Ep #66: How Your Home Impacts Your Success

Have you engineered your home or workspace for optimal efficiency and productivity? This week, I want to shine a big old flashlight on a conversation we really need to have if you’re struggling to get the results you want.

This concept is something I am so excited to share with you, and I’m exploring how you can work on your environment to decrease stress while increasing productivity, health and wellness, and your profitability. This could be the reason you’re not having the success you want, and making these tweaks is going to absolutely transform your life.

Listen in this week as I combine all of my passions into one exciting episode and dive into how you can design your home to accelerate your success. I hope you take away some tips from today and start to design your spaces to accommodate and promote activities that will help you be your best, most healthy, and the happiest you’ve ever been.

If you loved this concept and want to keep this conversation going, make sure to join us in our free Design You Podcast community on Facebook! I’m in there with guests of the show and we answer questions you might have and all sorts of other fun things. See you there!

What You'll Learn From This Episode

  • The goals of the WELL Building Institute.
  • 4 areas we need to be paying more attention to when it comes to our environment.
  • The effect of having physical clutter in your home or office.
  • 2 areas in your environment that can cause you a lot of stress.
  • How your home may be preventing optimum productivity.
  • Why making your workspace more attractive is worth doing.
  • How color psychology plays a role in your space.
  • The best colors that promote energy but that are also nurturing.
  • Why I have systems and workflows designed into my environment.
  • How lighting can affect your mood and health and wellness.
  • Why I want at least one “idea incubator” space in my home.

Featured On The Show

Full Episode Transcript

You are listening to The Design You Podcast with Tobi Fairley, episode number 66.

Welcome to The Design You Podcast, a show where interior designers and creatives learn to say no to busy and say yes to more health, wealth, and joy. Here is your host, Tobi Fairley.

Hey friends. Today we’re talking about your home. Well, really your home or your office. What we’re actually talking about is where home and business success really meet. And even if you don’t work from home like I do, your home greatly impacts your productivity and your profitability and your habits and so much more.

And I’ve really been geeking out on this concept for a while. I’m sort of a junkie for anything that is self-help or business related, and this topic is really both. And yes, I do love interior design and I even love just the pretty parts of it, but I especially love the part that makes our homes more functional and organized and creates a better quality of life and wellness for all of us.

And I don’t think this part of the environment, the importance of the environment and the importance of interior design in our overall success really gets near enough attention. So today, I’m shining a flashlight on it, friends. You know how I love to do that. I love to take something that I think is important and really bring it to your attention. So that’s what we’re going to do today.

And here’s something you should know about me if you don’t already; I absolutely love to learn. And anything that I can do to feel more educated and more confident in a particular topic, then I am all over that learning, that process. And there’s a reason why I have three degrees – yes, I have an interior design degree and an accounting degree and a Master’s in business, so an MBA, and there’s also a reason that I have a life coaching certification and I have a health coaching certification.

And now, I’m doing something else. I’m studying to take the WELL AP exam, which is a certification by the International WELL Building Institute. So it’s all related to the green building institute and lead design, all those things, but it’s taking that into the area of human health and wellness. So the International WELL Building Institute has the certification and their goal or their aim is to improve human health and wellbeing through the built environment.

So seriously y’all, this is the intersection of all of my education in design and business and wellness and mindset all coming together and yeah, it’s a little nerdy and yeah, it’s really technical the stuff that is involved in the exam, but I am so super geeked out and excited about it. So let me tell you about the exam. You may not care about it at all but I just want you to understand it and then we’re going to get into what I think is important about the environment that you live in and how it impacts your productivity and your profitability and your wellness and a whole bunch of stuff like that.

But you’ll see how it’s related, so let me tell you about the exam. So here’s what it covers. It includes air, water, meaning the quality of your air, quality of your water, nourishment, literally y’all, nourishment. What you eat and how your environment can support that. It covers lighting, it covers fitness, it covers comfort, including not only comfort like the temperature and that has to do with the air quality, but also the chair you sit in, so comfort for your body and ergonomics.

And then the last thing it covers is mindset. So mental health and how that is impacted with the environment. So it aims to protect the human body systems like, all of them including the cardiovascular system, the digestive system, the immune system, the nervous system, the reproductive system, respiratory system, the endocrine system, which I think is our hormones.

I mean literally, all the body systems y’all. So who knew that the build environment had such an impact on all of the systems of the human body? And I knew this but nobody’s really talking about it so I’m so super-duper crazy excited that this is a thing now. So we’ve come a long way, right? We’ve come so far that there’s actually a certification for including health and wellness and issues like fitness and mental health and food and nutrition and air and water and lighting all in the build environment. This is huge.

And you may not even realize how big this is, but trust me, it’s really, really big. And sure, the exam mostly applies to commercial properties because those are the ones that are most regulated and so that’s what a lot of this will show up as with the WELL AP exam and certified WELL AP professionals consulting on commercial buildings. But there is nothing that says these same concepts and standards can’t be applied to the residential market.

So I have already for a few years now, before I even knew this exam existed, been creating content and really my point of view on these topics. And you may have even heard me talk back a few months ago in December, again, before I knew this exam even existed. It’s been around for a little while. But if it tells you anything, there’s only one person in the whole state of Arkansas where I live that has this certification, I think. If not, it’s two, but it’s literally almost nobody.

So it’s relatively new, but before I even knew about that, you may have heard me talk I think back in December I did a podcast on your environment and is it supporting you. So we’re going to dig deeper into some of that today and really tie it into things like productivity and profitability. Money, y’all.

So I was already headed in this direction with my individual certifications and really tying together interior design with life coaching and wellness coaching, and now I have even more information and credibility based on this exam. So it’s really fun to me that all of my passions are coming together. Cool, right?

So the goal of that WELL building standard, which is the standard, the code that is written that the test covers includes things like – here’s the results that they’re trying to get for people. And business owners and just in general humans, we’re trying to get increased productivity, which means for a lot of us increased profits. Their goal, one of them is to decrease stress, to have better sleep, better nutrition, and I think that the built environment also determines or plays a role at least in our habits, so the way we follow through and show up for ourselves, which I talk about a lot, and our effectiveness just in general, both at work and at home.

Now, one of the other things that I love is when there are other things I’m reading or studying that tie in with something that I’m super excited about. You know, that happens when you start to focus on a certain thing in your life, suddenly you see them everywhere. So you’re like, I want a new car, now everybody has that car. I want to have a baby, now it seems like everybody’s pregnant.

Well, that’s kind of how I feel like today that so much of what I’m reading and studying and learning is tied to this concept, and I think that’s a beautiful thing because it means that we are at a point in time where there is so much attention that’s coming to health and wellness and one of the things that has also been a really hot topic lately is the idea of habits.

And there have been several books on habits. I’ve probably read all of them. There are some really good ones, but my favorite, favorite one – and really, it’s one of my favorite personal development books of all, of all time is a book called Atomic Habits by James Clear. And what’s so fun to me about this book is there’s a huge portion of it that talks about the environment that you live in and what it does to your habits, and really your success.

So I was reading this book, Atomic Habits, and I was reading all the stuff he was talking about with your environment and I was like, oh my gosh, yes, finally someone who gets the role that the place you spend your time plays on your success and your follow-through. And James does a really good job of explaining the why and really, kind of the what of the process of having your home or your environment support your habits.

He doesn’t really go into the how part as much as I want to go into the how part because that is to me, I mean, it’s like yeah – and there’s really good information in this book. I’m not making light of any of it. It’s so good and if you haven’t read Atomic Habits, please go read it or go listen to it. But he does talk about things like visual cues to make you follow through on something and I’m all good with that. I’m like yes, leave your medicine out so you take it.

But guess what? The designer part of me that also knows that visual clutter is a huge detriment, there’s some conflict there between visual cues of leaving things out so you can follow through with it and the visual clutter and the toll that that takes on your mood and your emotional wellbeing and your stress level and your productivity.

So this is where I love bridging the gap between all of these things that I’m crazy about in the areas of wellness and health and the environment and bringing them all together and helping people figure out the how too. So that’s what today’s podcast is all about. So thank you James for bringing so much attention to this in your book, Atomic Habits, which is the bomb, but now I want to go deeper and I’ve said twice already that I’m geeking out on this, but y’all, I’m super geeking out on this.

I love this information because the part of me who not only wants a beautiful, functional, stress-free home, really also is the same person who wants to make the absolutely most impact with my talents and my gifts while making the absolutely most amount of money while doing that. So if I can bring together beauty and de-stressing with adding value and making money, then I am the happiest little camper – speaking of camp, it’s summer camp for my daughter this week, but I’m a happy camper if I can make that happen.

So you’re going to hear more about this in the future, I promise. This is not the only episode you’re going to hear about this, but I want to just start to show you what some of the – really, it’s four. Four areas that I think we really need to be paying attention to with our environment and this is so important and could be the reason why you are not having the success and making the amount of money that you want to make in your life.

So there again, will be many episodes on this but let’s dig in today’s episode and talk about those four areas that I want to cover. So here’s one more thing that I sort of want to paint a picture of for you for a second. So again, when you’re thinking about things that you’re hearing a lot about out in the world, and so I know a ton of you have heard all about Marie Kondo’s organization method. The KonMari method. You’ve heard all about Marie. She’s like a big deal all of a sudden.

And I love organizing and I think that it plays a role in what I’m talking about today, and then there’s another guy that some of you have heard about named Dave Asprey and he’s the guy who created bulletproof coffee. You may have heard me or seen me on my Instagram talk about drinking bulletproof coffee. But Dave’s whole thing is like, how to hack your body for top performance.

He gets into a lot of this stuff too like what lighting takes a toll on your body and all of the stuff really that this test covers. He talks not so much necessarily about how to tie it then back to productivity or habits, but he’s just thinking about it from your body and wanting to live a long time. How do you hack your body? Your mitochondria, all the things in your body to be at your best self.

And then there’s Brendon Burchard who I love, love, love and he’s a motivational speaker and a high-performance coach and he has that great book called High Performance Habits, another book on habits, and he talks about really where people become their – how they become their best self, like what habits they follow through on all the time consistently to become the best version of themselves.

So I’m thinking of myself and I’m like, I’m in the middle of this triangle between Marie Kondo and Dave Asprey with his body hacks, and Brendon Burchard’s habits, and actually let’s throw back in James Clear and his Atomic Habits because that really plays a role too. And so I feel like I’m the person, the girl to bring all of these ideas together and really I can look at how to hack your home so that you can have better health, better performance, better habits, better profits and pretty much just all the way around more success.

So let’s get into those four areas that I want to think about in our homes that have the potential to make or break our success. And for a lot of us, our homes are holding us back and we don’t even know it. We have no idea. We’re looking at our diet maybe or our lack of exercise if we’re not moving our bodies, or we’re thinking about some business tool or technique that we’re missing – heck, I’ll talk about that a lot too.

If you don’t have digital marketing, dude, your business isn’t going anywhere in 2019. But how many of us are really sitting around going I think it’s my home, I think my home is holding me back from my biggest success? Not a lot of people. That’s why I want to talk about it. So let’s talk about the first area that I want to discuss and that is stress.

So we hear about stress all the time. I mean heck, we say we’re stressed all the time, right? I’m so stressed, I’m so stressed out. Everybody’s stressed out all the time. Or maybe we don’t say I’m stressed. Maybe we say in another way like I’m so busy, or I’m so tired, I’m so overwhelmed. But ultimately, all of those things are really code for I am so stressed.

And we think that stress is coming from our work maybe, or from our relationships, this person stresses me out, my kid stresses me out, my spouse stresses me out, my boss stresses me out. And yeah, those play a huge role in stress. I mean honestly, the real answer to all of this is our thoughts that we’re thinking about those people are stressing us out and it’s the same way with our home. The thoughts about our home.

But here’s the thing; we have a lot of thoughts about our home that we don’t even realize we’re thinking that are actually causing stress. And if they’re not remedied, then they can be a long-term source of stress and it can really hold you back from your best self, from your best work, from your best relationships and the whole thing.

So if you have to go on vacation, which a lot of us do to de-stress, then I can guarantee you that your home and your work spaces aren’t working for you at the level they could be if you’re literally going I’ve got to get out of here, I’ve got to have a vacation, I’ve got to get some of this stress down. So that’s one of the first signs you can start to think about.

So what is it in your home that’s stressing you? So first, there’s clutter. And yeah, Marie Kondo thankfully again has turned the big old spotlight on this issue, but I think that we now sort of poke fun at the KonMari method that she created and we’re not really realizing how much not being organized is adding to our stress and really even impacting our finances.

So physical clutter equals both visual clutter and mental clutter. So it’s really all three. If you’ve got clutter everywhere, you may not even realize how just seeing it can stress you out and just dealing with it and feeling its presence around you can really add a lot of clutter to your mind. And all of those things, physical, mental, visual, they all increase our stress level. And how do they do that?

Well, let’s talk about some ways. So first, there’s the fact that you now have to add a lot more items on your to-do list to deal with all that clutter, right? Think about it. The more stuff you have, the harder it is to keep your home or your office clean. So you’re looking at the clutter and you’re like ugh, I got to clean the house and I got to do the laundry and I got to put that away and my suitcase isn’t even unpacked from three weeks ago, and there’s so much clutter on the kitchen countertops.

Just going in there makes me anxious, but I don’t have time to clean it or put it away or my family doesn’t put it away and literally, it starts this whole dialogue and adding items to your to-do list just by having the clutter. So there’s that. And it’s harder than ever to keep your home and your office clean, and how many of us have a lot of extra time to clean and to straighten and to put things away and even if we did, which we don’t, how many of us say oh, I absolutely love to spend my extra time cleaning and putting stuff away? Almost nobody, right?

So there’s that. Then there’s also the lost time and money spent looking for things that don’t have a specific place to live in your house. So listen to this. You may have heard me say this before, but Americans spend almost three days a year in time looking for things that are lost and they spend billions of dollars replacing things that are lost every single year. So good grief, your clutter could greatly be impacting your profits, your bottom, or your finances.

Your bottom line. I mean, it can actually impact your profits too because if the mental clutter keeps you from being able to focus, which we’ll talk about in a second, that’s an issue. But just the having to spend money to replace things that you can’t find, that impacts your finances in a big way. And then there’s the whole toll that the losing of something takes on us emotionally, and I know that you know what I mean.

Because how fun is it to lose something, especially – why is it that any time you lose something, you’re already late to be somewhere, right? So most of us get super angry or worse and have meltdowns and fits and yell at our families and just literally lose our cool when we can’t find something. And again, it’s so much worse when you’re late for work or getting your kids to school.

And again, these seem to go hand in hand, right? And there’s a reason for that. It’s not by accident and if we’re flying by the seat of our pants with keeping clutter in control in our house. We often might be the type of people who also aren’t managing our schedule very well, but even so, being late for work and then you can’t find your keys or your phone or your shoes or your kid can’t find their shoes or their homework or whatever, the list of things that you’re looking for in those moments just goes on and on and on, but it takes a major emotional toll.

And studies show that it takes hours to recover from that. So for your kids to recover when you drop them off at school or for you to recover once you get to work, takes a long time for that anxiousness and that anger and that frustration to go away. Not to mention, how much time we lost looking for the things and how much money we spent to replace them. So that’s all a big deal.

And then the third thing to think about when it comes to physical clutter is the anxiety that that physical and visual clutter creates for most of us in general. And we might not even know why we’re anxious, but if you’re anxious a lot in your home or your office space, it very much could be the clutter that’s the problem because it’s definitely harder to relax when spaces seem busy and they’re not tidy and they don’t seem clean and again, whether you’re the person like me that means more items on your to-do list, which we talked about earlier or not, even if you can just leave it there and forget it and be like I’m not cleaning that up and I got to rest or I got other things to do, you still don’t know how much anxiety it’s adding to your life every single day.

And clutter isn’t the only things in our home that play a role in our stress level. They’re just one thing. But a poorly designed or dated space can exacerbate clutter, but just in and of itself that can add so much stress because think about too, if your space is poorly designed, if it’s dated, if it doesn’t accommodate the way you live today, what comes with that a lot of times?

Well, lack of storage space, which is why there’s clutter everywhere, an inefficient layout a lot of times of a room makes it so much harder to function, or it takes longer to function and that adds stress. Let me give you an example. So essentially, when I really got into this concept of what our environment does to us, it was when I purchased the home that we now live in.

So we’ve now been here for going on six years, but we lived here for two years, then we moved out for about a year, and then we’ve been back in two or three years since we renovated our home, and a lot if you followed that process. But in the two years that I lived here prior to renovating and remodeling, I was literally stressed out every single day because of my home and the way it didn’t function.

So the kitchen cabinetry was an issue, it wasn’t even deep enough for my plates in the upper cabinets, and the shelving was not adjustable, so my large pots wouldn’t fit and the lower cabinets weren’t either, and so that meant I was trekking to the garage or to the attic or left a pot sitting on the counter because I didn’t want to go back to the garage or the attic just to cook meals.

And that’s a big deal. It may sound silly but it’s not. This is the kind of stuff that starts to really take a toll on you. So it’s inefficient, it takes more time, it makes you angry and frustrated, and that is just one little detail of what wasn’t working in my space. The layout of spaces were not effective at all, it didn’t accommodate my husband and my daughter and I all wanting to cook or be in a room at the same time.

There was a total lack of storage all through the house, which now has been remedied by some very, very focused attention to detail because I really basically did a case study while we lived here and I was saying, where does stuff pile up on the countertop or in the corner of a room or on the bedside table or in the bathroom counters. What was it that’s not working and how does that impact me and how can good design remedy these issues?

And by remedying those issues, let me tell you friends, it actually made a huge difference in what we’re talking about today. My stress level, my productivity, my profitability, my wellness and health, all of those things were impacted by that environment and by fixing them with good design. So think about that. Think of all the things that don’t work in your space or in your home, whether it’s your home or your office or your home office. Think about those things and how they make you crazy.

Broken drawers, rooms that don’t accommodate your furniture very well or enough people that you want to be able to seat or host or spend time with in your spaces. Not enough closet space. Bad lighting like fluorescent lighting that really drains you or not enough task lighting to see what you’re doing. Think about it.

Think of the kitchen. Maybe you don’t have under counter lighting or it’s not the right kind of under counter lighting, and so you’re trying to chop veggies like you don’t really like to idea of a stressed out lady with a knife cutting veggies in the dark, right? So I mean, it’s actually a health hazard in more ways than you can imagine, but the stress level is the thing that really comes to mind. So what are those things that aren’t working for you that are holding you back in ways that you didn’t even really think about or notice?

I mean, there’s the issue of poor kitchen layout that makes the whole process of cooking harder and take longer, there’s poor ventilation in the house or temperature control so you’re always freezing or you’re always sweating, or you’re some of both. I mean, that’s really stressful. There’s the whole lack of interior insulation or building materials if you want to call it that way.

So I think of it as thin walls where too much sound carries across the house, so that can be an issue, especially if you have kids and you don’t have a space to go unwind or detox and control the noise. That’s a huge problem. What about – really I think about the bathroom in our space. So the kitchen and the bathroom are two areas where you can really have a lot of stress from this situation.

And so I think of before we renovated, the kitchen counters were dated and they were really low, so it was hard on my back. So we had that issue, and then we had no storage space in there either, so again, everything’s on the counter. Or what about when there’s not a great space to control your laundry or your trash and it all piles up?

These things need to be out of sight and contained, laundry and trash and stuff, our belongings, they really need to be out of sight and contained for less visual clutter and less stress because of it. But poor home design doesn’t always allow for that, right? There are so many, many opportunities for poor design to be fixed and to eliminate stress that we don’t even realize is taking a huge toll on us.

So all of those are examples of what our home does to stress us, but what about even taking it a step further and saying what could our home be doing to reduce stress. So it’s not just eliminating that stress, but taking it a whole other step further and saying can our home be the tool that helps us reduce stress in day-to-day life. The busyness and the deadlines and the work stress and all of that that we bring home with us, even if we don’t work from home, how can our home play a role in reducing that?

And the same kind of topics that we’re already addressing, function, layout, those are going to potentially play a role in stress reduction. Think about it like this; what if you had certain zones in your home or your space to detox or decompress, to rest, to meditate? What about spaces that really support exercise because exercise is a huge stress reliever. Maybe you think I should get to the gym but you don’t and you haven’t made a space in your home or your environment so that you can really workout.

It’s not as hard as you think. And you don’t have to have a huge amount of space to incorporate a lot of these things that can really help de-stress you. So yeah, having a beautiful home in and of itself and comfortable spaces can take stress away. Having spaces to really connect with those people that you love and spend quality time with them, that can reduce your stress. It can take your blood pressure down several notches.

And if you’re not feeling like you have those spaces in your home because of the clutter, or the layout, or you just really don’t have rooms that feel good and nurturing where everybody wants to connect, again, that can be taking a toll on you and your work and your bottom line. So there are dozens or more – I mean hundreds really, I’m sure, of ways our home can be our ally against stress but for many of us, we’ve never even thought about it that way, and so it becomes part of the stress.

So sure, curbing clutter and improving design, they’re actually one of the easy ways to reduce stress, especially since those are things in our control. And a lot of times, our office maybe isn’t as much in our control or it’s harder to make dietary changes and things like that that reduce stress, even though they can be done and your home can help support that too in the way of habits and making it easier for you.

But literally, just improving the design, the layout, the function, updating things and getting rid of clutter all by itself could take away a ton of stress and that is something that any of us can do even without spending a lot of money if it comes to the organizing piece. Yes, maybe renovating might be a little bit expensive, but you can do simple things in your home like literally having the right type of scented candle or essential oil diffuser.

Think lavender, friends, could reduce stress and how do you incorporate that into your bedroom design or into your office design? So it doesn’t have to be moving walls, which can be expensive or getting all new cabinetry. Those can certainly play a huge role in this. But it might just mean a trip to the container store to get it organized and buying the right kind of candle to start you down this path of creating an environment that supports you and that reduces your stress.

So this stuff is super important and it makes a difference in how you and your family show up every day at work and at school and in relationships and in life, and that’s why I’m talking about it. That’s why I’m literally obsessed with this topic because we all spend so much time thinking about how much stress there is in our life and how hard things are, and there are simple things that we can do that actually, as silly as some of them may sound, make a difference.

So second to stress and your home adding stress to your life, the next topic of the four that I’m discussing today that I want to talk about is productivity and how your home impacts your productivity. So maybe you do get that your home stresses you out. Maybe that’s an easy one for you, like, absolutely it does, Tobi, and I want Marie Kondo to come over pronto. And maybe you know getting organized is step number one for you.

But you likely aren’t realizing that those goals that you might be missing in your life, the things you haven’t followed through on, the things that you keep wishing for and wanting like being healthier or losing weight or making more money, maybe those are also not happening partly due to your environment. So how does your home prevent productivity?

Again, not just how does it support it, but first of all, let’s just see how it could be preventing it and we don’t even know. And first of all, I want you to think about productivity and what makes us productive. Well, for a lot of us, it’s an ability to focus and to focus on the things that make the biggest difference. As they say, that move the needle the most, whether it be in our life, in our relationships, or in our finances.

So productivity, if it’s about focus, how is your focus at home? Especially if you work from home like I do. So again, clutter might be one of the issues that’s keeping you from being able to focus, might be a distraction that’s keeping you from following through. It can be a distraction just because when there’s too much to do around the house, it’s hard to get focused on your work.

I work with a lot of working moms and I coach a lot of moms and they’re always saying to me well, Tobi, how do I be more effective at home because I have all these distractions, because I find myself doing the laundry or doing the dishes or dealing with my kids and I don’t have a space where I can really get focused on my work that’s uninterrupted and this can be changed by the way that you design your home and how you’re going to use what rooms.

So there’s a lot you can do to create a space where you can get focused. And if your workspace or work zone is either too hot or too cold or too noisy or too bright or too dark, yes, this sounds like a Dr. Seuss book, but if it’s all those things or maybe it has too many electronics and a TV in there, which is going to make you want to procrastinate with those instead of being focused, or maybe if it’s in a high traffic area or hub of your home, like you’re trying to work off the kitchen counter, that could be a huge issue with your ability to focus and be productive on the things that you need to be getting done in your life.

So again, things that change the bottom line, things that really move the needle for you financially or just reaching new goals. So it’s super true that this stuff can matter. So you can actually engineer your space or your layout or how you use rooms differently to promote focus depending on your own personal preferences.

So the most important step to me is the awareness step, so becoming aware of the distractions and the things that are keeping you from focusing when you’re trying to get stuff done. So think about what spaces you’re in and where you’re trying to make that stuff happen, and what all the interruptions are.

And I have talked a lot recently in social media posts and even on some podcasts about legit excuses, and yeah, all of those things are legit excuses. Your kids, your laundry, it’s all legit, and it’s not going away. But if you can learn how to design an environment that allows you to have longer periods of focus and longer periods of productivity, that could make a huge difference in the things you want to achieve.

And also, if you don’t have an attractive workspace that’s enticing you to spend time in it, that’s a problem too. So if you’re like, I just work in that room upstairs, it’s got a whole bunch of junk in it that I need to clean out and it’s sort of the spare bedroom and I hate going up there and it’s cold up there, it’s kind of dark, there’s not even any art on the walls, it looks like a prison cell, how much are you going to want to go get your work done? Zero, right?

It’s so much easier to lay on the couch and binge-watch Netflix while you fold laundry and talk to your kids instead of being productive. So again, you have to really entice yourself. I think of it almost as bribing yourself to want to go be productive, and that can be done by the way that you design your environment.

So in the book Atomic Habits that I’ve already talked about, James Clear talks about something along these lines, and he talks about making something attractive to increase the likelihood of it becoming a habit. And I have been practicing this concept for years and I have always known that it sounded silly, but it worked.

So whether it’s making your office more attractive by the layout and the décor or making your desk attractive and fun because you put fresh flowers on it or you have really cool and trendy office supplies, or you love your new comfy chair, or maybe it’s because you situate your office in a room with the perfect amount of sunlight and a gorgeous view, or all of these things, anything that you can do to make your workspace more enticing for you to be in versus the couch or the bed or the places that you want to hang out instead with the remote control, if you can make your workspace more attractive, it’s going to do wonders for your productivity because you’re going to want to go there.

You’re going to want to spend time there. It’s going to feel like a treat when you’re there and you’re going to be more likely to again, reinforce this habit of showing up for yourself in the areas of productivity because you like the way your environment supports this activity.

So there is a lot already that we’ve talked about in the area of productivity, but let’s also talk about color because the psychology of color, meaning even paint colors or the colors of the other things you have in your space play a role in all of these factors. All four of the factors. So far we’ve talked about stress and productivity, we’re going to talk about two more in a minute.

But this idea of color psychology plays a role in all of this. And I want you to think about it and think about what colors do to you. What comes to mind instantly when I think of color psychology is when I was a child, we lived in south Arkansas and we would go into Target stores. And at the time Target was newer. I don’t know when Target was invented but for our area, we had a new Target store and when we went in there, they were painted that really bright orange red that a lot of Target stores are still painted today, or at least they have that color in their space.

But to me, we were in the store and it was almost entirely that color, and I always have remembered how agitated I felt when I was in Target. Literally. Now all of us think of Target as being so cool because their products are so cool and trendy and clever, but I really associate agitation and nervousness with being in Target, and it was because of the colors.

I can just think about that color and it really sort of sends me into that mood, and that’s because that’s what color psychology is. It makes us have a feeling or a memory or an association and I can just remember again, that color and get stressed out like that. So then I also think about ironically – I didn’t learn my lesson there – and one of my very first bedrooms after I got married to my husband, we painted it red.

And the reason we painted it red was because being a new designer and thinking I was super cool and working with an old home that had pink tile in the bathroom, I found this really cool fabric that was red and pink and orange and I was going to cover my headboard in it. And I was like well heck, let’s just paint the walls red. Bad idea and big mistake.

I think it made me nervous and anxious even at night when the lights were out. I’m not kidding. But especially at dusk, if I was getting in bed early or summer time and we were getting in bed early, I just remember that red glow that did not relax me at all, and then the first thing I saw every morning at dawn or when I woke up, the first thing that greeted me was this bright red room.

And so it was like Target all over again. It definitely added to my anxiety. So I learned in the next home, my bedroom is pale blue. The home after that, which is the one I’m in, my bedroom is still pale blue. So color psychology is a real thing and there is color psychology to specifically support productivity.

So you want a color that does not agitate you, but that also doesn’t make you too lethargic when you’re trying to increase productivity because you’re trying to increase focus, right? So you want something in between lethargy and agitation. So let’s think about it as maybe even energizing but still refreshing and nurturing.

So there are yellows, colors of yellow that are great for productivity, there are also a lot of blues that are great for productivity, but interestingly enough, grey, which has been so popular in interior design in the last 10 years, it’s not necessarily great for productivity. Why? Well, because it can be too drab and too depressing for a lot of people.

Another color that’s not really great for productivity is white because it can be too stark. And again, it can feel like a prison cell or a psych ward, depending on what else you have in the space of the room that is really nurturing you and making you be able to focus and pay attention. So think about that. Think about your spaces and start to pay attention to the color of your spaces and think about the outcomes they’re helping you get. Think about how they make you feel.

And in particular, if you’re trying to increase productivity, think about your ability to focus in certain spaces in your home or at your office and why those are. Is it the color? Is it the noise? Is it the clutter or lack of clutter that allows you to focus? Because you can literally engineer productivity with your environment.

And lighting also plays a big role in this whole color psychology thing because depending on your lighting, colors are going to look different. Fluorescent lighting is not going to be good for productivity. It’s not good for you for a lot of reasons. It doesn’t make you feel energized. It doesn’t make you able to focus very well. But also, just the type of lighting you have in a space is going to change the way colors look.

So we’ll talk about lighting a little bit more in a minute, but that’s going to play a role in the colors of a space and the feelings of a space. So, one other thing I want to talk about before we move off of productivity is what I call home systems. So it’s sort of like organization, or it includes that, but home systems are all of the things that support an activity or a task in your home.

So a lot of us think of systems at work, right? Business systems. But we’re rarely thinking about them in our homes other than when we’re maybe organizing. But for productivity, I want you to think about sort of the systems that support productivity, and for me that means planning all the things I’m going to need to be effective at work or while working in my home office. So whatever space it is you’re working in, what are all those things and those systems that you need in place so that you can be your best?

So again, if not, there are a lot of interruptions that happen to your workday because you have to get up a lot, you have to look for things a lot, you have to make trips to other spaces and gather needed items or tools. So if you can really orchestrate and organize systems for work, systems for sleep, systems for self-care, really systems for all the things you’re doing but in particular right now, we’re talking about systems for productivity with regard to your environment, you’re going to see an increase and see that needle move with your results.

So I like to design my rooms at home and of course when I do offices too, but usually I’m working in homes, including my own. I like to design my rooms with workflow in mind. So even if it’s not work, there’s workflow to almost everything we do, right? There’s a workflow for how we cook in our kitchen, or how we get dressed every day in the morning, or how we do laundry, or even how we entertain and the things we’re going to need to entertain.

And I like to think through and design and orchestrate spaces so I can pull all of the needed and desired tasks off with more ease and more joy and less stress. And when this happens, guess what? Our productivity increases in a big way.

So number three after productivity, let’s look at wellness and health, including mental health. So your home definitely impacts your sleep, and we hear a lot these days about sleep and what it does to our health. And sleep impacts both your physical health and your mental health. So a lot goes into a good night’s sleep. Think about it. Think about how you can design a better night’s sleep.

And it’s all the obvious things like your mattress and your sheets and your bedding and your pillows but it’s also things like the temperature. It’s also the lighting or the lack of lighting. So darkness. Do you have blackout curtains? Or the lighting in blue light that’s coming from your television or your electronics?

So there’s so many things that go into a good night’s sleep, even whether or not you have a partner that snores. And yes, you can do something about this with your home layout, with the way you design a bedroom, a master bedroom. I’ve even written an article before about the snore-atorium, which can be another place in your home that you have for you or your spouse to go if that’s an issue.

Of course, there are tools and gadgets and things that help snoring but this is an actual concern for your health and wellness and their health and wellness, and it’s something you’ve got to think about. Other parts of the health equation that really relate to the environment are self-care and exercise. So are you thinking about your home with regard to these things and have you designed your spaces to promote self-care?

Like promote meditation or promote you taking an Epsom salt bath every day, or promote you using your portable infrared sauna, or doing yoga or meditation, or just resting. Promote resting and detoxing from electronics. All of those things can be designed with the layout of your home, and not just the layout but the way you use spaces.

Also thinking about health and wellness, what about if you do work from home? Even if it’s occasionally, do you have a standing desk in your workspace or one like I have that goes from sitting to standing, whichever one I need at the moment? Because guess what? A lot of us sit too much and they – the collective they out in the world as I love to call them – they say that sitting is the new smoking.

So do you have a standing desk or an ergonomic chair that supports your body in the most effective way? And again, this stuff is specific to each of us. How tall we are, how we’re shaped, any health concerns or injuries we already have. So we need the most support we can get and that all comes into the design of your environment.

I tend to like working from my bed because it’s super comfortable and I joke about this a lot here and online, on social media, but guess what? If I work in my bed very long, not good for me. My back hurts, my hips hurt, it’s not a great position to be in with my neck so my neck hurts, then my head starts to hurt. So my desk is super important as is my desk chair to periods of focus and effectiveness and wellness and to decrease stress, and it plays a role in this whole conversation we’re having today.

So if these things that you’re trying to do like self-care and working and being focused and meditation and yoga and working out and even resting, if they feel like a chore for you, guess what? You’re not going to do them. If you got to go get a bunch of stuff out every time you want to meditate or do yoga or take care of yourself, you’re probably not going to do it.

So we can literally have dedicated spaces or just even areas, parts of a space in our home that are designed to accommodate and promote the activities that help us be our best and that help us be our most healthy, that help increase our wellness. And it only makes sense that the healthier and happier and more relaxed you are, the more productive you’ll be, right? And more profitable you’ll be when you’re working.

So this again, is an important conversation that we probably haven’t given a lot of time to. And there’s lighting that’s in all of these spaces and it’s going to play a role. It plays a role in our health and wellness. It’s draining. That’s back to that idea of Dave Asprey and all the work he does on our mitochondria and how bad lighting actually changes our health.

So it’s more than just being ugly or feeling uncomfortable or making you depressed. It actually has an impact on your health and wellness. You want a lot of natural light or lighting that simulates natural lighting or both. You want enough lighting to safely and effectively do the task you need to do. You want to limit blue light. Layered lighting I think is really great for a mood.

It’s what I call ambient lighting and so it makes me more relaxed when there’s a softer light or a layered light that feels more comfortable that overhead lighting. It makes me feel happier and more nurtured, and that’s the opposite of feeling like I feel in a fluorescent light situation, which again, sort of feels like prison to me. Never been to prison but I might have visited one before for charity, but that’s as close as I’ve gotten and I don’t like that feeling and you probably don’t either.

So what does the lighting feel like and how is it impacting not only your health and wellness but these other areas we’re talking about. Your stress and your productivity. And as I mentioned at the beginning of this episode, I’m really studying a lot of this, getting into the nitty-gritty of air quality and air temperature and water quality and lighting quality because it really matters and I won’t go into all of the rest of that nerdy stuff today but I just want you to start to pay attention that this stuff matters, that literally the temperature in your home can be the thing that’s keeping you on the sofa as opposed to getting up and going to the space where you can be most productive or do something for your health and wellness.

Or even, and especially, it can be impacting your sleep if it’s too cold or too warm. So all playing a big old role, and don’t forget about color as far as your wellness too, because the color psychology definitely goes into feeling well and promoting wellness activities.

So have you engineered your home or your workspace to de-stress and for productivity and for health and wellness? And did you even know that you could? And if you have done some things, there’s probably some more things that you can do, but I want to touch on the last of the four areas real quick because this one I love to talk about and I love to think about, and that is does your environment impact your profitability?

So we all want more for the most part, most of us. Maybe not everybody, but a lot of us do. Not because we’re greedy but because money makes life easier in a lot of ways. So is your space, your home, your environment setting you up for results in the area of profitability and making more money? I bet you’ve never thought of this, but it’s a really good question.

So what keeps us from being profitable? Well, not being productive, which we’ve already talked about, not spending time on the right things, the things that make us the most money, not having time or space to generate new profitable ideas. How many times do you think I never have time to work on my business because I’m just always stressed and then when I get home there’s so much to do and there’s people everywhere and it’s cluttered and I couldn’t think of a new idea if my life depended on it. That’s a problem that can be changed by redesigning your space or rethinking your space.

How about not starting your days off effectively and not knocking out the most important stuff that makes the most money before we get distracted or interrupted? That’s a huge one, right? That’s all about your morning routine, and I believe that your environment can support your morning routine. So each of these are things that can be enhanced or supported by our environment.

So think about it. Think about creating a space in your home that is distraction-free and that nurtures you to create your best ideas ever. I call this an idea incubator, and I for sure want at least one idea incubator space in my home, and if you can see that you can design your home to entice you, not only to create ideas but also to follow through on things that make you money.

So think about that whole idea of the morning routine. Instead of staying in the bed, even though every night you’re like, tomorrow I’m really getting up and I’m starting my morning routine, what happens the next morning? You’re like, so comfy in here, I’m just staying in bed. It’s cozy, I’m hitting the snooze, not happening today.

Well, back to that whole concept that James Clear talks about making a space more attractive, that’s what I’ve done to really support my morning routine. So I designed my whole routine around one of my favorite rooms. My favorite chair that’s in my living room. In the winter, I turn on the fireplace. I look forward to that. I’m like, it’s okay to get out of this cozy bed because I’m going right in there by the fire, and I know I’m going to make my favorite bulletproof coffee in my favorite mug and have my favorite journal and my favorite pen and my favorite blanket to cuddle in that space.

And so not only is it not hard for me to get out of bed, I can’t wait to get out of bed and to follow through with this routine because I’ve designed it in relation to my space and I’m so happy to have that quiet me time every day that it even makes me go to bed earlier because I’m like, if I don’t get in bed now, I’m not going to want to get up and go to my morning routine and that is one of my favorite things. It’s how I start my day off so well and so I’ve designed this experience in my environment to make me want to follow through.

So that’s the whole idea of making something attractive. And if you can see that following through on your morning routine every day starts your day better, there’s a good chance that could increase your productivity and your profits. By following through on that morning routine, it sets the tone for your whole day.

Or maybe it’s not even just a morning routine for you. Maybe you don’t go like me and journal and have coffee or do yoga or meditation in the morning, but maybe it’s just the way you design your space to support the first hour or two of your workday, which can increase your profitability. Because what if you made that space where you go your favorite spot with your favorite music and your favorite candle and your favorite coffee in the coffee mug and you can’t wait to get there, and that favorite chair that you’re going to work in. And when you get there, you know that you have created a habit of following through on the three most important tasks for the day that are going to make you the most money, and you do that as a part of your routine every single day before distractions come in that keep you from doing those things, again, that financially move the needle in your business.

I just want you to see in these four areas and many, many, many more, we can absolutely set ourselves up for success with stress or de-stressing, the lack of stress, with health and wellness, with productivity, and with profitability and more. But it doesn’t happen by accident. You have to make this happen by design. So dig into this, friends. Dig into assessing your space or spaces, your workspace, your home space, and see where you can take your results that you’re getting in your life to a whole new level.

And if you want to talk about this more, I promise you I want to talk about this more. I love this concept. It’s my favorite thing that I’ve gotten excited about in the whole interior design world in a long time, and join me over in my Design You Podcast free group on Facebook so we can talk about this. I’m over there, I hang out over there. We have other cool people join us like guests of the podcast come over and we do free Q&A’s. It’s just a really fun community.

So if you want to keep this conversation going, head over there. You can search it as facebook.com/groups/designyoupodcastcommunity. Or just type into the search bar on Facebook, Design You Podcast community. It should bring it up. But you find it, you request to join, we’ll let you in, it’s absolutely free, and I can’t wait to see you over there and we’ll keep talking about the possibilities that are environment could really make a difference in the things that we want to achieve.

So I’ll see you over there soon and I’ll see you again on another episode next week. Bye for now, friends.

Thank you so much for joining me for this episode of The Design You Podcast. And if you’d like even more support for designing a business and a life that you love, then check out my exclusive monthly coaching program Design You at tobifairley.com.

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Hi! I'm Tobi

I help creative women (and a few really progressive dudes) design profit-generating, soul-fulfilling businesses that let them own their schedule, upgrade their life and feel more alive than ever!

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