As I continue to work my way (slowly) through Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way, I continue to experience moments of synchronicity in my life. Cameron’s definition of synchronicity is when you put a request out to the universe—for instance, your desire to take up acting—and the universe replies—for instance, you meet a woman who teaches a beginning acting class at a dinner party.
I think there’s another type of synchronicity: as I learn a lesson from one source, I’m likely to notice complementary lessons elsewhere. For instance, one of the exercises in this week’s chapter was to design a creative space for myself; the idea, although not explicitly stated, is that by surrounding oneself with things that are inspiring, comforting, and beautiful, you free your creative side to come out and play.
It turns out that Cameron’s wisdom, penned nearly 20 years ago, is now backed by scientific research. While a graduate student at University of Exeter in the UK, Dr. Craig Knight performed research on employees’ attitudes, work satisfaction, and productivity as they relate to employee control over workplace environment.
His work challenges the mentality of many corporations, where “managers often create a ‘lean’ working environment that reflects a standardized corporate identity.” In a study of over 2000 office workers, he consistently found that the more control people have over their work environment, the happier and more motivated they are. In two additional studies, researchers compared the productivity of workers in “lean” environments, “enriched” environments (decorated with plants and artwork), and “empowered” environments (employee-decorated spaces). They found that employees who designed their own work spaces were 32% more productive than those in lean environments without increases in errors.
The lesson for writers: where you work IS important. Giving yourself a place that nurtures your spirit will improve your creativity—and productivity. After all, it’s not just an artsy thing any more: science backs it up!