Box of Crayons Blog


My Great Work office

My friend Jonathan Fields recently gave us a tour of his office. I thought I’d follow in his footsteps and show you how I’ve set up my office – and the tools and structures I use to do more Great Work.

You’ll see hat tips to everyone from Pema Chodron, Hugh MacLeod and Guy Laliberte.

Can’t see the video? You can watch it here.

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38 Responses to My Great Work office

  • charmdeyes

    Nice feeling to the space, I personally would need shelving at the desk area. Thanks 4 sharing

    • Michael

      Michael – thanks for taking the tour! I’m trying to figure out how to get two big screens for my computer, inspired by your office. Also love your Buddah and Ganesh statues

  • Jeannette

    enjoyed the tour of your workspace – good quality video! going to use the 2 desk approach in my office to do great work. Thank you.

  • Haider

    Superb presentation. Thanks for sharing!

    Do you have a link to the boat story? I can’t spell the name to save my dog’s life! (Probably because I don’t have a dog..)

  • Mark Silver

    Fantastic. At last we get to see your office. It’s funny with most of us in the Brain Trust out here on the west coast, I hadn’t realized how much I was hankering to see your space. Really grateful to see it.

    And it inspires me to finish my move from my upstairs, toddler-invaded office, down into my new basement office. I’m going to take on the “two desk” idea.

  • Tess

    Michael: Great workspace tour. I particularly loved the lighting and sound tips. While I’ve done some studio work and intend to record my own audio and visual, the lighting tip and the egg crate sized sound absorption technique were particularly helpful. I also like the separation of work/though spaces. Like you, I’ve separated my creative and my work spaces. Where I get stuck is with my endless multiple versions of a project I’m working on within my files on the computer. I think that I must waste ten minutes each time I sit down to work, just identifying which file I’m looking for. I think that I’ll start putting their titles in the header of my docs so that I can, as you’ve done with your books, purge my electronic files. I have only one binder of written work. The rest is a mess on my Mac. I start with great intentions of being super organized, but then I see something shiny and I’m off with a new idea or iteration.

    Loved this.

  • MABS

    Did that Pema quote read-what is the most important think? or thing?
    and ah…that’s why you always seem to answer the phone on the last ring:)

  • Karl Staib - Work Happy Now

    I enjoyed your thought process behind your work space. It helps me understand what I need to improve in my own work space. I don’t do a good enough job of keeping it clean. I also like that you have inspirational reminders throughout your space. I do this as well and it helps keep me motivated.

  • Eduard

    fantastic tour. I like your mic in box and above all your woollen boots. (besides your Great work:-). It reminds me one Czech saying: “cool head and warm feet”. And I realized that I need thermal comfort for Great Work. Big Aha moment!! Thanks

  • Michael

    Tess – thanks for your kind note. I’m starting to increasingly move stuff to Evernote, where I can just tag it and find it via search. Seems to be working so far.

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  • Sharon

    Michael – this came at exactly the right moment. Trying to integrate my many lifes – Coach, CPA, Writer and now Artist has been driving me CRAZY. There is much to take away from what I saw here.

  • Don

    Michael – Thanks for the tour. It is good to see how successful people organize themselves and the daily work is approached. I would like to learn more about the boat picture too. Will search to find it. This just reinforces what I already know — I am a pack rat. I have got to clean up and throw out stuff. Thanks again.

  • Nina East

    Michael – I enjoyed hearing the thought process behind why you have your office set up the way you do. I, too, keep the phone across the room. (Well, actually I have an old Princess phone on my desk, but I don’t use it – it’s just for ambience!)

    You’ve also inspired me to be mindful of how my various inspirational notes have begun cluttering each other out. Time for a little pruning of my own. And then I’ll do my own office tour!

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  • Permanent Magenta

    This totally rocks Michael! Wow. I found going through your office immensely helpful from the brian eno cards (that brian eno??) to the david allen filing inspirations (after reading and listening to the audio version of “getting things done” i remain dazzled but baffled to inaction by his suggestions). I am inspired.

  • Julie Daley

    This was delightful. I love the ease of you and the video. I really loved seeing how you set things up. Gives me some great ideas. Thank you.

  • Tomar

    Thanks, Michael. I’ve admired you for years, and especially appreciate your “real person” persona. Seeing your “real office” inspires me too. Hey, I can do that! (Actually, my office and my living room are the same space currently, but that actually has some advantages too.) Clutter is ever the big battle!

  • Karen Ward

    Great post Michael, delighted to see that you’re office away from home is still working out. I really loved your filing system set up and wondered if you might share the labels on your other file boxes so we can get a sense of what lives where and how the files move around. I know you’re a fan GTD of the Productive Flourishing system so interested to know how/if that system has helped shaped your filing system.

    Kudos and congrats on a brilliant year to date. Look forward to seeing you soon!


  • Manisha Thakor

    Wow – this was SuperDuper helpful. In addition to the two desk concept (B.R.I.L.L.I.A.N.T.)… As did Tess, I specially loved the tips on lights & portable “recording studio.” So smart! Any recommendations on where to purchase those items? Thanks again for sharing the details of your creative command central!

    • Michael

      Manisha – glad it helped. I just went to my local photography store and bought the cheapest two light set. Cost me about $150 I think.

  • Natalie Gelman

    So many great ideas, I’m going to define my work spaces more. I’m an artist and songwriter so inspiration strikes anywhere and everywhere but it will be great to have some things to assist in a space I want to work creatively in to help when I do get blocked. Thanks for this!

  • Andreas

    Great work! Right now I don´t have an real office for my great work. I have the desk in my office and a desk at home, but its in a small room where my girlfriend also works. That´s because I moved to the living room table. I would love to have something set up like your room. What do you recommand for people that have their work and also have their personal projects. How would you set up your workplace?

  • Andreas

    Hallo Michael, could you put all the links of the stuff you use down below the video? The deck of oblique strategies is not available annymore, I think.

  • Caroline Blackwell

    Michael, thank you for this tour! The “little ‘ole me,” tends to imagine that my role models and virtual mentors live and work in grand, luxurious spaces–completely out of my reach. Your office exudes warmth, balance, order, inspiration and utility, packaged beautifully, elegantly and provocatively. I can “Have an office like Michael Bungay Stainer,” and will! Your contributions enrich my life.

  • Rainbow Zebra

    Thanks for sharing, a good mix of warmth and functionality. It’s always important to get the balance right between making an office a place where you want to be, but not so comfy you’d never get any work done!

  • Daniel Mongeau

    Michael, thanks for a peek into your inner sanctum. You’re definitely set up to keep things in balance, and optimized for more great Work! Has David Allen seen your setup? I live by quotes as well, so it was nice to see you had plenty of inspirational drivers around you. I especially loved your WOMBAT 😉 Keep practicing what you preach – well done!


  • Stacey Simpson

    Thanks for the video. I really need to organise my work space more effectively and you have given me some good ideas. Also, have just spotted your book on Amazon for just over £5. What a bargain! May have to place an order.

  • james pomphrey

    Great ideas in a really simple video thinking about life quality & work productivity, what I found really interesting is the workplace is creative and inspiring, not the usual bland simple environments that we are sometimes far to drawn towards. I really loved the oblique Strategy cards box, since then i have started to use the website to break through the creative blocks we sometimes encounter in our lighting design business.

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