According to studies, your working habits are often related to your environment. If you have a good working environment, you might find it easier to get motivated, but there are sometimes things which can lurk beneath the surface. If you are ever in doubt about how your environment affects you, consider this study – students holding a hot cup of coffee before being asked to describe a person were more likely to describe the person as ‘warm and friendly’ than they were after holding an iced coffee.
So how do we create a productive environment? Follow the tips below!
Get Rid of Clutter
It can be easy to let clutter build up in your workspace – paperwork, stationary, and personal items, and for a long time, a cluttered desk has been associated with a creative mind, but it actually does more harm than good. Excess items in your workspace can make you unfocused and you could find it harder to process information. Physical items in your eye line compete for your attention, increasing stress. So how do we reduce clutter?
- Set limits and stick to them – Only five tabs open on your computer at once, only two notebooks on your desk and so on.
- Clean your desktop at the end of every day – wash cups, throw away rubbish and tidy away stationary.
- Conduct a monthly review – Once a month, take a look at everything on your desk and get rid of anything that doesn’t need to be there.
Aim for Natural Light
Sitting by the window and getting as much Vitamin D as possible will automatically make you feel happier and more productive. If you can move your workspace to a window, not only will you get more natural light, but you can also open the window to get more fresh air – another factor which improves productivity. If your office has limited natural light, try and invest in lighting which looks as natural as possible – LED bulbs work well, and they save energy and money. If you can’t choose your workspace, simply going for a walk outside can help you refocus.
Use Different Locations
Associating different areas of your workspace with different tasks is a great way to be more productive. This is known as task association – your brain knows that you are in a certain space, so it knows to undergo a certain task. For example, your desk and desktop computer are used for important analytical tasks, and then you have a casual seating area with a tablet which is used for meeting clients and generating ideas. You could then use a laptop solely for emails and social media management.
Cheat Your Way through Laziness
Willpower is a wonderful thing – it stops us from overeating, from getting too drunk and from staying up late for just one more episode, but it can be hard to put it into practice in the workplace. Our brains are trained to avoid hard tasks, so to get around this, you should design your workspace so that it is easier to do the tasks you want to do, and harder to do the things that you don’t. You can implement this technique as much as you like – you could commit to as little as switching your phone off and putting it out of sight or closing all of your tabs, leaving only the one that you are currently working on open.
Organise Your Emails
Emails can easily take over your working life. You can spend the first hours of the day responding to emails that have built up since you left the office last night, and by the time you’ve answered them, you have new ones to answer. It’s essentially a never-ending cycle of ‘inbox (1)’. Combat this by organising your emails into folders based on their priority- urgent aka read now, all the way through to emails which can be left until the end of the day when the other tasks are complete.
Mark Documents with an Expiry Date
Documents and paperwork can easily pile up – it’s a fact of life. Everyone knows that one colleague who has such a mountain of paper on their desk that it takes them forever to respond to anything. Don’t be that colleague – mark documents with an expiry date. When the documents are no longer needed, get rid of them and clear your desk. You can also sort the documents into three sections, whether this is on your computer or on your desk inbox, in-progress and complete.
Re-invent Office Communication
A lot of us prefer to stay behind our screens when it comes to communicating with our colleagues. However, all this does is add a delay to the process – how long have you waited for someone to respond to an email when you could have just walked over to their desk? You can eliminate this period of limited productivity by encouraging direct, in-person communication.
It’s easy to become more productive by adapting your workspace. Simply keep a clutter-free desk with plenty of natural light, and ensure that you have different areas for different tasks. Lastly, revolutionise the way that you manage your emails and documents – you’ll be surprised at how effective the results are.
About the Author:
Leila Jones is a content writer for https://www.firstlighting.co.uk/ -a UK LED lighting store. She is a Public Relations graduate from Sheffield Hallam University.