June 16th, 2020

How to Improve Productivity by Shaping Your Work Environment

Reading Time: 3 minutes

You may not realize it but your work environment has a powerful impact on your work behavior. Your environment is constantly sending your body and brain signals that influence how you think, feel, and act, whether you’re aware of it or not. In fact, a lot of those signals are received and processed behind the scenes, while you’re focused on other things. If you don’t add some conscious awareness to the process, you may end up aimlessly floating through your day, making decisions without fully realizing why. And while this auto-pilot mode can sometimes be harmless, it’s certainly no way to live all the time!

Let us give an example. Say you’re currently working from home. Your current work setup is your kitchen table, from which you can see the living room television, which your young child is watching just loudly enough for you to hear it. Instead of working, you find yourself caught up in the latest episode of Doc McStuffins, unable to concentrate. When the show is over, the smell of coffee catches your attention. You realize the pot you brewed earlier is finally ready, so you get up to pour yourself a cup. But, now that you’re up and near the fridge, you wonder if you should make yourself a snack before getting back to work…

As you can see, it’s very easy to get caught in the riptide of your environment. But a few conscious changes can make it easier to stay focused. Here’s what we suggest.

Reduce Clutter

Have you ever been working on a project when, suddenly, you felt a compulsion to clean your whole office? It’s okay; we’ve all procrasti-cleaned before. But it would have been much harder to do that if your office hadn’t been so cluttered in the first place, wouldn’t it?

Clutter in your work environment adds clutter to your mind. The less stuff you have clogging up your space, the less you can be distracted by. So, before your next workday, go through and tidy up as much as you can. Create a minimal space with just what you need.

Add Plants

While it’s good to reduce clutter in your work environment, one particular type of “clutter” can actually be quite beneficial: Plants! We subconsciously respond positively to natural elements in our environment. Plants can have a calming effect on your temperament, which can make it easier to focus on your work.

Plus, plants can also filter out toxins in the air, making it safer and healthier to breathe. A low maintenance plant can be a perfect accent piece for your office without requiring too much of your attention.

Use Natural Light

No one particularly enjoys the harsh fluorescent lights of typical office spaces. Many people find them simply unpleasant while some studies show that they can trigger a stress response in people. If your work environment allows, consider using natural light as your primary light source for as much of the day as you can. 

Natural light boosts the amount of vitamin D in your system and can help ward off seasonal depression. Natural light exposure also helps improve your sleep.

If you’re able, hang some mirrors in your office to help reflect the light from any windows you have. If you have no access to natural lighting, consider investing in a light therapy lamp, which has much of the same benefits as natural light.

Minimize Distractions

Distractions come in all shapes and sizes. Some are unavoidable but many can be minimized or eliminated altogether with some preparation and dedication. The key is knowing what distracts you and how to avoid it.

Take a minute to think about all the things that sidetrack you while you’re working. What gets you most consistently? The clarion call of social media? Interruptions from chatty coworkers or, if you’re working from home, pets, partners, or children? Are you the chatty coworker, perhaps? Or maybe you suddenly feel the need to tidy everything in sight when a due date is looming? Be honest; this is a judgement-free zone.

Once you’ve got a solid list, see if you can brainstorm solutions for those times when you need a totally distraction-free work environment. Do you have an office with a door you can shut? Can you download a browser extension to block your social media access? Could you shut your phone off or put it in airplane mode? Would logging your time keep you on task?

There are no right answers here. Do what works best for you. It may require some trial and error. But once you find what works, stick with it.

If you’re finding yourself in the weeds while adjusting to your new work environment, you’re not alone. These are unprecedented times and we’re all in this together. You don’t have to figure it all out alone. In fact, we implore you not to!

Fabulous for Work can help your entire company master the work from home lifestyle by helping your whole workforce build habits that will make everyone healthier, happier, and more productive. Millions of people all over the world have successfully created morning routines for themselves that have improved their lives. And now we want to help you.To learn more, visit thefabulous.co/work or click here to find out more.