be a simple inspiring prop or colourful mat that gives your brain that visual cue. This is a great piece of advice while travelling. Bring along those items that put you in that mindset so you can transform your hotel room into your creative kingdom with ease. Charles Dickens was know to rearrange hotel room furniture to resemble his home study while on tour!
Check out some of these studios and spaces and how their owners stay creative.