Cover image credit: Magic Days by Colin Gardiner
If you’re in the northern hemisphere there’s a good chance you’re thoroughly sick of having to wear three pairs of socks and scraping ice off your windscreen. The good news is that it’s only a matter of weeks before the new shoots of Spring start to appear and people start getting their pasty legs out all over the place. The beginning of Spring is often associated with a clear out and a de-clutter. While this may conjure up images of alphabetizing your vinyl or polishing the oven, it’s actually a great excuse to take a look at your workspace and to do a little housekeeping to ensure you’re feeling refreshed and inspired. We’ve whipped up a list of 10 simple projects and tasks that, with little effort, will help freshen up your workspace. No matter what part of the planet you hail from, these tips should go some way towards making you feel more organised, energised and ready to face the months ahead.
1. Let’s start with an easy one. Make your desktop instantly classier with this free retro flip clock screen saver from 9031. It only takes a minute to download so by the time you’ve finished reading this post you’ll have already ticked something off the list. Brilliant.
2. Backup your files. Whether you have an external hard drive, or use an online tool like Dropbox, there’s something quite satisfying about knowing your files are safe. We all mean to do it more often but some of us learn the importance of backing up files the hard way. As a first step, check out Lifehacker’s tips on the best online synching services. We’ve heard great things about Layervault. Described as ‘Dropbox for designers’, it’s a tool that allows you to manage different versions of your design files. We also recommend checking out crashplan.com. It’s cheap and rather awesome.
3. No really. Back up your files properly.
4. Surround yourself with inspiration. We love the idea of an inspiration line (below left). Overhauling or reorganising your entire workspace can quickly become a time consuming and costly exercise. An inspiration line is a cheap and simple way to display all those nuggets of inspiration you’ve been squirrelling away. All you need are pegs (the small wooden ones are available from most craft stores) and some string.
5. Clean and organise your paint brushes and other art supplies. This might sound like an easy one, but thoroughly cleaning paint, gesso, oil pastels and the like is no easy feat. Make an effort to learn about the best ways to look after your gear (and prepare for the elbow grease!). Paint producers Winsor & Newton have some great advice on care and cleaning for your brushes.
6. Sort out your tunes. Good music is essential to relaxation, motivation and several other ‘ation’ words. Sometimes we just want to work to the sound of the wind rustling in the trees and birdsong. On other occasions we require a soundtrack. There are some great sites like Spotify (UK and US only), Rdio and MOG (US only) that allow you to stream music on demand and create playlists. Last FM allows you to stream radio stations tailored to your own music taste. Then there’s always the other end of the technological spectrum – equipping your workspace with a decent radio or a turntable.
7. Review your personal email policy. Many of us bemoan the sheer volume of email we have to deal with on a daily basis. If email is eating your day, consider setting some boundaries. Sites like the Single Sentence Email Project and five.sentenc.es encourage us to form new habits by pledging to shorten the length of emails. Not only will you be doing yourself a favor and increasing the time you have for other projects, you’ll be putting less pressure on the inboxes of others too. There’s also a lot to be said for checking your email at set times during the day. If you’re interested in more ideas for managing your inbox, check out the InboxZero series on 43Folders.
8. Have a brutal declutter. If the words ‘bomb site’ or ‘pigsty’ come to mind when you glance at your workspace, don’t panic, and do not slowly back away. Arm yourself with cleaning products, garbage bags and boxes for the thrift store. Find a corner, a chair, a bookcase, a messy drawer and get stuck in. Invest in decent storage for your art supplies. Storage solutions don’t need to be expensive. Raid your local thrift store for retro mugs, canisters or containers that double as pen and brush pots, or make your own. There are some great DIY storage solutions on the interweb, like this idea of using a knife rack as a paintbrush holder or these upcycled tin can pen pots.
9. Give your desktop a facelift with a new wallpaper. There’s no end to the beautiful designs available online. Smashing Magazine offers a series of monthly desktop calendars and they also invite artists to submit their own. If you fancy a little exposure on the Smashing Magazine blog, check out their desktop wallpaper submission guidelines.
Image credit: Smashing Magazine
10. If you began the year by setting creative and artistic goals for 2012, now’s a great time to revisit them. Two months into 2012 is by no means too late to give them an extra push. If January and February passed by in a blur, begin by writing a list of goals you’d like to achieve this year – on a serviette, the front page of a brand new sketchbook or on your inspiration line.