Distractions leak into your workspace and make it difficult to focus on tasks. Street sounds penetrate through the window, and you can’t find the right playlist to drown out the noise. Nothing ever gets organized to your liking. Enough clutter makes you feel creative, but too much clutter dampers your workflow inspiration.
Not to mention the fact that everyone believes you have just a minute to spare for their latest need unrelated to work. Those minutes add up and detract from your productivity for the day.
It’s natural to lose track of a positive mood and solid work ethic when you’re stuck in one place for most of the day, bombarded with deadlines and distractions. It’s not solely the distractions that take away from getting work done. It comes down to your workspace and how that reflects your mission, mood and personality — you must tailor your space to your workflow style and needs. More importantly, feeling good about your workspace matters.
Feeling Good About Your Workspace Matters
Albert Einstein was fond of a cluttered desk, and a just-right mix of clutter kept him engaged. Too much clutter or a boring office, however, serve as sources of distraction.
Not only are you troubled about making deadlines for clients, but you get distracted by the mess of your workspace. Does your workspace reflect what you bring to the table professionally? Does it showcase your brand in a way that evokes your mission? What about your personality?
All of these things matter. How you feel about your workspace matters and influences the work you produce and your mood on a daily basis. When you nurture your workplace happiness, you can improve productivity by 20 percent. Get yourself out of a cramped, cluttered and inefficient office, and focus on cultivating a workspace that fosters happiness and productivity. Try these ten upgrades you can make to your workspace to get more done.
1. Hang Art, Especially Nature Photos
Most would agree that a third or more of life is spent working, much like dreaming. When you’re sitting at your desk during a boring work day, you daydream about being elsewhere — like on a beach sipping your favorite cocktail.
Beach therapy helps you to de-stress, but work keeps you occupied and away from taking those much-needed vacation days. That’s where art comes into assist — hanging art, especially nature photos, makes workers feel inspired and clients made comfortable. Art adds personality to a room, creating a sense of authenticity and openness. That’s the reason why many offices include motivational posters, but often, those aren’t your cup of tea.
So, create your own — make it into a vision board. Think about distant beaches and expansive mountains in countries you’d like to save up for and travel to see. While it’s best to get out in nature, photos and posters of your favorite breathtaking, natural landscapes will make it feel easier for you to breathe through the day and into your workflow.
2. Declutter Your Workspace
Clutter competes with your work for your attention. Some professionals do better with a little organized chaos, but at least there’s some form of organization. If you can find what you’re looking for, feel inspired and get work done, where’s the problem with a little mess?
Declutter your workspace to look at the potential of the space you have to work within. The average individual spends 4.3 each week looking for paper, which boosts stress levels and hinders creative thought. That’s about 206 hours lost every year to searching for that misplaced contract you “just saw.” When you open up your workspace, you open up your mind and creativity to focus on the tasks ahead.
Try this rule: eliminate ten items in ten minutes. Set the timer and knock out ten items total. Gather three bags or boxes and label each: storage, donation and toss. It’s best if you leave storage out of the picture, but do what you need to do to have peace of mind in your workspace. Productivity is at stake.
Donate what you can — you don’t need three staplers. When was the last time you used that filing cabinet? Okay, so the filing cabinet won’t fit in the box, but you can schedule to deliver it your area thrift store.
Storage is a last resort, so use it wisely. Make this box the smallest to limit your temptation to keep everything within eyesight that should really be discarded.
3. Hack Productivity With the Right Gadgets
Thankfully, this is the Technological Age and gadgets are here to assist you with keeping up your productivity levels. Gadgets and devices themselves aren’t guilty of your distraction occurring — they provide temptation. It’s always best to limit distraction by uninstalling or hiding specific apps, for example.
Don’t knock the power of the right gadgets to boost your productivity. For example, there are fidget pens that offer discrete fiddling points for you to push through that boring meeting or conference call. There’s also a magnetic clip-on that corrects your posture when you slouch for too long at your desk. Use a solar charger with a plug-in option if you get to take your work outdoors.
Here are other gadgets to include in your office arsenal: noise-canceling headphones, an anxiety-measuring biofeedback device and a tabletop lamp that adjust ambient lighting itself.
Your office doesn’t have to feel like a technological desert if you’re trying to quit social media distractions cold turkey. Hack productivity by investing in the right technology to keep you on track. Fidget? Get a fidget pen. Got a bad back at the end of the day from slouching? Buzz yourself away with a posture-correcting clip-on device. Technology distracts, but it also astounds and keeps you focused when used wisely.
4. Use Voice Recognition Virtual Assistant Tools
Would you love an assistant but can’t afford one? Streamline your day’s tasks by investing in virtual assistant tools that use voice recognition.
You don’t have to use pen and paper or tire your fingers out any longer. Got an Android smartphone? Enable your Google Assistant and let your voice take action — look for the microphone icon and tap it to record a text message or email. You need the Gmail app to utilize the voice feature. Other phone types also have similar voice to text features, or you can search for an app to assist.
Are you a Windows user? Press the Windows key + Shift + C or search through the microphone feature to find and open Cortana. It’ll help you remember tasks and deadlines when you use typical conversational language to engage it like you would any assistant, such as “Remind me to book a hair appointment for next Tuesday.”
You can ask Alexa and other virtual assistant tools to play white or ambient noise on a loop to push out distracting noises, especially if you don’t want to invest in the noise-canceling headphones yet.
5. Use Smart Email Assistants
Email takes up a large part of your work day — 2.5 hours of time checking your inbox to be exact for the average person. For many, that amounts to 15 times a day. How much did you get paid to check your email today?
While you may find a bit of humor in that, spending too much time checking your email detracts from the work you could provide for your clients. It’s best to schedule out these time periods, but you can’t predict when important emails arrive.
Use smart email assistants to balance your temptation to check email for important messages and stay on the ball with your tasks. Many assistants can snooze emails while others learn your habits to quickly address the right emails and bring them to your attention. For example, where KnowMail finds important emails based on your previous actions, Trove allows you to track when a recipient opens an email. You can schedule emails in other apps.
6. Work in Bursts With Pomodoro Apps
Working on a deadline? Working too close to the deadline? Minimize distractions and optimize your breaks by working in bursts with the Pomodoro technique made popular by Francesco Cirillo. You must work with intent for a longer period of time and get a quick break. FocusBooster is one an example of a popular Pomodoro app, but others exist to assist.
Work for a longer set amount of time, such as 25 minutes, and then take a short two-minute break. Later on, you get a longer break. Many apps also allow you to customize these times to suit your workflow style better.
7. Stand — Don’t Sit
Many workers now rely on standing desks to switch up their positions through the course of the day. Many of today’s jobs involve you sitting down and bending over your computer for all hours of the day. It’s natural that you would slouch your shoulders and sink into the chair.
It’s important to maintain good posture, with bending your arms at a natural 45-degree angle. Try to keep your back straight but not like an ironing board.
Some gadgets buzz you to correct your posture. There’s an alternative if you don’t like the idea of “electroshock” posture-correcting therapy while you work. Stand — don’t sit. New innovations in office furniture allow sitting desks to convert into standing desks, so you can change your posture without adversely affecting your workflow. It’s not healthy to sit or stand for too long, so make sure you’re alternating between positions.
Take a break at least once every hour and walk around to stretch your legs. Ideally, get out in nature and breathe the fresh air for part of the day. Changing up your environment may make you feel more inspired.
8. Get More Self Control
What does being a hard worker mean to you? Many believe you only excel through strict self-discipline, but life happens — circumstances outside of your control invade your workflow. Some days, it takes every ounce of self-control you have to make it through the day. You can control some things in your life to reduce the risk of distraction.
Do you have an addiction to social media or other online sites? Use a restriction app to block temptation on the net cold turkey. One example includes an app called SelfControl, but be aware that this app blocks everything. Others allow you to set particular exceptions for access, depending on the app, but it’s generally best to block all distractions, from Facebook to Reddit.
Try out a few internet restriction apps if you give in to the temptation to check social media too often. You will focus more intently your work and feel less anxious.
9. Invest in a Goal Planning Notebook
What’s your five-year plan? What about your ten-year plan? Expressing and writing down your professional goals are important to achieving them — otherwise, they float around in your brain without becoming reality.
When most people think of planning, they think of making a to-do list or establishing a schedule. Goal-setting is both measurable and holistic as an activity. Try an engaging goal planner that helps you identify and innovate your goals into reality, such as the 90x Goal Planner Notebook or the Slice Planner Connected Digital Notebook. The later is a hybrid notebook, on paper and as an app, which gives you a holistic circular diagram to monitor and track your goals as they evolve.
Don’t be afraid to dream big, but make goals that are accessible and achievable. Start with small steps and write about your thoughts, feelings, fears, and triumphs during the process. Each step is a check off a box on the way to achieving an important goal.
10. Replicate Elements of Productivity From Other Places
Sometimes, traditional offices don’t lend themselves to cultivating a productive environment. The walls and furniture are bland, better to fit a generalized norm and aesthetic. Aside from the odd motivational poster or geometric artwork, what do you have to pull from for inspiration?
This leads to staring at your arms and counting the freckles to pass the time. You look up and exactly one minute and fourteen seconds have passed. Time slows down when you’re bored and uninspired.
Get creative as possible with your office environment. Make it suit your workflow and your personality. When you feel more comfortable, you will be more productive. Add a throw for warmth and a pillow to support your back. Include photos of your family and your favorite inspirational quotes.
What are the places where you the most productive? Replicate elements of this environment.
Is it a coffee shop? Think about the type of music and the level of sound. Place artwork on the walls. Create a mini coffee and tea station for yourself. Give yourself room to spread out at your desk if that’s what you usually do at the coffee shop table.
You can’t magically transport yourself to the place you feel most productive all the time, but you can cultivate a similar environment for yourself. What’s best is that you have the ability to customize and improve upon the atmosphere. All those little details come together to create the perfect environment for productivity.
Enjoy Yourself and Your Work Within Your Space
Your workspace should be a place that you come to feeling joy, inspiration and motivation on a daily basis. Many people don’t realize how much of their life and valuable time they give away to distraction. Business hours waste away while you search for paperwork and check endless emails.
Unhealthy workplace culture and habits find their way to your desk and affect your productivity adversely. Bland walls and decorations with pressure to put your nose to the grindstone and produce leave you with a bad back and grumpy attitude. What work you do produce becomes infected with this negativity.
You must feel good about your workspace. Add art and nature photos that inspire your vision. Make your space comfortable enough to focus, center yourself and engage, minus the negative effects of distraction. Invest in a convertible desk to change from a sitting to a standing position as your body demands a shift.
The right gadgets will see you through a tough work day while cutting out distractions, such as social media. Get more self-control by using websites and apps to block distractions from your view, so temptation won’t strike. Quit distraction cold turkey, and stay away from negative internet news.
Your goals are what really matter — from the smallest of tasks to the biggest of items on your business bucket list. Dare to dream, but remember to take a small step toward your goals every day. A goal planning notebook or app helps you check in with yourself when you’re having a rough day while keeping you focused.
It’s about taking ownership. You can’t control all distractions, but those aren’t the root of the issue. You must feel good about the space you come to work within. Amazing ideas and works are born from this place.
Upgrade your workspace to get more done and thrive. Taking ownership of your space also means taking ownership of your mind, work ethic and productivity. When your workspace best suits you, you will produce your best work.
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