Your working conditions can have a greater impact on your sense of well-being and on your productivity than you might realize. When you're not in the right environment for you, it doesn't matter what you do, things won't be quite right. Even the people you love will not be as lovely to you if you're not in an environment that nourishes you. I'm an Introvert and a "cave" person. I am sensitive to sound, smell and temperature. I have learned that I do best when I can focus on my work, and generally feel a certain degree of control over my work space. I can't function when I'm cold, and get cold fairly easily. I can work in noisier environments, like my favorite local coffee place, but only under certain conditions. It the music isn't right, or there is someone talking who has one of those voices that - for me - pierces my awareness and demands my auditory attention, it is far more difficult.
The same needs apply to my living environment. As a younger woman, I didn't have the financial means to live on my own, and I often had a difficult time with roommates. Now I understand why. Even though things started out OK in a shared situation, I can see now that my sensitivity to noise (by which I mean hyper-sensitivity), as well as my real need for solitary time, meant I was always vulnerable to the behavior of others.
The place where I live and work has a lot of the features that make me FEEL good in my body.
- I am in charge of the temperature of the physical environment.
- I live in an end-unit and the front wall faces south. (What can I say? I am a cave person who needs warmth and light!)
- Even the balcony has a cave-like feeling, covered as it is, with walls on 3 sides and a wonderful view in 2 directions. (Some Native Americans lived in elevated caves with views of the valleys below. It's like that for me.)
I've noticed the same environmental preferences in restaurants. I don't like to sit in the middle tables of a restaurant but prefer to sit on the edges, with my back to a wall. It feels noticeably uncomfortable when I'm in the middle and there are people on all sides. Plus, I don't like to hear other people's conversations other than those I am sitting with. With my back to the wall, I immediately eliminate the potential sound blasts from others by 50%.
What About You?
When you were reading the particulars of my preferred environment, did you start to reflect on yours? What do you notice about your own preferences?
Are you a "cave" person, like me, meaning you feel good in a protective environment, yet one that is light and open?
Or, are you someone who needs more activity around you, preferring a busy environment where there is a lot of activity around you? You are more likely to do well in noisy public places, in cities or in a bustling office.
Some people need a view, to be somewhat elevated. Others need to work with music, and still others need absolute silence.
Questions to help you assess your ideal work environment:
Caution: pay attention to your immediate responses. If your mind starts to enter the picture, stop. Notice what it says about your responses.
- Do you thrive in a busy, bustling environment?
- Do you need to move around during the day or do you like to stay in one place?
- Do you like cities or feel better in suburbia or the country?
- Do you prefer valleys or mountains? (I moved to the San Fernando Valley in Southern California after living in the San Francisco Bay Area for 16 years. I FELT the difference, like I couldn't climb out of that valley.)
- Do you do well in a milder climate and feel comfortable when skies are grey, or do you need a drier, warmer, sunnier climate?
- Are you lonely working at home?
- Do you wish you could work from home?
If you're struggling in your business and can't seem to make headway, or if you're simply having a difficult time being productive, maybe it's time to look at your environment. Is it the best environment for you?