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Design Systems That Fuel Your Creativity

Lesson 8 of 18

The 9 Environments That Make Up Your Life

Srinivas Rao

Design Systems That Fuel Your Creativity

Srinivas Rao

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Lesson Info

8. The 9 Environments That Make Up Your Life

Lesson Info

The 9 Environments That Make Up Your Life

We're gonna wrap up this section with probably what is one of my favorite concepts, and something that really had a profound impact on me called The 9 Environments that Make up Your Life. Because we've talked about all of these things in isolation, but what you're gonna understand is how they all work together now. This is the guy who turned me on to this concept. His name is Jim Bunch. He's a found of the Ultimate Game of Life, and this is what he had to say about environments. Every environment is connected. You can't change one environment, and not have it change another. If you improve one environment, it will send a ripple effect through the other environments. If you improve your physical body as an environment, what happens to your self image? It improves. Once your self image improves, what happens to your networks? Your networks improve, 'cause you'll quit hanging out with the people that are bringing you down. What happens when your network improves? Your net worth is relat...

ed to your network. In other words, your financial environment can start to improve, 'cause the quality of people you're hanging out with is better, your self confidence is up, your strengths, gifts, and talents are up, your physical health is up, so you have more energy to commit to your vision and mission and your passions. All of these things are connected, and the vice versa is true. If you notice that you're on a downward spiral, if all of a sudden you're starting to eat unhealthy. Maybe you're starting to watch TV that isn't empowering you. Maybe you're starting to doubt your self environment a little bit. Maybe you're starting to notice that the people you're hanging out with aren't actually doing healthy things. They're not really growing and improving. What you're saying is, is that by default, I'm allowing the environments around me to bring me down. You're doing life by default. Very very cool concept that had a profound impact on my life, probably one of the most life changing things I ever learned in the 10 years of doing Unmistakable Creative, and I'm pretty sure this is one of our most popular episodes to date. Some of you have probably heard this before, because I know you're listeners of ours. I want to show you a diagram that comes from Jim Bunch's company called the Ultimate Game of Life. These are basically what he calls the 9 Environments that Make up Your Life. Your self environment, your body, your spiritual, your relationships, your network, your financial, your physical, your nature, your body and all of it combined makes up an environment called you. We've been talking about this primarily in the context of creative work and being able to design systems for creativity, but this isn't just about creativity. It applies to virtually every area of your life. What I want to encourage each one of you to do is to design environments that are conducive to the person that you want to become. The car that you drive, the clothes that you wear, the information that you consume, the people that you surround yourself with, the food that you eat. All that operates as one interdependent system. Every single thing affects the other. You really want to get deliberate about how you're going to set up your environment. Very funny story, I was with my business partner Brian one day, I was at a coffee shop. I had just returned from this speaking engagement, and I was commenting to him. I said, hey, this girl over there keeps looking at me. He said, that's 'cause you're dressed like you're rich and successful. I said, well I think I'm gonna start dressing a little better, even when I go to have coffee from now on. It's amazing because the way you dress affects the way you feel. It's one of the fastest ways to change the way you feel. One of the temptations when we work at home or when we work as freelancers, is to wake up and just hang around in our pajamas all day. I know 'cause I do it sometimes. I noticed that if I take a shower, and I get ready, and I make a point to get dressed in the morning, the whole day is very different. I feel like I am on cloud nine, because I've made a deliberate choice to set my environment up in a way that is conducive to the person that I want to become. I actually want to turn this briefly over to you guys both for questions, and I'd really like to hear from each of you about what kind of changes you anticipate making to your environments, based on everything we've talked about here. Let's start with you. I'm excited to get home and clean out my desk space. I used to work in co-working space and had a desk there, but then found that I wasn't going just 'cause my day is so erratic and it didn't really make sense to go, and tied to my kitchen meal prepping, going back and forth to the gym. The desk space for me is my hub. It's also right near the front door, and it's also where we come through the door and just drop the stuff there. I've kind of been in this space where I've working on the couch and just not being able to get the deep work done that I need to because my desk has been utter chaos. That's step one for me. Cool, Mark. I asked you how long you've doing that practice, because I've been doing it for probably five or six years. It's an ebb and flow, and I can think of ... In my office there's a row of tennis shoes. Why do I need five pairs of tennis shoes, or whatever? So I'm gonna get rid of those, and then there's some piles on my desk. Once you let one little thing there, and then you go okay, there's already a little pile, I can just add to it. There's just two minutes I can just scoop that up and get rid of it. The desk and the shoes is gonna be the little ... I think I'm gonna actually, my books. I think what you said really hit home, 'cause I have a lot of books that I probably don't really need anymore, and it actually takes space for the ones that you buy that you don't read. You're like, oh god, I've got to get to that, and then I just let it go. I actually just went through this process of clearing out all these different spaces. I started with my clothes, that was the easiest one to start with. I got rid of six bags, and that was the gateway of then going through every little space. I've just gone through all of my drawers as well. The biggest changes I've made was actually a reaction to watching Queer Eye, and seeing these transformations that people go through on that show, and the different coaches that they have to go through that process. I was looking at all the design spaces that are created, and I looked at my room, and I compared it to the end that's on the show and said, that's not a match. I can make those changes. I had, I confess, a ton of books lined up under a window sill, but not in shelves, and they were against a couch that was taking up a lot of space that I never used. I essentially used the couch as shelf space. So I got rid of the couch, and I bought shelves, and now all those books are in there, and you're challenging me now to go through that next step of deciding which books to keep, 'cause I just kept all of them. They're beautiful and arranged very nicely, but I don't need all of them. So that's, I think, the next step that I need to take. What have you noticed after making these changes in terms of the way you feel, in terms of everything else that's going on? I have a lot more energy. I have a lot more clarity. I feel more comfortable and confident. Probably the biggest one related to everything that you've been talking about was turning off Facebook for a while. I was involved in a group, and we were reading a book and it talked about fasting. I wasn't sure what I wanted to fast. I was going through a job search at the time, and so I was supposed to working on my job search, but I found myself on Facebook. There was my answer. I needed to fast Facebook. I did for 21 days and I was instantly happier. I think you're doing great. I really appreciate what Cal Newport has to say about this. He's been a very vocal proponent of quitting Facebook, and some of what he wrote yesterday was pretty mind blowing. I'm excited to have him on.

Class Description

Whether you know it or not, there are a whole host of things that either stimulate or obstruct your productivity and creativity. Where you work, the people you see, the equipment you use, the sounds you hear, the information you consume—every aspect of your environment and daily habits has a major impact on your performance as a creator.

If you want to have more control over the quality of your work, you need to consciously design the systems, environments, and habits that will allow you to succeed. This course will help you do just that.

Author, instructor, and popular podcaster Srinivas Rao will show you how to eliminate the things that are draining your creativity and mental energy—from distracting devices to annoying noises to poorly designed offices. Then he’ll help you create the surroundings and develop the practices that activate the unconscious mind and produce creative breakthroughs.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Assess the environments in your life and figure out how to optimize them.
  • Set up your technical devices to get rid of distractions and reduce the flow of information.
  • Manage your attention so you can encourage flow and reach peak performance.
  • Create habits and rituals that promote creativity and productivity.
  • Choose the right collaborators who will compensate for your weaknesses and expand your capabilities.


Melissa Dinwiddie

What a fabulous class! Srini covered one actionable idea after another that can be implemented immediately to fuel creativity right out of the gate. And the beautiful thing is that each tactic builds on all the others, so every little step you take will improve your overall systems. I loved the stories from his podcast and the guest speakers, too. My only complaint was that some of the slides had a lot of text on them -- too much to read. Other than that, it was well-organized, thoughtful, and super useful. I've already recommended it to several people in passing.

Kathryn Kilner

This is a great course for anyone pursuing creative work. It is easy to get distracted in the modern world and Srinivas provides practical insights and tested systems for empowering creatives to focus and get more done. Although I've read a lot about how to optimize my habits, I was challenged in this course to think differently about how I structure my time and my work space. The changes I've made have helped me be more productive.

a Creativelive Student

I've watched many CreativeLive courses. While I find many interesting, there are only a handful that capture my attention from beginning to end. This was one of those. The speaker mentioned countless gems that were applicable not only to creativity and productivity, but to how one lives daily life. There were multiple "deep thoughts" and several practical ways to alter one's environments (including physical and mental) in order to enhance productivity and general well-being. I've already implemented a few suggestions, and am anxious to revisit my notes on this course repeatedly.