It’s easy to get into routines during your work day especially then that is what makes you the most productive. The moment your routine gets disrupted, your productivity goes out the window because your task times begin to overlap or you have to work remotely for the day. Don’t fret. You can prepare yourself for any situation so your productivity is always at a high by putting yourself in a comfortable and flexible working environment no matter where you are with the right tools and distractions.
1. The Right Reminders.
Ideally, you can have different locations for each type of activity such as answering email while you’re on the train, doing your core responsibilities when you sit down at your desk, and strategic planning when you stop into the coffeeshop. These patterns of behavior matched with consistent location changes will prompt you to complete the specified activity with minimal mental effort.
But if you must complete all of your daily activities within a few square feet of space, you can trigger your mind to change activities with other small physical cues such as: standing up instead of perching on your chair at your elevated desk; moving your mouse from one side of the keyboard to the other; or sliding your chair over to a different portion of your work surface. You can choose how you associate places with activities, but to achieve the full benefit, aim for a consistent link between place and behavior.
When you leverage the fact that you have emotional and mental responses to specific places, you can dramatically increase your productivity.
2. The Right Tools.
Preferably, you can have all of the tools you need to complete a particular type of work laid out in a beautiful, organized fashion — and within arm’s reach. This makes you more efficient and reduces your resistance to doing a certain task because it requires getting up to fetch something. If you can’t leave everything out or you have a mobile working situation, carry a bag stocked with all of your essential tools, materials, electronics, and papers. Put it together once, and then as soon as you use up any supply, immediately replace it. This allows you to quickly and efficiently transition to a new location without feeling frustrated that you forgot a critical item.
3. The Right Distractions.
Some people experience creative nirvana in monastic-like silence while others hit the flow state to the pounding beat of their favorite song. Neither pattern of activity is right or wrong. The essential point is that you’re keenly aware of what types of distractions — or lack of distractions — make doing what you want to do easier. You can take notice of how you respond to these sorts of environmental factors and stage your day accordingly:
- How do I function when I’m connected or disconnected to the Internet?
- Does having certain devices turned on affect my mental state?
- What kind of activities do I do best when I’m around people?
- How does my mind respond when I’m completely alone?
- Can background music or a movie help me focus?
- Do days at home lead to higher or lower productivity?
4. The Right Surroundings.
For your most important creative work, having an environment that you relish spending time in makes starting on hard mental work much easier. If you have the ability to design your workspace, consider the type of lighting, colors, and materials that make you feel good about moving forward on creative projects. If a custom workspace isn’t feasible, try to find a spot that best suits your ideal — perhaps an atrium area in your building or a conference room with a great view. Or you can make small adaptations to your workspace such as:
- Bringing in a small lamp with a soft white light bulb for a warmer glow
- Keeping fresh flowers or plants in your area
- Putting up some favorite pieces of art or inspiring quotes
- Tacking up fabric on the wall
- Requesting additional drawers so that your surface looks less cluttered
By setting the backdrop for your day, you can reduce friction in the flow of your life and create better work in less time.