“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them” – Walt Disney.
Whenever you think about great individuals who started from very humble beginnings and achieved extraordinary success, who comes to your mind? For me, Walt Disney springs to my mind first.
Walt Disney was a remarkable creative entrepreneur, animator, voice actor and film producer. He was the recipient of 22 Academy Awards and was nominated 59 times for producing iconic cartoons and animated films that we all love and enjoy even today, including Mickey Mouse.
A pioneer of the American animation industry, Disney founded the multi-billion-dollar Walt Disney Company that consists of various associated film production and distribution companies, cable channels, and television stations and networks. He even founded amusement parks for families to enjoy.
Disney’s journey to the top wasn’t as smooth sailing as many people imagine, though. Like many of us, he experienced many challenges along the way and he had to overcome big obstacles to succeed. Here are some facts about Walt Disney that most people don’t know but should.
1. He wasn’t born rich at all.
You might be tempted to think that Walt Disney achieved all he did because he came from a well-off family. He didn’t. For most of his childhood, Disney’s parents had to move the family across different states looking for work and economic security.Advertising
At the age of 19, Disney started drawing cartoons of the creatures from his childhood for sale. But, he got so little money to pay the rent, often being forced to live with friends and go without food.
That Disney rose from this humble background to become a household name is quite inspiring. It demonstrates that you don’t have to be born rich to make your own success.
2. He was told that he “lacked creativity”.
Hard to believe, but Walt Disney – the creative genius behind the Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Pluto and many other classic cartoon characters – was written off as lacking in creativity and artistry. When Disney pitched newspaper companies to get his cartoons published, they shut him down saying he “lacked artistic integrity,” But, though rejected, he kept going. He did not stop pitching his ideas.
People will criticize and even write you off for pursuing your dreams, but keep going. No one knows you better than you know yourself. No one knows your innermost dreams better than you. Listen to your heart and pursue your dreams relentlessly like Disney. It might not be easy, but it will be worth it in the end.
3. He failed many times (apparently more than 300 times).
Most people won’t even put 100 attempts toward their dream let alone fail 300 times. But Walt Disney failed over 300, including the heartbreaking period when his first studio that focused on animation called Laugh-O-Gram went bankrupt and shut down. Each time he failed, he learnt his lesson and tried again. When you believe in your dream as much as Disney did, even repeat failure cannot keep you from ultimate success.Advertising
Rather than focusing on the past, focus instead on the future achievements you want. “When you believe a thing, believe it all the way, implicitly and unquestionably,” Disney said.
4. He spent his Saturdays with his two daughters.
Although Walt Disney was an incredibly busy man, he always put family first. And he adored his two daughters, Diane and Sharon Disney. On Saturdays he would always take the girls out for the day, sit and eat peanuts, while watching his girls on the carousel. It was on one such trip that the idea occurred to him that there should be an amusement park for families to enjoy together.
In July 1955, Disney hosted the world premiere of his new amusement park in California, the legendary Disneyland. Disney said on Disneyland’s opening day that he hoped the park will be “a joy and inspiration to all the world.” It did.
5. He labored for seven years just to plan out Disneyland.
Disneyland didn’t just happen overnight. Walt Disney labored long and hard for seven years just to plan out the project. Whereas most people would simply give up after a year or so of trying, Disney was determined to create what he envisioned would be the “happiest place on earth.” Always keep the bigger picture in mind. And be inspired by the greater good for all. As Disney said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”
6. He dropped out of high school to pursue his dream—animation.
Although education was extremely important to Walt Disney, which explains why he helped create the California Institute of the Arts, he dropped out of high school to pursue his true passion, animation. Disney decided to only pursue work he loved.
Sometimes we have to weigh our options, circumstances carefully and make bold decisions that will better align us with our truest passion and goals. “A person should set his goals as early as he can and devote all his energy and talent to getting there. With enough effort, he may achieve it. Or he may find something that is even more rewarding,” Disney said. And just because you don’t have a formal education, doesn’t mean you cannot reach your dreams. You can.
7. He worked other jobs to fund his passion.
Disney went through a series of odd jobs, including working a summer job selling snacks and newspapers to travelers at a Kansas City railroad that his uncle worked, becoming an ambulance driver in the army during World War I, and taking up a comic artist job in a local newspaper. Whatever money he made, he directed it back to his main love–animation.
“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing,” he said. Don’t be afraid of humble beginnings. You have to start from somewhere. Remember, great oaks grow from tiny seeds.
8. He was “scared to death” to introduce Disneyland on television.
Walt Disney admitted to being “scared to death” when he had to face the camera to introduce episodes of the “Disneyland” television series. But, he went through with it anyway. He never quit in the face of fear; he pushed forward despite of it.Advertising
Achievers give it a go even when it scares them. They muster courage to introduce their work to the world and do whatever else it takes to succeed–even if it means going against conformity. Don’t let fear stop you from doing what you have to do to make your dreams come true. Just do your best work and keep improving on what your best is every day. You’ll be fine.
9. He almost didn’t finish the studio production of Snow White.
When Walt Disney first started to work on the legendary “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” film, his wife and brother tried to convince him to give it up because of the daunting task it involved. The idea of a technicolor, fully–animated, feature–length film had never been done before. The Snow White project was even dubbed “Disney’s Folly” by industry professionals. And halfway through production Disney ran out of money to continue the work.
Most people in this situation would just quit and get whatever they can out of what’s left. Disney persevered. He traveled around and showed clips of the raw film to producers in hopes of them funding his project. He even mortgaged his own house to raise additional funds to create the film. In the end this hustle was what enabled him to finish the classic Snow White film and save his studio.
Never let challenges and naysayers stop you. Be willing to work hard; to stretch yourself; to experiment with new things and produce the very best you can. The results will be worth it in the end.
10. He reaped the rewards of all his hard work, perseverance and dedication.
Apart from winning worldwide acclaim throughout his career, when the Snow White film finally hit the silver screen in December 21, 1937, it brought in a then unimaginable $8 million in spite of the Depression. That’s approximately $134 million today. The film was hailed as an “authentic masterpiece” by Time magazine. And By the time Walt Disney died in December 15, 1966, at the age of 65, he had epitomized the truth of his own words that, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”
Last Updated on November 27, 2020
15 Office Design Tricks That Will Increase Your Productivity at Work
Where you work has an enormous impact on how you work – on your ability to focus (and stay focused) and your overall ability to be productive. That means the design of your office, whether you work at home or in a larger company environment, is of supreme importance. This isn’t just about Feng Shui, this is about producing results and getting things done.
According to studies done on workplace and productivity, the most significant factor in determining an employee’s ability to focus is their physical environment. In fact, it’s been said that a well-designed office can increase your productivity about 20%. However, despite the studies and statistics, nearly half of the employers interviewed don’t consider workplace design a good business investment.
So what is a productivity hack to do? What if you work in an environment that doesn’t promote focus?
Check these 15 factors and make changes where you can. A little adjustment can produce a lot of impact.
Lighting is one of the most important factors in staying focused and feeling inspired to create, yet it’s one of the most overlooked and least invested in. Bad lighting can cause fatigue, eyestrain, headaches and overall irritability. Dark spaces can actually produce depression.
If you work in a company office:
You probably have no control over your general lighting so bring in your own, if need be. Consider using natural light bulbs or a light therapy device.
If you work from a home office:
Open the windows and doors and let natural light in. Using lamps in a variety of areas for cloudy days or when it’s dark.
Chair and Table
If you’ve ever sat at a desk to do work but found yourself adjusting, stretching and moving too often to actually stay focused, then you’re aware of the importance of having a correctly fitted table and chair. In today’s work environment where so many of us are sitting for most of our day, it is critical that your throne fits your body probably.
Consider these quick ergonomic checks:
- Eyes 24-36 inches from the computer screen. The top of the monitor should be below or at eye-level.
- Feet should be on a foot rest or resting on the floor.
- A slightly reclined chair posture is best to reduce pressure on your spine and minimize lower back pain.
If you work in a company office:
Ask for an adjustable chair. Add pillows for your lower back or bum, if you need it. Many companies will also provide risers for computers to adjust the height of your computer screen (and a separate keyboard to keep your hands and wrists in the ideal position)
If you work from a home office:
Invest in a decent chair or at least use a few pillows to make the chair more comfortable. If the table is too high, add pillows to your chair. If it is too low, consider buying leg risers from your local hardware store and using books beneath your computer to raise the screen. Use a separate keyboard.
Your mama was right, it’s important to clean up your room. Clutter may help the creative mind create, but it isn’t necessarily helpful for focus and productivity.
If you work from a company office: While you can’t control the cleanliness of the office at large, do keep your own environment around you clean. Spend 10 minutes every morning or evening making sure things are put away, filed, organized and generally out of sight so you’re not distracted by it later.
If you work from a home office: Because you work from home, the entire house or apartment is potential for distraction. If you can afford it, hire a professional cleaning service to keep your home clean. If not, schedule a specific day and time to clean your home. Commit to doing daily pickup at a specific time. And spend at least 10 minutes every day making sure your office is organized and tidy.
The colors around us all have an effect on our moods and brain function. It evokes both a physical and emotional response. So choosing the right colors for your work space has the ability to affect your productivity. For instance, blue has been said to illicit productivity. Mind you, too much of anything can be overwhelming, even color.
If you work from a company office: Bring in items from home that are a certain color that inspire you and keep you focused. Use postcards, magazine cutouts, even just blocks of color will do.
If you work from a home office: If you work from home, you have much more control over the colors around you. Consider repainting a wall, adding color to the table you work at, or hanging pictures that are dominated by a specific color.
Most offices keep their temperatures around 65-68 Fahrenheit but it turns out that this might not be good for productivity. Warmer rooms actually make people more productive.
If you work from a company office: Most offices are regulated by somebody else, so bring a space heater, sweaters and blankets to your work space.
If you work from a home office: Depending on the season, open the windows or adjust the heat or a/c so that you’re more comfortable and warm. Pile on the sweaters in the winter or add a space heater to your feet.
Like the color of the space you work in, our sense of smell can powerfully affect our mood, mindset and thus our productivity. Consider adding scents to your work space to jar your mind into focus when you start to notice yourself drifting off.
Try using these scents to stay focused:
- Pine – Increases alertness
- Cinnamon – Improves focus
- Lavender – Helps to relax you during a stressful work day
- Peppermint – Lifts your mood
- Citrus (any) – Wakes you up and lifts your spirits
If you work from a company office: Most people will not appreciate added scents to their work environment so you’ll need to keep it subtle. Keep essential oils in your bag or drawer and when you’re in need of a boost put a few drops on a handkerchief or cotton ball.
If you work from a home office: Use candles, incense or essential oils. You can also simmer herbs and spices in the kitchen to fill your home with a warm scent.
The noise level in a work environment can vary greatly depending on the size of the team you work with, the office design and company culture. But make no mistake, the noise around you affects your ability to stay on task. Not only can it be distracting, it can also raise stress levels making your ability to sustain productivity far more difficult.
If you work from a company office: Bring in noise cancellation headphones and use music services like Spotify or Songza and choose concentration boosting sounds, like white noise. Find out if your office offers quiet work spaces for times when you need the utmost focus.
If you work from a home office: Sometimes the complete quiet can be as distracting as an office. Use a service like Coffivity to mimic the noise of a coffee shop, which has been said to help with concentration.
Air quality can drastically affect our ability to focus and think clearly. Get this: OSHA estimates that the total annual cost of poor air quality in office environments costs employers $15 billion “due to worker inefficiency and sick leave.” Yeah, it’s serious business.
If you work from a company office: Talk to them about installing air filters. If there is a way to bring in fresh air through windows or doors, arrange to have them opened for at least a portion of the day. If nothing else, get a personal air filter to have on your desk or nearby.
Also, get a plant (or better yet, have the company buy and use more plants in the office!). Plants are great at filtering the air and providing clean, purified oxygen.
If you work from a home office: Open windows and doors and let in the fresh air. Install an air filter or get a portable air filter to keep near your desk. And, yes, you too should get a plant.
If you can manage it, give yourself more than one space to work from. Putting yourself in a new space with different qualities and things to look at quite literally shifts your brain and helps you stay focused.
If you work from a company office: Many offices offer a variety of environments to work from: your personal space, lobbies, break out rooms, conference rooms, kitchens and eating areas and, if you’re lucky, they also provide lounge areas. Use all these spaces to vary your routine. Make sure your supervisor knows so they don’t think you’re slacking off and know tat you’re actually getting more done!
If you work from a home office: If you work at a desk, add a comfortable couch or chair to the room. If your space is less flexible or ultra tiny, think about more creative ways to change your work space. Rotate the pictures on your walls every couple of days. Sit on the other side of your desk. Get a lamp and multiple colored bulbs. Or go work at a café, the library or in a park.
Organization of People
Most employers organize employees around job function or in specific divisions. Instead, studies show that people are more creative and productive when they are sitting with colleagues that share the same goal or client. Not only are you able to get answers and generate solutions quicker, but because you’re directly accountable to the people around you, you’re more likely to stay on task and productive.
If you work from a company office: Ask your employer if you can experiment by clustering your group together in a conference room for a day or a week. Get feedback from everybody involved. Show the results. If your company won’t make permanent adjustments, perhaps they’ll allow you to work together a couple times a week when the conference room or lounge area is free.
If you work from a home office: This is a little bit more difficult because when you work at home you’re not with colleagues. You can recreate a similar space digitally, however. Create a Skype group and have everyone logged in during working hours. You can do morning accountability and check-ins while remaining available for questions, solution-finding and general banter that promotes creativity.
Ever been working hard when you’re suddenly distracted by a great idea? At first you try to push it away, but then the next thing you know you’re 20 pages deep into an online search on the topic. Ideas should be encouraged and cultivated, but when they come right in the middle of another task it can be incredibly distracting. Instead, create a place to store your ideas that’s easily accessed from your work space.
For both a company and home office: Keep pads of paper around, have a chalk wall, get a white board – when you have a spark of inspiration write it down right away to get it out of your head then return to the task at hand. Then, at the end of the day or when you have free time, collect all the ideas and review them. With a little time and space you can better decide if it’s worth pursuing or better to leave it on the back-burner.
Our brain needs nourishment to keep going, especially when we’re driving hard and staying focused. You can let a rumbling stomach go on for only so long before the brain shuts down. Assuming your different is like wanting your car to keep driving without having to stop and fill it with gas. A novel idea, but not realistic.
If you work from a company office: Pre-make snacks for the day and/or week. Or, bring in prepackaged snacks. Keep in mind that junk food has properties of diminishing returns so if you’re buying your food prepackaged think nuts, fruit, unsweetened yogurts, and hummus and crackers. Likely, your company provides coffee, tea and water so you don’t have to worry about supplying that for yourself.
If you work from a home office: If you work from home, this can be a key distraction. Try to reduce the number of times you walk into the kitchen each day. To do this, keep quick and easy snacks pre-made or prepackaged ready and near your desk. Keep a water bottle nearby. And consider bringing a kettle into your office and stocking tea and coffee so you’re not tempted to wander around the house and lose time poking through the pantry.
Bring in Nature
We are biological creatures, first and foremost. So we are deeply affected by our access to (or lack of) the natural world. It’s important for our psychological and physiological functioning, which directly affects our ability to be productive.
If you work from a company office: If you don’t have windows in or near your work space, bring in pictures of the outdoor world. Keep a picture of something natural as your screensaver and/or desktop wallpaper. Take walks outdoors at lunch or in between major tasks. Just a few minutes outside in the fresh air and sunshine can boost our mood and shake out the doldrums. Be sure to add a plant to your desk, too!
If you work from a home office: Keep the shades open and, if you can, let in fresh air. If you can’t see anything natural out of your window, keep pictures of the natural world as your screensaver and/or desktop wallpaper. Take walks. Or, just step outside and put your feet on the ground. Put plants in your office – research shows that having live plants in your office makes you more productive, happier and less stressed.
For most people, our primary work is housed within our laptops and our physical environment simply the backdrop to our digital lives. Make sure your computer has software that helps you sculpt the digital environment that best elicits productivity. Use focus apps like this one or this to decrease distractions. Or design your day using intervals with an app like this one to keep you at your peak focus throughout the day.
Featured photo credit: Phil Desforges via unsplash.com