I was working on the design below recently, and it suddenly struck me that the atmosphere we work in and the mood we create, can make a huge difference to how well and effectively we actually work.


Now I’m not talking about the physical workspace, although, of course, that’s hugely important too – I’m talking more about the ambience – the tone or spirit we surround ourselves with while we work, and the tools that can, surprisingly, help nourish and nurture our workflow.

And I’ve noticed it can make a huge difference.  For instance, while colouring a design – which can be a lengthy process for me – I tend to play a soothing, repetitive CD in the background.  My current favourite is Tropical Marshland – Instrumental Sounds of Nature.

There are thunderstorms and birds and birds and thunderstorms and that sets the perfect peaceful backdrop for me to work in.  It goes for about an hour and when it’s finished, I usually get up and move around, stretch, go for a walk – whatever.

But when I’m actually creating a design, I like to listen to something bouncy and energetic, so I find some music that suits the task.  It’s as though I’m trying to channel that energy from the music into me.  And it works!

Yet again, when I’m stitching, I can be at the machine for days, even weeks on end, so I tend to listen to audiobooks – long ones.  I’ve lost count of the number of audiobook CD’s I own, but I just love them.  My favourites are Dorothy L Sayers and her super sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey, Francis Durbridge who wrote the popular BBC Paul Temple detective series, Kerry Greenwood and her fabulous Phryne Fisher series and anything by Margery Allingham.  A little bit old-world, but highly entertaining.

It’s also a great time to listen to the many podcasts I subscribe to.  They’re interesting and informative, plus they have my attention while I’m machine-bound.

I also download audiobooks onto my phone, which is dangerously easy to do.  We live in an apartment so if I want to work and not disturb others, I can just put the buds in and off I go.

So just thinking about the atmosphere we work in, can actually be a tool to help boost our creativity and performance.  And, strange as it sounds, even listening to the same music or sounds can be a prompt to get into that creative mood.  It is for me.  As soon as I hear a thunderstorm and birds, I’m in the zone.

Give a thought to the ambience of your environment while you work.  You may just find that the anticipation of listening to a great story, or those sounds of nature may be a fantastic workflow enhancer.

I just love a good story and thunderstorms.  What do you love?

cathy jack coupland