How aware are you of your space in relation to your productivity? Our physical surroundings can give us—or drain from us—a remarkable amount of energy. Our “stuff” can create barriers for our thinking and our growth, which means that your primary space of work has a direct effect on your output. The poor lighting, uncomfortable chair, piles of papers, and unnecessary distractions are hindering your ability to perform at your best. Implement the 5 tools below to optimize your productivity by setting up your desk for success.
1. Less is more
The brain has a limited capacity to process information—studies have shown that the brain is able to absorb only 1% of the visual information presented. This means that looking at too many things at once overloads the visual cortex, which reduces the brain’s ability to process information, focus, and make decisions. For the brain, less is actually more. That’s why you should declutter your desk so it only holds what you actually use every day. Identify the essentials that need to be there, and store all non-essentials in an organized manner in drawers or compartments under or beside your desk—not in your visual That means keeping even decorative elements to a minimum (we suggest 1-3). The more there is around you, the more energy the stuff is taking from you and from all the things you could be creating.
2. Start Fresh
One of the best ways to have a productive workday is to start fresh. Imagine coming in to a clutter-free and clean desk first thing in the morning. When you first arrive in the morning, your energy should not be zapped by yesterday’s to-dos. This can be your most productive time, so you want to optimize it for success. The best way to ensure this happens is to create a ritual of cleaning up before the end of your day. Allocate 10-15 minutes at the end of your day to put things away, clean things up, and get things ready for the next day. Give yourself the daily gift of starting fresh, and who knows what you can create!
3. Have a toy
Have something close by or on your desk that you can play with when you are stuck for ideas. Instead of switching your attention to your phone or computer, try playing with Baoding balls, stress balls, fidget spinners, Buddha boards, or just a scratch pad to doodle—anything that inspires play, joy, or freedom and does not use a digital screen. This will allow your brain to wander without sucking your creative energy and zapping your day away. It’s important to actively decide what you allow to distract you and create healthy barriers. We all need to daydream here and there, but doing it mindfully will have a positive effect on your creativity.
4. Create a healthy setup
Sitting is not an ideal position for the body to be productive for long periods of time. The setup of your chair, lighting, air, keyboard, and screen all play a role in your performance. The sounds, position, tilt, and height of these things all affect your output. To start, make sure that your desk is as ergonomic as possible. Next, do an all-senses scan—pay attention to what you smell, see, hear, and feel. Check that your desk is getting enough light and the air quality is good. Try adding a potted plant to the environment. If you spend some time setting up your desk to promote the health of your body, your mind will be able to perform at its best.
No matter how perfect your desk space is, if you are just sitting there all day, it’s going to cause a decrease in your productivity. The brain needs blood flow to stay creative and novelty to inspire new perspectives. You can increase your productivity by getting up, stretching, and moving at least once every hour. So, get outside and stimulate your body and brain with air and light. Take some time each day, or a couple times a week, to switch up where you work. Make an effort to change rooms, positions, and locations, and you might be surprised by the insights that are evoked.