News flash: productivity is not an illusive dream. But it can be an ongoing skill to learn and finesse — and even after finding the magic productivity formula, you might still need to shift your strategies over time as your tasks and endeavors evolve.
Some of the tips you'll hear for leading a productive life are quite obvious: adequate sleep, eating well, getting ample exercise — these factors all affect our overall wellbeing and mental capacity throughout the day. Some of the factors that have had a huge impact for my productivity, however, are lesser known. Here are my three favorite tips for creating a productive space you can create at home or the workplace, for literally $0.
1. Rotate Your Desk
Yep, you heard me. And there's a right way to make this happen. When we're sitting at our desk facing the window, at some point in the day, light will inevitably stream in, causing us to squint even the tiniest bit — and thus, causing strain on our eyes.
Conversely, when we sit with our back to the window, the light will inevitably shine in through the window and hit our computer screen causing a glare and, therefore (you guessed it) more strain on eyes.
To avoid the sunny day eye strain, rotate your entire desk ninety degrees, so your desk is perpendicular to the wall and incoming sunlight. This will give you the natural light your body craves without causing unnecessary strain and eye fatigue.
2. Clean Your Workspace...Mostly
If you've spent any time around here, you may already know what an advocate I am of having a clean, organized workspace. However, I'm about to contradict myself in the tiniest way — your workspace shouldn't necessarily be "everything-put-away-out-of-sight" clean.
When we remove basic tools from our workspace because they're causing clutter, we're also removing access to some of our most essential devices. The best solution here is to keep a fairly tidy workspace, but leave out a few basic tools that make your work tasks easier. For me, that means leaving out my open planner, a few pens, a notepad for quick notes, my EyeZen glasses...and probably a drink and snack or two. (Let's be real.)
3. Use White Noise to Your Advantage
You've likely heard of white noise...but have you thought about how to use it to your advantage in the workspace? For many people, this means putting on some background music without lyrics so you don't catch yourself distracted and singing along. For others, maybe something as simple as the low hum of a fan or the natural noise of coffee shop traffic fuels your best level of focus.
I've found two new and highly beneficial sources of white noise that have been helping tremendously with my focus and getting into a solid flow state of work: the Sleep Expert app and songs on repeat.
The Sleep Expert app has been a new favorite for waking up to the sounds of a steady river and birds chirping — but it has a ton of nature soundtracks in the free version of the app that you can blend together to create your own "Favorite" combinations and save for future use. A thunderstorm in the city? Done. Nighttime in the forest? Easy. I love turning this on (in headphones is even better) for chunks of time when I need to hone in and focus on the task at hand.
Songs on repeat may sound crazy, but this is another tactic I LOVE for intense design sessions. Here's how this works: I turn on a playlist on Spotify of songs I don't know very well and let it play until I come across a song that I'm totally digging — and then, I simply turn it on repeat. This method works wonders for designing a certain style or for a certain client, but it's not my favorite method when any writing is involved. (I'll eventually learn the lyrics and subconsciously try to follow along with the song — which makes reading and writing a tricky task.) But for more visual-oriented design tasks, this is my favorite way to find my flow state.
Which of these tactics are you excited to try first? Remember, productivity is an ever-evolving endeavor, so keep trying different methods until you discover a system that works great for you and your work environment.