The Challenge: Our desks are cluttered, and so are our minds.
The Science: Research confirms that people who work at clean desks perform better.
The Solution: Don’t just clean up! Redesign your space to maximize your productivity.
Even if we have a personal workspace, some of us still can’t seem to focus on work. Don’t rush to blame yourself. Sometimes, the environment we’re working in can affect our productivity. Here are 10 steps from an interior designer to take to make your desk more conducive for getting work done:
1. Mess=Stress: Clear the Clutter to Focus More
If you have nowhere to work, you won’t get anything done. Give yourself more space to breathe and work by finally cleaning up. Research shows that people who work at clean desks are more diligent and efficient. When there’s a tower of loose papers looming over you, you’re inevitably going to feel overwhelmed. Take a moment to sort through them, file what you need, and recycle the rest. This decluttering will make you feel happy, relieved, and more relaxed.
2. Lighten up!
Lighting is important if you want to stay focused, relaxed, and productive. People underestimate the importance of proper lighting. Bad lighting stresses you out, causes eyestrain, and gives you headaches (if you weren’t getting a migraine from all those deadlines already!). Open a window, bathe yourself in the sunshine, or if you can buy one, switch on a lamp!
3. Choose a Chair Like Goldilocks Would
If you have a desk job, you’ll know that getting the perfect chair is a must. Find a chair that fits you ergonomically and stands at the right height. A rule of thumb I follow is that when you’re using a computer, the top of your head should align with the top edge of the computer monitor. Place it close enough to your desk so that you don’t have to stretch to reach your computer.
4. The Lynchpin to your Productivity: Your Desk
A perfect chair is nothing without a great table. Select a table to match your comfy chair so that you can rest your arms on its surface. It should also have adequate surface area to give room for all of your things. If you can’t find a ready-made that fits your functional and fashionable needs, build your own! Pick up some wood, a good corded drill, nails, and paint, and make a project out of it.
5. Come to your Senses Once and For All
The second our noses pick up something stinky, our first instinct is to sniff out the source. 10 minutes later, we’ve completely torn our workspace apart and, in the futile search, created a mess that will take 10 more minutes to clean up. Avoid this pitfall by spritzing fragrances to cleanse the air and remove unpleasant odors that disturb your concentration. Detoxify the air with scented oils, dried leaves, or humidifiers. Your pick: your nose knows what it likes.
6. Spruce it Up!
You might be wary of adding more clutter to your desk since you just purged it of all excess. But certain decorations, like plants, for instance, can actually promote productivity. Research shows that “green offices” that transplant flora and fauna into business settings nurture employees’ happiness and productivity. Place a single-pot tall plant next to your desk or a smaller pot on top of it.
7. Have a ‘To-Do’ List
Now that you’ve got your environment clean and radiating productive vibes, you’re ready to work. Take out your “To-Do” list to train yourself to do tasks one at a time. Writing down and checking off your tasks one by one will force you to complete each project with intention. Multitasking might let you do several things at once, but studies show that you sacrifice the quality of your work when you do too many things at once.
8. Put a Calendar on Your Wall
Everyone relies on their phones and digital calendars to remind them of the next deadline. Become an independent taskmaster by pinning a large calendar marked with all your due dates on your wall. In doing so, you can visualize what your week and month look like whenever you’re working. If you know you have a busy week, you can plan ahead and establish target dates to finish tasks. A ‘To-do’ list can keep you focused on each discrete task; a calendar will allow you to look at the ‘big picture.’
9. Do not Disturb!
The phone’s ringing off the hook, your coworkers are chatting, and the cars trapped in a traffic jam are honking incessantly, orchestrating a symphony of dissonant disturbances. At this point, you’re ready to throw your arms up and call it a day. It’s actually quite easy to minimize if not completely, block out this senseless racket. You can play your favorite songs on your phone and set it to speakers. If you’re the type of person who likes complete silence, use earplugs or noise-canceling headphones.
10. Mobilize your Creativity
It’s not a secret that sitting all day at work can tire you out and wreak havoc on your physical health. Counteract your sedentary lifestyle with a DeskCycle! Research shows that exercise can boost your creativity and mood. If you need to completely get away from your desk, by all means, take a break. Research suggests that taking breaks just to stand can improve your attention and productivity. If you have room, get a standing desk: In the same study, almost 75 percent of those with a stand-capable desk in the study experienced less discomfort and fatigue compared to the control group, who were mostly sitting down.
If you’ve got work to do, maximizing your productivity is a must. Setting up your working area for you to focus on is important to get things done. Take these steps to organize your space, and you’ll not only get more done, but you’ll do a better job!