Transform Your Workspace into a Productive Haven.
Whether you work from home or in an office, recently you’ve probably been trying more than ever to find simple but effective hacks to make your workspace as productive as possible. If you are prone to distractions, or just simply can’t seem to concentrate, this article was made for you.
These tips are not your average ones but they have changed not only the aesthetics of the space I chose to work in but actually how I work in it. Are you tired of having 10 – 12 hour days and end up with not much ticked off your to-do list, with no free time left? Don’t worry this is all about to change. Hot on the lips of many, from gurus to Silicone Valley CEOs, how we work is changing. It’s no longer about how long we work but how productive we can be in a shorter amount of time. This is the new meaning of hard work. Rest is a fundamental factor you need to add to your day to perform at your utmost proactive and productive self.
Without further ado, let’s jump in!
1. Keeping It Tidy
Having the ultimate successful and productive workspace can only begin with a clean and mess-free space. Otherwise, how do you expect to find that phone number you jotted down or that letter you stashed away in the draw? Would you want to cook in a messy kitchen? Probably not.
- So first things first, it’s time for a de-clutter! – Being brutal with what you keep and what you don’t is very much needed at the start, so grab a bin bag. Go through everything starting from what’s on your desk to what’s within. Ask yourself if you will need this in the future? Is there an alternative way you could store this (e.g. on your laptop) until you have done a thorough office spring clean. Keep a bin near or under your desk for the future.
- Organise, organise, organise! – To keep your workspace as tidy and productive as possible, make it easier for yourself. We all know the feeling when you have a hundred and one tasks on your to-do list and ‘keeping things neat’ is last on your list. So making sure you have the right tools in place will make the difference – trust me. Here’s a list of things to help:
- Separators for your draws; an easy way to keep the small things like pens tidy whilst not ruining the aesthetic of your workspace.
- Kraft Wallet Organisers – if you often have several different things going on at once, these are a lifesaver! Keeping a file for every on-going project allows you to store any notes, papers and letters in one place. Another little hack is to use post-it notes for each task on your to-do list and stick them according to files.
- Clear Away After Your Day – This habit will make it much easier to start the next day refreshed and with a productive workspace, so you are raring to go!
Has your home past the stage of a quick de-clutter? Read my 6 Easy Tips To Get Rid Of Clutter In Your Home to make your seasonal spring-clean truly sensational.
Why is it so important to mark the end of your work day?
Another incredibly positive effect clearing your desk will have, is marking the start of your evening and as I like to call it, ‘unwind time‘. This is especially important now due to our offices being at home; it can be even harder to stop and give yourself that much-needed rest. Although tempting to answer emails all evening, it can lead to over-exhaustion and burn out.
As spoken about in Dr Rangan Chatterjee’s Podcast on ‘How to work less and get more done’, this is counter-intuitive to our productivity and wellbeing levels. In this podcast he interviews Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, a highly successful businessman from Silicone Valley. In 2018 he wrote a book about the 4-day work week and why it may become more common in the future.
By packing away your workspace at the end of the day, you will help halt your churning brain. Giving yourself the opportunity to rest properly and let your subconscious mind take over.
Interested in shortening your days? Get Alex Soojung-Kim Pang’s book to reach your goals: ‘Why You Get More Done When You Work Less’ here.
2. Indoor Plants
Keeping a potted plant on your workspace is not simply for aesthetics. A 2007 study proved that indoor plants can reduce office air pollution by 25%. Furthermore, cleaner air increases productivity by 8-11%! Beware red plants though, as according to Charles Spence in his book ‘Sensehacking’, they increase fatigue. Consider small, lightly scented plants which are more effective in terms of our health and well-being.
Another way to improve the air quality of your productive workspace is by sitting next to, or near, a window. In the soon-to-come Spring and Summer months, you can open it up and listen to the birds and breathe in that sweet air! Placing yourself near a window has the added benefit of exposure to natural light. According to a study conducted by Alan Hedge, a professor in the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis at Cornell, people who work in daylit office environments reported an 84 per cent drop in symptoms of eyestrain, headaches and blurred vision symptoms, which detract from productivity.
You could also move outside completely for the day, an option we will soon have, depending on the weather!
Read my article on ‘8 Little Things To Start Your Day With A Smile’
3. Clever With Colours
Colours are not only essential for the aesthetics of your home but also impact our behaviour and productivity levels. We all know that an environment that looks good makes you feel even better
Green – improves efficiency and focus; great for concentration which is exactly what you want. The harder you work in a shorter amount of time will decrease the chance of distractions and boredom, thus increasing productivity. Green is also the colour of nature which has been proven to relax us – going back to nature is part of our instincts.
Blue – Colour psychologists recommend using blue colours in workspaces to improve productivity and cognitive flow. It also encourages feelings of serenity and relaxes us. Blue is a very easy colour to add into interiors but picking the right one is extremely important. Too light and it can seem like a dentist’s practice, too dark will resemble black which is proven to cause stress.
My final recommendation is orange – controversial? Most definitely! But don’t be scared, you can add colour in subtle ways and it doesn’t always have to be an entire wall. According to ancient Feng Shui principles, orange is a “yang” colour which stimulates focus, promoting organization and concentration. However, don’t be misled with red. Although similarly bold and energetic, red helps with shorter bursts of energy. It may not be the best choice for an office but for a gym on the other hand, red would be a perfect fit.
How can I use colours without painting an entire wall?
- Use paintings to add a burst of colour.
- Add lamps, coasters and office accessories, for a subtle but fun addition – a highly cost-effective route.
- Use paint to highlight but not cover your walls. For instance, paint around your window sill or paint the shelving.
- Use the furniture as your colour focal point to make a beautiful statement. Your office chair for example or desk. You could either go modern and buy something bright and bold, or use a more vintage style such as gorgeous colours over wood.
Aromatherapy plays a huge and unexpected role in how we can change our moods and behaviours. For example, you’ve probably heard of using lavender essential oils in your evening baths to encourage a night of peaceful and deep sleep. Same as when you have a chamomile tea after dinner which helps you feel sleepy. Well, good news, some wonderful scents do exactly the opposite which heightens your alertness and energy levels. You can feel raring to go by a simple scent-hack!
Professor Charles Spence is the world’s expert in multisensory perception and experience design. For over 20 years he has studied how our senses effect us and how we can use sense hacking to live healthier and happier lives. He’s even written a book filled to the brim with sense knowledge that will improve how you work, live, eat and shop.
These are my top 4 go-to scents for my productive workspace:
- Citrus scents have been proven to improve cognitive function and decrease the number of mistakes you make. A Japanese study found that workers made 54 percent fewer errors when smelling lemons.
2. Jasmine, Thai researchers have found, increases the number of beta waves in certain parts of the brain that control positive emotion and activity levels.
3. Peppermint aroma has been proven to improve sustained attention, alertness and memory retention. Much like how we feel refreshed by the smell of toothpaste in the morning when brushing our teeth. Interestingly, some toothpaste companies do have different scented tubes of toothpaste for the evening, so we feel more relaxed. Admittedly I think I’d rather give this particular sense hack a miss…
4. Pine – One Japanese study, showed that walking through a pine forest reduces stress. Pine is also used to elevate the mood, since it has an anti-depressant effect. This scent can increase alertness and help clear the head to allow the ultimate focus.
5. Get Personal
Introducing your own personal flair to your workspace is the key to achieving ultimate productivity. When you feel at home and happy in a space, you are much more likely to act accordingly to that feeling. This is why interiors and our environment play such a key role in our overall wellbeing and day to day lives.
So how can you achieve this?
A great way to do this is by printing photographs as these remind us of the people, places and activities we love. We can use this to our great advantage, especially when it comes down to making your workspace more productive. When we see these images, the feeling of joy will motivate us to do better and work harder, thanks to our clearer and happier mental space.
Photos will also motivate you to get the work done faster, so you can spend more time with loved ones, or doing the hobbies you love in your spare time. For example, if you spend your weekends going for long walks, you could have a photo of your favourite view.
Print out motivational quotes from people who inspire you and your work; maybe a writer, CEO, or guru, whoever it is will be a brilliant visual reminder. It has certainly helped me push through that last hour, or start my day when I’d prefer to stay in bed…
Vision boards work very similarly, however instead of just one or two quotes, you can have as many as you want and print out anything that reminds you of your goals. They can also be a great way to add a burst of colour to your workspace.
Inkifi is a flawless high quality and sustainable printing service which never fail to impress from a simple photo print to a more detailed poster or photo book. And on top of that they are well priced – gone are the days of printing poor quality photos from my printer!
Read my article on: How To Transform Your House To A Home so you can add your personal touch to your home!
The Takeaway For A Productive Workspace:
- Keep it Tidy
- Add Indoor Plants
- Use colours in a clever way
- Focus on aromatherapy
- Make your space personal to you