This topic has been popping up more so in the last few weeks than at the beginning of the COVID lock-down phase, especially for those who continue to work from home. The reason is probably because at the beginning of lock-down we found ourselves unexpectedly in these new circumstances. In lots of cases our roles had turned to firefighting mode, keeping the show on the road, reading up on new regulations, new subsidies, new ways of delivery, new processes, and procedures. Our ‘place’ might have been the kitchen / dining table, a makeshift desk in a bedroom or a newly converted home office.
In lots of cases you were either given the new processes from higher management or you were making the best possible decision you could with the limited and ever-changing environment. In other words, there was not much time or space for ‘blue sky thinking’ or creating a productive ‘thinking environment’. If you were leading a team it was a balancing act of alleviating their concerns whether it be a change in role, no work, financial support, etc. with getting the job that affected the bottom line fulfilled.
As restrictions ease, and we have settled into a new way of working, we have discovered so much more about our mindset, our priorities, our intentions, our values, and beliefs. It now comes to the phase of needing a creative thinking environment more than ever. So where is that place for you? What creates a good thinking environment in terms of place?
If we take a look at the two extremes, on the one hand a make shift space where you have one clear line behind you so that zoom or team meeting video calls look okay and the participants can’t see the pile of ironing, the kids toys, the mountain of unsorted filing or the box of Christmas decorations in the corner and put ourselves in that space for a moment; there probably aren’t too many reading this piece that would think it would be conducive to a good thinking environment. A space where you could think about new ways of working, work on new products or services, focus on your customer needs and desires. On the other hand, if you think about a modern design award winning architecturally designed double height, floor to ceiling glass with clean lines, based on new innovative technologies that embraces minimalism and rejects ornament and sit in that space for a moment, you might also feel uncomfortable and stifled in your thinking. I know I certainly would feel awkward, out of place, cold and uncomfortable. So, what do we need?
We need a place that says, ‘you matter’, ‘you really do matter’. Yes, for some it is that clear desk, organised filing, uninterrupted time, comfortable chair with good natural light. For some it is a connection to nature, to sit in a space, go for a walk, jog or climb allowing thoughts to flow from one idea to the next and make connections as they are jotted in a notebook. For some it is that take away cup of coffee sitting in your car that guarantees your thinking environment. If I asked 100 people, I’m sure I’d get at least 70 different answers, all tweaked to take different personalities, social circumstance and home / work life into consideration.
The trick is to be able to create that thinking environment in different ways at different times of your day and week. So, the challenge for the weekend is to think about your thinking environment, can you identify the components that say back to you ‘you matter’? Can you identify any tasks you could prioritise over the weekend to create that environment? Do you need to de-clutter, clean, plan, prioritise, make space? Or maybe for you, it is just to be grateful for your thinking environment and acknowledge how sacred a space that is.
If you need to make changes, commit to making the first one now and watch the ripple effect, wishing you a productive week in your new thinking environment. Look out for yourself and for others, take care, Máire x
If you want to create a thinking environment, your place needs to say ‘you matter’