No matter where you work, the environment you surround yourself with matters. Temperature, air quality, lighting, noise conditions, colors, and even plants, all shape your work performance. In other words, your workspace greatly influences your productivity. Therefore, it’s time for us to get out of the productivity box once again and learn more.
Whether you’re transitioning back into the office or still working from home, this is one area of productivity you can improve quickly and easily.
In this month’s edition of The Productivity Box, we’ll explore how an orderly, clean and clearly designated workspace can influence your performance. Use these strategies and ideas to elevate your work environment both at home and in the office.
How your workspace impacts your performance
The physical environment where you spend most of the time working can have a major impact on your emotions, cognition and behaviors, according to a study from the Building and Environment Journal.
Clutter influences your daily productivity
When your cognitive function or emotional regulation are interrupted by clutter and disorganization, nasty things happen. You short-circuit your ability to focus on tasks, tune out distractions and make clear decisions.
Since the brain equates order with efficiency, there’s also a direct link between how organized your workspace is and how well you concentrate. Think about how much time you waste searching for one crucial memo in all the piles of documents, books and other reference materials that accumulate on your desk. Not only does this clutter sidetrack your attention from more urgent priorities, but it also undermines your workflow.
Ultimately, people who function in messy environments are more prone to overwhelm and anxiety which often leads to procrastination, according to Current Psychology. In fact, looking at clutter can release the stress hormone cortisol which increases your risk of depression, emotional fatigue and decision paralysis, suggests Harvard Business Review.
As a result, you’re less efficient and more susceptible to errors on the job. Conversely, an organized space promotes clear thinking, boosts information processing and leads to a more accurate, productive, accelerated workflow.
Your better workspace is: decluttered
Your workspace doesn’t have to be immaculate all the time, but it should be functional enough for you to access what you need with minimal effort. Here’s how to start the decluttering process:
- Separate your items into three categories: (1) Discard, (2) File and (3) Rearrange.
- Digitize as much as you can to minimize the amount of hard copy materials that you have to find a place for.
- Trash what you no longer need. Next, sort the documents that you do still need in clearly labeled folders.
- Keep the folders in a filing cabinet or another storage area that’s accessible but off the actual work station.
- Find a home for all of your office supplies, so they’re not strewn across the desk (I.E. an empty jar for pens).
- Make sure any electrical cables and power cords are untangled, then store them as out of the way as possible.
Ergonomics affects your productivity
The structural design and physical comfort of your workspace are just as important as its tidiness and functionality. If the height of your desk, support of your chair or position of your computer screen don’t allow for optimal body alignment and posture, the resulting discomfort can pull your attention from the project at hand.
More importantly, poor ergonomics strains the muscles and joints in your neck, shoulders, wrists, fingers or back. This musculoskeletal pain can lead to energy depletion and productivity loss, suggests The Occupational and Environmental Medicine Journal.
Your better workspace is: ergonomic
A workspace that supports physical comfort and well-being can rejuvenate your focus, alertness and overall performance. Some ideas to improve ergonomics:
- Ensure that your computer screen is at eye-level, so that you won’t have to tilt your neck down or hunch your shoulders and upper back.
- If you have a separate mouse or keyboard, configure them parallel to the natural positioning of your elbows and wrists to avoid joint pressure or tension. You should also use a palm rest to protect the wrists from an awkward angle.
- Use an angled footrest underneath your desk to promote alignment in the lower body and relieve pressure in both your feet and ankles.
- Find a supportive chair with a sturdy back frame to cushion your spine, brace your neck and help you maintain an upright posture.
- Consider investing in an adjustable desk that enables you to stand periodically while still continuing to work. This will stretch the muscles and counterbalance the physical stiffness caused by sitting for hours at a time.
- Regulate the temperature at a level that feels most comfortable. If it’s too hot or cold for your preference, this environment will not inspire your best work.
Natural light and colors have huge impact
Does your workspace feel bright and vibrant or dark and dreary? These simple elements of your environment can be powering your workday or slowing it down because they’re leading to tiredness and even pain. As we’ve already learned, the right lighting can make all the difference in how you feel and therefore how productive you are.
In fact, employees with access to natural light reported nearly an 85 percent decrease in eyestrain, blurred vision and headaches, as well as a 10 percent decline in drowsiness according to research from Cornell University.
Your better workspace is: light and bright
Whether you’re in an office or at home, you can make small changes that affect the colors and brightness of your workspace. Consider these small changes:
- Position your desk as close to a window as possible or face it in the direction of a natural light source to maximize daylight exposure.
- Place a table lamp on the surface of your workstation and make sure the light bulb is LED with a luminosity between 5,500K and 7,000K. This is the optimal range to lower fatigue and increase your alertness and mood.
- Use color to your advantage and surround yourself with light, cool shades like blue and green. These two colors promote satisfaction, calmness, intrinsic motivation and creative brain function, according to a study from Frontiers in Psychology.
Create a workspace that fuels your productivity
Whether you’re remote or onsite, there’s a lot you can do to create a space that allows you to feel good and stay productive every single day.
Keep these ideas and strategies in mind for your own workspace. The effect a few small changes can have is worth the investment. And so is getting out of The Productivity Box together with us every month to find these little hacks with surprising effect on your work performance 🙂 Come back for more!