This new year, whether you are still working from home or going back to the office or workplace, it is important that you keep yourself productive throughout the whole day. This can be difficult if the environment you are in is distracting you more than motivating you to accomplish all your tasks.
The layout of your desk, flow of people around you and overall vibe of your work space affect your ability to stay motivated more than you think. This is because multiple visual stimuli are fighting for your attention and keeping you from focusing or devoting your time to productive tasks.
We spend an average of 40 hours a week in our work space – that’s about 2,080 hours a year not including holidays. With the amount of time we spend in this area, we want to make it as comfortable as possible a place to work in.
Here are some easy ways to make your space more conducive for working:
- Get some natural light
Lighting plays a big part in our ability to concentrate. While artificial lights can mimic or produce different brightness levels, we work best in natural light.
If possible, work near a window or anywhere you can get as much natural light as you can. This will help you feel awake and energized. If you can find a cozy space near a window or have an outdoor area that’s fit for a small home office, having some fresh air could help improve your mood even more.
- Keep the temperature at a comfortable level
Extreme temperatures – both too hot and too cold — can impact one’s ability and concentration to work negatively. Cold temperatures cause muscles to tense, which can then can affect your ability to function properly. Temperature also influences our mood: Our brain tends to associate coldness with isolation and warmth with connection.
It is ideal then that you work in a temperature that is comfortable for you. The recommended temperature for work spaces is 21.5 degrees Celsius. If it gets too cold, a jacket or warm drink may help. If it’s too hot, wear loose clothing. The idea is to be at your most comfortable so you can focus on what needs to be done instead of your own feelings of unease.
- Bring in some plants
Plants can make any space feel more alive, so why not your work space?
Plants can make us feel less constrained by our surroundings and more relaxed. They also improve the air quality since they naturally reduce ozone levels and increase oxygen, especially in enclosed spaces. Also, bringing a sense of the outdoor into your work area could improve your mood a little.
Bring in a potted plant or two to your work area. You can even put a small one on your tabletop: Small succulents or similar easy-to-maintain plants are now easily available from the many plantitos and plantitas around. You can even try your luck with a small pot of lavender for that relaxing vibe.
- Organize your desk
You may not realize it yet, but you lose a considerable amount of time whenever you look for an item on your cluttered desk. Reduce the time you waste looking for things so you will have more time for the more important tasks.
Get your things organized by getting rid of stuff you don’t need and putting items in places you would remember. Use storage boxes or mugs to keep your work supplies organized and easy to find. Also, remember that your work table is for work. It’s not a dump site for all your other things.
- Adjust the height of your monitor
To avoid straining your neck and back, make sure the top of your monitor is at eye-level when you are facing directly forward. This will also help improve your posture as it will prevent you from slouching in your seat.
A laptop stand might help give your laptop added elevation. You can also make-do with stacking books under your laptop. Just make sure they aren’t wobbly.
- Switch to an ergonomic chair
Could it be your aching back is the reason you are so distracted from work?
This may be due to an uncomfortable chair and wrong posture. An ergonomic chair might provide the solution. But as many ergonomic chairs can be pretty expensive, try adjusting the height of your chair so that your feet rest on the floor comfortably. A footrest or stool can help.
To support your lumbar, you can get a lower back pillow or cushion. If your chair has arms, align them so that your full forearm is supported. This will help avoid stretching your arm too much to reach for items such as your mouse. If your chair has no arms, adjust the distance between your desk and your chair.
- Create subspaces
Allow yourself different working environments within your work space by creating subspaces. These are different areas in your work space that can serve different purposes — a corner facing away from your laptop area for brainstorming or another chair for clearing your head. You may also explore the benefits of a standing desk for shorter tasks.
If you don’t have room for the examples mentioned above, you can treat your home pantry or a nearby coffeeshop as a sort of subspace. If your work area is small, a little corner of your desk can be for zoning out after a long meeting. You can put a poster of your favorite vacation place somewhere in your work space for a virtual get-away. Just make sure you have your email notifications on so that you don’t miss any important messages from your boss or coworkers.
- Learn from your other working environments
Do you remember the last time you worked in a place that wasn’t at home or in the office? Were you productive? Did you like working there? If so, you can try recreating that environment in your current work space.
Try to remember what aspects of that environment helped you become more productive – was it the lighting? the colors? the aroma? the quiet chatter of people around you? Bring these elements into your work space and you may find yourself more inspired to work.
Motivation won’t always be there when we need it, so it’s up to us to take matters into our own hands. Stay productive by making your work space as distraction-free and stimulating as you can. Remember, it’s your space so you decide what works best for you.