Hacking Your Office Productivity
With a little bit of coffee and a comfy space you can hack into your productivity mindset. If you don’t know where you’re working from and you don’t enjoy the space that you’re in, there is no way that you’re going to get work done.
Imagine this, you’re working at your sister’s house with her two kids in the background screaming…the dog might be barking at the mailman and you can’t focus – because of course you would never have screaming kids in your work space. Or you are working at a noisy coffee shop, and people keep coming up to chit chat. You may even be co-working with some colleagues and the next thing you know they are gossiping about last night’s marketing party. I mean come on, can you really get anything done in these environments? Highly unlikely.
So let’s talk about how you can be more productive in your work space – a space that you spend the majority of your day in. This isn’t about how pretty your space is – this is about how comfortable you are and how important your environment is to getting your daily tasks done.
We’re assuming that you have a computer… this is really critical to the way that you do work, especially if most of your work consists of interacting with somebody on the other end of the internet, as well as possibly on the other end of a phone or voice connection (VoIP, cell phone, Skype, etc.).
There’s also several other factors to consider. The first of which is knowing what to do by having an understanding of what’s on your calendar and on your to-do list. Having clear cut goals will also help you prioritize where you need to be and what you need to be doing. But above and beyond knowing what your goals are and knowing what you’re working on, what really makes a difference is the environment that you’re working in.
Your Work Space
Where is your space? Do you have a space to call your own or do you move around a lot? Are you working in an office? Are you working at a desk? Are you working at a coffee shop? Are you working from home? Are you working from your car? How many different places do you work from?
Find your unique spot. As long as your space will delight your brain and make you more productive, it doesn’t matter how loud it is, how busy it is, or how quiet it is. Just find a good space that gets your creative mind flowing.
How comfortable are you in this space? How productive are you in this space?
Depending upon your personality, you may be more productive with the hum of a coffee shop where you are forced to zone out versus somebody that is working from home with the constant distraction of things they could be doing around the house. There’s not one solution for everybody, it’s about knowing your style and knowing what works best for you.
While this may be a generalization, most people find is that they are more productive with less distractions. This means, turning off your email notifications on your desktop. Turning off your Facebook messaging. Putting your phone on “do not disturb” mode. Stopping most of your chat software. Setting yourself to red instead of green. To some … or most … doing these things will keep you focused.
Your Technical Equipment
Are you working specifically on a laptop or do you actually have a monitor attached to your laptop with a separate keyboard and a separate mouse? Some people love the ability to zone in on a screen and some people love to have a desk, with a monitor, a keyboard and a mouse that’s not all attached to the laptop. It’s all about what works best for you.
Monitors have come a long way from the giant bulky boxes that were extremely heavy and took up too much space on our desk. For example, the Apple Thunderbolt – did you know you can see it from any angle and it’s super sharp? Monitors can also give you more real estate, especially helpful if you’re constantly toggling between two screens – let’s say you’ve got one screen that you’re writing copy on and another that you’ve got notes on, or there’s one screen that you’re looking at sales on and another you’re looking at products. Consider investing in a second monitor. You can compare two things at once, saving time and increasing your efficiency.
There is one main pro to working from a laptop and that is mobility. Laptops give you the option to pretty much work from anywhere … and nowadays you can pretty much find free WiFi wherever you are. For many small business owners, being able to work from anywhere is the key to their success and productivity. It gives them the option to get up and go.
Your Work Area
Working from home can be tricky. And let’s be honest, we all love the ability to work from home, but it’s definitely a slippery slope to the sofa. What you really need is a workspace or a desk…whether it’s two steps from your bed – so you can get up, take a couple steps and make money – or downstairs or down the block.
What kind of a desk do you have? Is it comfortable? Is it a sitting desk? Is it a stand up desk? There is an awesome sit/stand desk from Ikea. This desk automatically goes up and down and is reasonably priced for what you are getting. $600 – WOW – you may think that is expensive but imagine your overall productivity everyday when you’re sitting (or standing) at a desk that isn’t uncomfortable.
Your chair is going to play a major factor. Think about it, if you have an uncomfortable, ergonomically incorrect chair and you’re sitting all the time, not only are you going to physically feel the discomfort, but mentally you won’t be present during work hours. You spend more time sitting on your butt in the chair at your desk than you do sleeping in bed, actually, just to think about that is really, really odd.
If you’re going to sit in a chair, you need to make sure that you have a chair that is ergonomically correct. A chair that is comfortable. A chair that is adjustable. And a chair that suits the height of your workspace. If you have a weird gap between how tall your chair is and how tall your desk is and you are continually shrugging your shoulders or hunching over, you’re not going to be comfortable and you’re not going to be productive. Uncomfortable equals unproductive.
If your body isn’t happy, there’s no way you’re going to be productive. Of course your mind has to be happy too, but if both your body and mind aren’t happy you might as well just forget it and go back to bed.
Lighting is going to make a big difference, especially depending upon what type of hours you’re keeping. Are you working during the day or are you working at night? What type of windows do you have nearby? Which do you prefer?
It has been found that dimmer lights do help you work better and be more creative, but it can also make your body produce more melatonin, the invisible sleep hormone.
Using brighter lights may trick your mind into not getting tired. Think of it like being in a casino. You go into a casino and all of a sudden you lose track of time because a casino is so well lit. That same thing will happen in your office and you’ll feel more productive later in the day, just because you’ve got lights on.
What it comes down to is: increasing your productivity and what works best for you.
What clothes are you wearing when you’re working? Are you going to the gym and then sitting in the same clothes that you wore? Did you wake up and change out of your pajamas and take a shower?
We know how tempting it is to lounge around in your pajamas all day, but you’ll feel more “get up and go” if you dress as if you’re going to a meeting or an office. This really does change your mindset. The more time you put into the way you look, the better mindset you’ll have.
Clothes are symbolic and greatly affect how you feel about yourself.
But…by all means, if you feel more comfortable working in your pajamas…who’s stopping you?
Know when to unplug!
How long do you go between taking breaks? I’m sure everyone feels it’s motivating to hear entrepreneurs who work hours on end to reach their end goal, but what most don’t know is that they do take time for themselves. It’s okay and necessary to take a break.
Do what you need to do to remind yourself of this. Set an alarm for yourself either on your computer or on your phone for at least once an hour. Use this time to stand up, stretch, move around, EAT and drink fluids. You may find that you work better in 20 minute sprints, which is okay too. This will vary on that tasks that you’re working on and what time of the day you’re working.
If you know that you need to be productive the next day, don’t stay up until 2am out partying with your friends and expect to wake up at 6am feeling perky and ready to go. Sleep matters!! Being hungover and exhausted will not help with your productivity.
If you’re working from home, you’re going to have to take time out during your day to cook and eat. What you eat matters!
Warming up sausage bagel bites and opening up a Mountain Dew isn’t going to keep you going for long – eventually you will sugar crash. The bagel bites will only be good in the moment and within an hour you will begin to feel sluggish. You need to recharge your body during the day.
Spend some time doing meal prep on Sunday evening. Cook in large quantities and separate into tupperware for the week. Check out this guide from DailyBurn that has some simple meal prep ideas. One more thing relating to food…water, water, water. If you are feeling sluggish and unmotivated, take a break and chug a 20oz bottle of water. See how you feel after that.
A morning routine will set the tone for your entire day. If you know exactly how the first 90 minutes of your day will look each day, it helps keep your mental fatigue at bay. You only have a certain mental capacity throughout the day and it slowly drains with decisions. Take a small amount of time in the morning to do the same thing everyday.
Take a moment to sit and look at your environment and your lifestyle. On a productive day, what happens? On a non-productive day, what happens?
We’ve created a Productivity Checklist. You may find things you don’t need to change and things you do need to change. But take a moment and think about each section and what you feel you can do to be more productive.