Our surroundings have a visceral effect on our moods. Some people can't get anything done in a cluttered room, and others can't concentrate without background chatter. In today's post we'll explore how this concept applies to an under-appreciated part of your environment: the computer desktop.
Like a messy room or a gleaming, minimal, office building - certain spaces yield certain results. I can't presume to know the environment that you thrive in. It's a bit impractical to expect to work in a perfect setting since you generally share it with classmates, coworkers, or family. One thing you can control is your computer desktop. Why not design it to subtly reinforce your current priorities?
Desktop as Gateway
When you sit down at your computer, the desktop is your first impression. In psychological terms, whatever you see will "prime" your next thoughts. Even if you're not actively considering the impact, there's a part of your brain that continues to linger on your desktop even after you start digital painting. Some people recognize this and leave themselves "stickies" - critical to-do reminders for the day. For me, leaving stickies would be distracting. Instead of relaxing and preparing to paint, I would find myself dwelling on a task or errand I've been avoiding. Bottom line: it matters what you see, and has a lingering effect.
The most clutter on your desktop probably comes from these little colorful squares. I strongly encourage you to take an hour this afternoon and file all unnecessary icons. What should you leave? That's where the design part comes in. Think of them as an outward expression of your priorities. Are you working on improving your anatomy right now? Great - limit your desktop icons to strictly anatomy related work. An example for this might be Photoshop, recycle bin, your anatomy studies folder, and a couple direct links to anatomy tutorial websites. You won't keep it this way forever, just while you're focusing on anatomy.
Just like icons, background images are a great way to set the right tone in your work environment. If you are currently studying anatomy, an inspiring drawing or reference photo might be a nice touch. Personally, I love to use a flat color. 50% gray backgrounds, in my opinion, set a great tone. Like sitting down at a recently cleaned desk, an uncluttered field of gray tells me that painting is about to happen. My Photoshop documents will soon fill the screen, brimming with color and details -- letting the gray serve as welcome visual rest. And of course: 50% gray won't give me a false impression of other colors.
What will you do to design your desktop? Let's hear about it in the comments.