Creating an Environment for R.E.A.L. Success

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Creating an Environment for R.E.A.L. Success

In two months I'll be celebrating the four year anniversary of my business... it seems fitting to think about my resolutions for my business in 2015 as well as the one's that I try to set for my business anniversary. This year, I've decided to combine them into one set of goals. And they're all about being a R.E.A.L. Success.




I recently saw an acronym for the word "real:"






I decided that those were the four areas that I would focus on for 2015... in my business and in my personal life. But here, I'd like to talk about business and this month I'm going to reflect on Environment. 


A successful work environment is certainly going to look and feel unique for each person — after all, we are all unique! I've had a few pitfalls along the way, trying to create the best environment for me. When I started DFA Creative four years ago, I took over our "living room" for my office. So, the first that that had to change was the furniture. While the space was designed to be a living room, we really used it more as a quite place to read and/or listen to music, pray or meditate. It was certainly a multi-function space, and that needed to end. I'm much to easily distracted to work in a space filled with books and music... so, the comfy reading chair, and my favorite literature had to go elsewhere, and my music had to be hidden so it could be accessed when I needed it for inspiration or a mental break, but wouldn't be tempted to take a break to listen to tunes.


So, now I had an empty room—that wouldn't work either. I did some online shopping to find the perfect desk that fit my workstyle and a comfortable chair and a good lamp so I would have a well-lit environment. I tried my desk in front of the window for a while, but I felt like I was in a fish bowl. So, I re-arranged my office a couple of times until I found the perfect spot... I could look up and out the window if I turned my head slightly, but I wasn't sitting right in the middle of the bay window where I had felt like I was on display.


I added a small file cabinet and a couple of bookshelves with doors for storage of office supplies. My environment was really starting to come together. And it stayed that way for about two years. But then, as my business grew, I found that my environment wasn't really working for me any longer. Oh sure, my desk and the rest of my office furniture were fine. I'd upgraded to a laser printer to provide higher quality proofing capabilities for graphic design projects, but everything else was pretty much the same.


What wasn't working for me was my lack of an organizational system. For the first couple of years it wasn't that big of a deal. I didn't have that many clients and I could easily remember what I needed to do for whom or make a quick to-do list of that day's projects. But now, the client base had grown and I almost had a couple of deadlines slip through the cracks. Clearly, my environment needed a change. I know that I require a project management system that is highly visible — if it isn't in front of me all the time, I will forget about it and I'm no better off than before I had a system. I settled on a pretty simple organizational tool. A laminated dry-erase board (really a laminated sheet) that attaches to the wall with columns that I can designate for various clients. I can use a dry erase pen to make notes on it and I've incorporated various colors of Post-it® notes. Everything is visible all the time, I can prioritize projects on the fly and no more missed deadlines.


My environment isn't what it started out as four years ago, and I'll bet your's evolves to meet your needs as well. Re-evaluating my office environment has helped me stay organized and focused. And, there's one other thing that's been added to the office environment too... about a year ago, I added "Dance Breaks." In the middle of the afternoon, I take a 3-5 minute break from work, blast the music and dance it out! That's my solution to that mid-afternoon energy crash.

Anne-Marie Farrow
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