I started a project back in November to read a book a month for 12 months. I got off to a great start and consistently worked my way through the first 4 books on the plan. THEN…I found Blinkist and I was able to digest a new book almost every morning. It has it’s pros and cons, but for a man than predominantly reads non-fiction, it’s the perfect accompaniment to my morning coffee.

Something that interested me this week was the concept of the ‘Cathedral Effect’. It’s mentioned in Tiago Forte’s book, Building a Second Brain and I was curious how to apply this myself.

What is the Cathedral Effect?

The Cathedral Effect is a term used to describe a workspace that has the grandeur and majesty of a cathedral. This can be achieved through careful design and attention to details such as the arrangement of the furniture, the color of the walls, and the type of decorations, such as artwork and plants. The main idea behind this concept is for the workspace to evoke a feeling of serenity and awe to help motivate and inspire productivity. By creating a space that reflects one’s personality and interests, it can create a comfortable and productive environment and lead to greater focus and productivity.” – Chat GPT

Have you ever noticed how some workspaces seem to almost have a life of their own? Like you’re entering some type of sacred space? That feeling is what we call the Cathedral Effect.

When we think of a cathedral, the most striking feature is the sheer beauty of its grandeur design and size. Whether it’s the arrangement of the stained-glass windows or the shape of the arches, all of the careful details come together to create an atmosphere that is both serene and awe-inspiring.

This same concept of majesty and grandeur can be applied to your workspace and something I’ve been working on for some time. I’m a gadget man and always looking for the best desk setup. Your environment, tools, ambience, lighting, textures, smells – it’s all a part of the overall design. It’s no wonder that many people, when feeling overwhelmed by their work, look for solace and a peaceful place to focus where it feels like their productivity will magically increase.

When you have a workspace that feels like a cathedral, it can help you stay motivated and connected to the task that you’re working on. Creating a space that you love to be in and that inspires productivity is essential for any workspace, and that’s what the Cathedral Effect is all about. There’s an ongoing debate about ‘return to the office’ at the moment. Many people have been able to create small ‘Cathedrals’ at home, and there is very little a standard office can replicate.

For example, at home – I have a corner view office with amazing natural light. I love nature so I’m surrounded by plants and work from a custom oak stand-up desk. I have artwork that I love, an ergonomic chair and a 32” curved screen to manage my team and my work. I have my Yamaha piano close by to relieve stress throughout the day and a balcony with fresh air for a change of scenery. Add to this my own fridge and own toilet…it’s a dream.

Compare this to the ‘Cathedral’ of the office – I have a desk and chair in a room of 10. No personalisation, no privacy, no where to go and think. We share a bathroom with 14 and a kitchen with the same. No plants, conflicting temperature needs and restricted light.

This isn’t an argument for or against the office. It’s just an exaggerated comparison of the two ‘Cathedrals’. One is very conducive to my working needs, one is not. It’s understandable…but the fact there is a ‘concept’ for this, is interesting to me.

Whether you’re working from home or in an office, creating a workspace with the Cathedral Effect is a great way to stay focused and motivated. Take the time to design a space that fits your personality and interests, and watch how your productivity soars.

On the other hand AND a total contradiction to this post is a concept from stoic philosophy. Forget your ‘Cathedral’ and focus on what you can control.

Your mind.

Do what works for you. Remember, it could be a combination of the two! 😉

“The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control. Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own…” — Epictetus (The daily stoic)


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