Take your productivity to the next level with a man (or woman) cave (case study)
“I wouldn’t be able to work from home, I would just be watching telly and rummaging in my fridge”
Every time I hear this from a friend after I tell them I'm a freelancer working from home I feel fortunate to be able to work independently and unbound. But the truth is, since I quit my job, I’ve been working from the living rooms of the flats I lived in, which left me open to infinite distractions and noises. I nevertheless managed to thrive and get things done, proving myself that my passion withstands any conditions.
Then I obsessed about getting myself a man cave. Man caves (and woman caves) are usually regarded as ‘playgrounds’ for adult people. Spaces that keep people distracted and give them the illusion of freedom. They’re invariably associated with useless hobbies and the indulgence of infantile leisure activities: gaming, watching sports, drinking, smoking, and the like.
But they are rarely promoted as spaces of productivity and creativity, fundamental elements of man caves.
As I explore ways of being more productive and winning time, I decided to create my own man cave with the sole purpose of working smarter. I’ll show you how to set up your man cave to support you 100% on your commitment.
A month ago, I set up my long-dreamed man cave and my productivity and focus has skyrocketed. I also feel more aligned with my purpose and way more energetic in my work (I’ writing this on a Saturday night at 1 am, which wouldn't have happened if I didn’t have this awesome setup...
For the sake of a more awesome world, I want your productivity to surge too. Are you ready? Let’s dive in.
Why does a man cave boost your productivity?
The University of Calgary has found that working in isolation can boost your productivity, so now I’m almost convinced I’m not autistic.
Apart from the obvious reason of not having distractions, working in isolation keeps other people’s influences at bay. This allows you to build up a space that belongs to you, giving you a higher sense of comfort that ultimately makes you work smarter.
Man or woman caves have a strong element of identity, so you are producing work that has your personal imprint because it has been created in a space that you yourself have delimited.
You set your boundaries and rules. In my case, the only rule is ‘only activities for joy and creativity’.
Because you know the rules and purpose, you can set your man cave in a way that everything is handy and ready to do great work. For me, this is crucial because I used to have my laptop charger and adaptors all over the flat, and finding them would already eat my cognitive load. It’s astonishing how much you lose your flow looking for notebooks around a 2 bedroom flat!
Last but not least, silence is a huge factor for me. Living in Finland for 5 years taught me that silence can be a powerful condition to come up with the best of ideas.
How to build a productive man cave
The first thing to consider here is the type of man cave you want or need. There are several types of man caves depending on what you want it for, your goals and your hobbies.
My man cave concept is a study with a chill-out corner. I wanted two spaces, one for work and another one for meditation, chilling out and charging my batteries.
Mind that there is no room for escapism here, only activities to develop my skills, whether these are active (work), or passive (contemplation).
I was lucky enough to have a second bedroom in my flat that I using as a storage room, leaving there everything I was not using at the time.
It was truly painful to see the space not being used efficiently, so I got everything out of there and I put it in another storage space.
Man cave furniture
This is a summary of the items I have in my man cave/study:
Digging around and asking people, I found a folding Ikea desk that was collecting dust in a storage room.
The folding table allows for a dynamic space, so you get a desk when you need it and extra space when you don’t. I drilled a handful of holes on the wall and secured it.
You can get a folding table for about $30 here.
A handful of long screws
A handful of anchors
An old newspaper to cover the floor from dust
Pro tip: ensure you set the folding desk near a plug, this will ensure you don’t need an extender cable and therefore you won’t leave excess cable around.
Ideally use an office chair, although you can use any chair. I personally took one from my dining room. I like to sit there even when I’m not working.
At first, I was going to remove the bed from the existing bedroom but then I thought that it would be a good idea to have an option to take power naps whenever I felt wound up and wanted to reset my brain.
The great impact of these techniques on my productivity is helping me stop feeling guilty about taking naps in the middle of the day, something I was conditioned by the persistent cultural pressure to be ‘always on’.
I found this small drawer where keep all the electronic stuff and cables handy. I also leave all those little objects I don't use every day and only bring about to chaos at home.
It’s also the centre of my chill out corner. I use it as an altar for my meditation aids.
This one was already in the bedroom, all I did was remove everything I didn’t need and put my folders and other stationary items on its shelves.
Pro tip: before hitting your nearest Ikea, ask people around you if you can borrow some furniture from them, the chances are your relatives and friends have more furniture than they are currently using.
Man cave decor
According to the Konmari method, you want to have items around you that bring you joy. Choose only decoration that lifts you up and inspires you.
I have grown very minimal in this respect, meaning that I removed all the decoration that there was in the room before I moved in. These are the only items I now have.
Velvet chakras poster
You can buy velvet posters to color your own. Coloring them is incredibly engaging and relaxing. They look great and when the light hits them they almost have a neon glow.
I use a 7-metal Tibetan singing bowl as a meditation aid and it looks fantastic on my altar. Every time I look at it I feel instantly relaxed. I love playing it.
You can get one from Amazon or in new-age shops or street markets.
I have two paper lamps that give a dim but charming ambient light. I find them very cosy and use them to work on my laptop. They don't give a strong enough light to use them for reading but they still allow you to write some notes on a paper.
Add any Items that bring you joy. In my case, I have my surfboard and my guitar. I do joyful activities with both of them so they carry that energy with them.
Man cave activities
Make sure you use your time at your sacred spots for the right things. Here is my breakdown of activities in order of time spent doing each activity:
When I want to binge on Youtube or waste my time, I get out of the man cave and go to the living room, the kitchen or my bedroom. The man cave is for introspection and creation, escapism has no place there.
Before signing up to your local co-working space, consider the power of working in solitude and whether you can build a man cave for yourself. I promise you’ll be able to have a place to become super productive and create more joyful and purposeful work that will resolve in happier clients and more prosperity.
If you liked this article make sure to share and check out how going to the mountains can also boost your productivity.