How to Set Up a Productive Workspace

August 26, 2016

Today’s minisode is all about how to set up a productive workspace. We’re sharing how our own workspaces have evolved over time and things we like in our environment to put us in the boss mindset and do the work.

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This Episode Brought to You By:
"Productivity is not so much about my space as it is about my mindset."
- Kathleen Shannon

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In this episode, the Your Ideal Day worksheet was mentioned. Download your copy here!


Today's minisode question comes from Being Boss Clubhouse member, Amy:

Amy EatonAmy is a brand & editorial photographer based in Toronto helping creative entrepreneurs create killer visual content for their websites, blogs, and social media sites. Whether taking the images herself or teaching creative entrepreneurs how to rock their own brand photography, Amy's goal to work with her clients to cultivate a beautiful collection of images that communicate just how awesome their brand really is, while increasing sales and generating buzz. Check out more at

More from Kathleen

Braid Creative

More from Emily

Almanac Supply Co.


Emily Thompson 0:00
Hello and welcome to being boss. This minisode is all about how to set up a productive workspace.

Kathleen Shannon 0:12
Today we have a question from one of our clubhouse members, Amy Eaton. Here is her question.

Amy Eaton 0:20
Hey, Emily, and Kathleen. This is Amy Eaton. I'm a brand photographer based in Toronto. I work with creative entrepreneurs from all over, either taking photos of their stuff myself, or I also am introducing a huge learning component to my business in which I help creative entrepreneurs learn how to take their own photos and be really awesome at that. So that's me. My question for you is, I am in the process of setting up a new home office I've just recently moved. And I have a blank canvas in which to work and I'm wondering how do you set up your workspaces to be the most productive that you can be because I am excited to get started in my office, but I want to set it up with the least amount of distractions and just have it so that I can really focus in on work, which is a challenge for me. So that means no Netflix in the office. But I'm wondering what else you have to suggest I got a whiteboard and my chalkboard method is going up. But other than that I'm a little bit at a loss. So I would love to hear what you have to say about your workspaces and how you can recommend making workspaces as productive as possible for at home creative entrepreneurs. Thank you.

Kathleen Shannon 1:39
This question is super timely, because I just changed my at home workspace and it is not like the most productive, desirable space. So I am inspired by this question to make that space more productive for myself. So I want to hear from you, Emily, we've done the ideal day worksheet and we'll include that in the show notes. But I want to think about like an ideal workspace and what ingredients go into that. So what is your ideal workspace?

Emily Thompson 2:10
My ideal workspace is one like uncluttered which is funny Corey editing this is gonna laugh because he knows what my desk looks like on the occasion. So does my desk get messy, but my general workspace is uncluttered. I also really love plants. In my workspace, I spend a lot of time here in my little hole. So being reminded there's life outside of this little hole is really helpful, helpful, I have a couple of plants that I really enjoy, enjoy having around within view. Also just my tools within reach. As like an online entrepreneur, I don't need a lot of things I need a computer, I have a monster iMac that I cannot live without

Kathleen Shannon 2:57
bad habit of crossing your legs,

Emily Thompson 2:59
right. So I recently changed my workspace from a traditional desk where I was sitting in an office chair to a floor desk or I'm sitting on a poof because I have a really bad habit of sitting with my legs crossed, like crisscross applesauce, like crisscross applesauce. And I'm in a computer chair was kind of wrecking my knees. I was still racking my knees. But now I have to worry about like in the entrance and my thighs, which is this horrible thing that happens from the chair anyway. And so now I can sit because here's the real truth. I'm so short that my legs dangle in an office. So as always really uncomfortable with my feet wouldn't touch the floor. So I recently made that little transition and I love it a ton one and that it's more comfortable for me to sit in to it's almost not comfortable for me to sit. So I'm sitting here less often. Right, I'm encouraged to get up more, which is not a bad thing. So I say simple, beautiful, some some, some greenery and all of my tools within region and everything else gone. That's my ideal productive workspace.

Kathleen Shannon 4:11
I'm kind of like a dog that can sleep anywhere. I feel like I can work from anywhere like just give me my laptop and I can open it up and start working. And for the longest time I was working in my breakfast nook in my kitchen. And so I okay, I should mention here also that we've both had studio spaces. And we've worked from home currently we both work from home. in separate places people always ask us this too for in the same place we are in Emily's in Chattanooga and I'm currently in Oklahoma City. We're working from home. So I had a studio and then I started working from home after I had my baby because I was always really hungry. So I was working out of my breakfast nuts so that I had the quickest access to food possible.

Emily Thompson 4:59
Do you think this makes Be a joke and it's not it's

Kathleen Shannon 5:01
not a joke. I'm so hungry. Um, but recently I moved my office up into my house is kind of split level and we have this landing way upstairs that's almost like a, it's not quite a hallway. It's like a little landing that connects all of our bedrooms, the little nook, it's a little knuck. So I bought a desk from West Elm that looks all mid century modern, and it's kind of like a minty green, like vintage mint green color. And I got like a cool little sconce light. But what I'm really needing to focus on moving forward is more good lighting. The lighting in here is kind of not great. plants, it is kind of dark in this little landing way because all the windows are connected to the bedrooms, but not a lot of light is getting into here. So I wonder if I might even fake it with like some cool wallpaper like some palm tree like wallpaper. Yes. So maybe I'll fake it there. Um, and I love the idea of elevating really mundane spaces. So if anyone has been following me for a while my old blog, which is all about redecorating my home, I painted my hallway in black and white stripes. And this is like before Pinterest. And before that was like no big deal before it was totally basic to paint your hallway and black and white stripes. I did it first. Maybe trendsetter. Anyway. Um, so now that I have this new workspace, though, I'm excited about keeping it pretty uncluttered and minimal. And oh, here's what was happening in my kitchen nook. It's a tiny little table, and I had a basket that I would throw all my notebooks, and even my podcasting mic into and so I'm constantly having to like, re screw my mic back together and getting my pop screen back on there. So I'm really excited about having a dedicated place where all my stuff can actually live. Like I've been so transient with my office, that now I'm excited to have just one place. Anyway, um, art is really important. So I'm going to hang some fiber art on the wall. But I'm really into this wallpapering idea. I think I might look into that this week. And then obviously, the chalkboard. So those of you who are not familiar with the chalkboard method, we did an entire episode on it. And we'll include the chalkboard method PDF, in our show notes if you want to learn how to make your own chalkboard. So just go to being boss club to download that. And access to food again, like having water and food available to me all the time is really important. But as far as just productivity, I think it's not so much about my space as it is about my mindset. And kind of the habits and routines I've put in place to stay focused only because I have been working from so many different places.

Emily Thompson 7:54
True that will and see and mine, I'll go back to tools like I can, I'm less able to work from anywhere. Like I hate working from the laptop, like something about that limb. This is like the developer in me that needs a big screen and like arm's length and all the things I can't work on a laptop. So I need my tools, I need to have my like big screen in front of me. But really, it's pretty basic, like I don't same, I don't need a lot of things to get my work done. It's more about being able to just sit down and do the work. I've worked in some pretty some pretty not cute places in my life. And I was still able to completely and utterly do the work and get the job done. So again, maybe a little less about productive workspace and about productive mindset and whatever space you are in. But if you have the pleasure of making it your own, add some plants, get your tools within reach and otherwise leave it uncluttered so that you can focus on what needs to be done.

Kathleen Shannon 8:52
What about music do you listen to music while you're working?

Emily Thompson 8:56
I used to a whole lot and it's funny that she said something about no next Netflix because I'm totally guilty of putting on like some TV like in the corner of my screen when I'm like especially if I'm working late at night something about if I having to work late at night I need something else going on. So even right now I have an episode of Doctor Who is not going at the moment. But I have a little episode of Doctor Who in the corner of my screen waiting on me. And I don't like watch it. It's kind of like white noise. So I've been doing that lately less music a little more Doctor Who but I'll also go days and days without listening to a single thing.

Kathleen Shannon 9:33
I know me too. I think that in this new workspace though maybe I'll get myself a little Bose Bluetooth speaker and listen to some good music all day.

Emily Thompson 9:43
You're about to bust some shit out. Aren't you

Kathleen Shannon 9:45
I really am good. I'm the only thing I'm worried about. I'm kind of into Fung Shui. And like the Yeah, positioning of things.

Emily Thompson 9:54
Yeah. Is it all wrong?

Kathleen Shannon 9:55
Well, I'm right next to the bathroom. Like Shit in the litter box. I can smell it. Smells good. Smells good smells in your workspace. Yeah, maybe I'll get some love. Or Yeah, a good candle. Oh, my sister does this she'll light a candle. And it's kind of her signifier that it's time to work. Oh,

Emily Thompson 10:17
she's cute. Of course she does that she

Kathleen Shannon 10:19
has. She has an ideal workspace. So you guys, we posted it on the braid blog and we'll include a link to it in the show notes. But my sister had an entire writing shed built in her backyard.

Emily Thompson 10:32
dreamy it has a loft and a skylight and a TV. It's amazing. It's so dreamy. I'm gonna come work in your shed, Tara. Alright,

Kathleen Shannon 10:45
thanks again. Amy, for your question. It's been really fun hanging with you in the clubhouse and we'll see you there.

Emily Thompson 10:52
Hey, their bosses. Kathleen and I are honored to be speaking adventure pop a conference for creative entrepreneurs in New Orleans in September. That's right, Kathleen and I are hitting the Crescent City, my very favorite city again, and we're hoping you'll join us. Venture pop is a two day conference held September 17 and 18th. Designed to gather creatives with the guts and grit to grow their business sounds like a place for bosses to me. And to make it even more boss join Kathleen and I for a being boss meetup on Saturday evening a V event. purchasing a ticket for vendor pop is more than an excuse for a lively weekend in New Orleans. It's an investment in you and your business. Join us for two days of influential speakers and activities built to invigorate and educate find your community grow your business. To learn more visit being boss dot club slash venture pop. We hope to see you there. Did you like this minisode Be sure to check us out on our website at being boss dot club. There you can find more from being boss including our full episodes minisodes and blog posts. And while you're there, be sure to sign up for our mailing list so that you can get access to behind the scenes and exclusive content from Kathleen and myself to help you be more boss in your work and life. Do the work be boss