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“Since I am working from home, I was surprised to see that the same room can be experienced so differently depending on my mood and the activity I was trying to perform. I think it will be a helpful tool for my work team as we return to our office. I am curious to know how each of us experience our shared spaces. I learned that I like working in my home office more than I thought and will probably make some changes to my work pattern.”

How do the spaces you inhabit affect your mood and performance?

The spaces we occupy have a huge impact on our wellbeing. People have been aware of this for a very long time. The Chinese practice of Feng Shui is 6,000 years old. The ancient Egyptians and Greeks took a lot of care in designing their spaces.

Today, billions of dollars are spent on home and office design, to create spaces meant to optimize satisfaction, wellbeing and productivity.

But each of us is different in how we experience an environment. To create or occupy a space that feels the best for us, we first must be aware of what that space is.

Over the course of one or several days, observe the different physical environments you inhabit to better understand how the sound, light, clutter impacts your sense of wellbeing.

Why did we design this tool the way we did? It sure looks unusual! People have said these look like snowflakes, or alien hieroglyphics.

We deliberately created something that can be drawn anywhere at any time. Something you can doodle in the corner of your notebook or on a napkin wherever you are. It allows you to have a moment of mindfulness, to pay attention to where you are in that moment.

You will find that there is a lot of information packed into that little design — sound, light, clutter, temperature, the presence of others, as well as your current mood and ability to focus. Once you get the hang of it, you will discover that it is quite simple.

Impact Stories

“I can see using this tool as a starting point for team members to discuss how to improve work spaces. Sound, temperature and lighting are all subjective. The tool provides a neutral format—maybe with each overlaying the next using different colors so you can see different perspectives.”

“I do really like it and I think it will be really easy to use in the future by just memorizing the little spaces and I can see myself just doodling in the corner what my environment looks like”


Environment instructions, as well as Data Collection and Data Drawing templates, can be found on pages 28–33 of the Mapping Ourselves workbook.

Reflection Questions

After completing your data drawing, answer the following questions to reflect on your data collection and drawing experience.

  • In the creation and evaluation of this drawing, what stood out for you?
  • Do you see possible ways that the environments might be affecting your performance?
  • How does your mood vary across the environments?

Here are some more suggestions for deeper reflection and exploration:

  • How varied are your environments?
  • What types of environments do you find most joyful? most calming? best for focus?
  • What types of sounds, light, clutter, temperature do you find most bothersome?
  • How do your environmental preferences vary by type of activity?
  • What might you do to create more positive environments, or spend more time in positive environments?
Except where noted, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.