Number One: Determine what you see
Check in on your line of sight. A productive work space does include the tools necessary for your job: computer, phone, white board, etc. A productive work space may include comforting ascetics. A productive work space does not include clutter that drags away your attention or takes up your functional space.
- Angle your desk or work space to face a surface you can curate with your own materials.
- Keep To-Do lists in a prominent space.
- Maximize your flat empty space. Spread out when you need to, and then tuck things out of the way when not in use.
- Add one or two personal pieces to make you smile, such as a plant, photo or bobble head.
Number Two: Coordinate what you hear
Controlling the amount and types of sounds that enter your work space can have a large influence on productivity. Our brains can do this to a certain extent through a neurologic process called sensory gating. Background and other unimportant noises can be filtered out from cortical centers. Test this by trying to both listen to a TV and a radio. Two audio streams can be heard simultaneously, but actually listening to both is another challenge. Your focus dictates which set of information is given priority for interpretation. That being said, distracting noises still interfere with productivity.
- Choose silence. Purchase noise canceling head phones or find a solo workspace. Marcel Proust used to write with cork covering his windows while wearing ear plugs to filter out the noises of Paris outside his door.
- Choose music. Help your brain know the music isn’t a priority by playing an easy listening radio station or setting a streaming service to playlists of music without lyrics.
- Choose office norms. Discuss with those who share your work space the best way to help each other. If only one person needs music and the rest need silence, set norms such as appropriate volume levels or the use of head phones. Be considerate of others when using speaker phones or background conversations.
Number Three: Create homes for the clutter
This tip can be a tricky one. Decluttering and managing your physical space can feel emotionally draining, or thought of as low priority, and yet the benefits are immediate and tangible. Staring at a pile of things that need attention has the same effect as one might feel at the bottom step of a ten story stair case; you feel the exhaustion before you exert the effort.
- Organize drawers and shelf space.
- If it doesn’t have space in your organizational system, ask yourself if it is actually needed.
- Keep a trash can and recycling bin within reach for easy use, and actually use them.