Although the office is supposed to be a place for productive and efficient work, that isn't always the case. In fact, sometimes your workplace can turn into one of the least effective locations for getting things done. Instead of succumbing to reduced productivity, here are 10 ways to help you create a more focused work environment.
Image: StockLite (Shutterstock).
10. Use Unusual Items To Better-Organize Your Workspace
I organise a large portion of my home office with the help of kitchen objects. For example, bowls are great for both general offices supplies and CDs/DVDs. A lunch tray can also make a handy drawer organiser. When I initially posted these options, our friends over at Unplggd came up with a few more, such as this napkin holder as a tablet stand. The idea is pretty simple: just because it was designed for your kitchen doesn't mean it won't be a very useful upgrade for your workspace.
9. Implement the Reproducible Elements of the Locations Where You're Most Productive
Sometimes we don't work best in an office because we're more productive in a coffee shop. And if not a coffee shop, perhaps underneath a tree on a sunny day or in a quiet, solitary room. Whatever the case may be, location makes a difference for everyone in different ways. If you pay attention to your emotional responses to locations when working, you can start to dissect why those locations make you more productive. Doing so gives you an opportunity to identify elements in certain locations that you can reproduce later. You may not always be able to transport yourself to the place you find you're most productive, but if your office can feel a little more like that location you can tap into what makes it your favourite place to work.
8. Put Together a Work-Friendly Playlist
Working in silence all day isn't necessarily the most productive option. In fact, music can make you more productive. Some classical music has been suspected to boost your spatial-temporal reasoning (although not everyone agrees), but the rhythm and pace of the music you're listening to can also help to get you moving at the right pace. On top of that, music can elicit a useful emotional response to get you going when motivation is lacking and block out other distractions that would be considerably more audible in a silent room.
7. Organise Your Daily Communication
Your workspace isn't the only thing that requires organisation. If you're not organising your communication to utilise speed-appropriate channels, you're wasting valuable time. Sometimes writing an email is the best way to handle an issue, but other times you can be more effective via Twitter, text message or instant messaging. Or you may be able to talk through an issue much faster than writing about it. Before choosing to communicate using your default means, think about what the fastest and most effective method would be. Once you start sorting your communication effectively, you'll free up much more of your time to do the work you need to get done.
6. Organise Office Drawers by Importance for Quick Access to Essential Items
Searching for items in your desk drawers obviously isn't productive if you're disorganised, but having everything in its place isn't necessarily the most efficient way to access your items. You also ought to create a hierarchy so your most commonly used items are in the top drawer and the content of the remaining drawers is less relevant as you work your way down. This way you'll spend little time looking for items as the drawer that's easiest to access will be the one that you reach for first.
5. Reduce Eye Strain When Staring at a Screen All Day
Many of us have jobs that require us to stare at a computer screen all day and this isn't good for our eyes. Fortunately, free software comes to the rescue. First, EyeDefender can help remind you to take a break from your screen at regular intervals so you don't come down with Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). There are also a few options for making reading easier on your eyes in low light. A neat app called F.lux can alter your screen brightness (and colour) as the day goes on to make it gentler on your eyes. Every little bit can help if you have to stare at a screen but aren't too excited about going blind anytime soon.
4. Creatively Conceal (or Display) Your Cables
There are many ways to manage and hide your cables. You can use PVC pipe, a drawer pull, a coiled phone cord, binder clips and magnets, paper towel tubes and much more. Alternatively, if hiding your cables isn't an option (or you'd just prefer not to), there are creative ways to display them in plain sight. All you need is a good pattern and you're set. Either way, cable clutter is one of the must frustrating problems to deal with on a regular basis and also distracting to look at. If you put some time into fixing it now, you'll have a much more productive future.
3. Keep Your Work Files In Sync Everywhere You Go
It's good to keep your work at your office, but sometimes you need access to important files when you're away from your desk. Syncing cloud storage services like Dropbox and Sugarsync are incredibly helpful when you need certain files accessible from multiple computers and virtually any web browser or mobile device. Both services offer free space as well, and we've found plenty of ways to boost your free space with Dropbox. If you find that you're regularly in need of a few work files, it's time to employ the (free) help of a syncing file service.
2. Automate the Opening and Closing of Your Computer Apps to Remove the Waiting Time from Your Workflow
When you get to work each day and have to open up all your apps, the documents you were working on and anything else you need to get started, you can lose a bit of time and motivation. This, of course, can be remedied with a little automation. It's fairly easy to have all your applications open up automatically every time you start up, but you can even automate the cleaning of your desktop and practically anything else on both Windows and Mac. The more you can automate the less you'll actually have to do, which is always a boon to your productivity.
1. Ergonomically Optimise Your Workspace
If you're sitting down all day at work, the best thing you can do for your body is to ergonomically optimise your space. You've probably heard by now that sitting down all day is shortening your lifespan, but if you're not one for a standing desk you can at least negate some of the unfortunate side effects like repetitive strain injury (RSI), back problems, and more. This guide can help you get set up to sit down and work in a way that will make your shortened lifespan much more comfortable.