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10 Tips to Create a High Performance Environment

10 Tips to Create a High Performance Environment

    Want to create a high performance environment? My guess is that you already know many of the characteristics listed below. But, you may need some incentive to motivate you to create that type of space.

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    In high performance environments you

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    • are comfortable and make visitors immediately feel comfortable,
    • can be productive and accomplish your goals,
    • are more likely to have positive interactions with others, and
    • you want to spend time there.

    Following are ten characteristics of spaces where you can be both productive and comfortable.

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    1. Clean–Dust, dirt and grime are sources of negative energy. Negative energy is distracting and interferes with your ability to feel comfortable and motivated.
    2. Organized–When you’re organized you can find what you want when you want it, keep track of what you need to do, and work efficiently. Being organized also helps you feel more in control and empowered.
    3. Uncluttered–Clutter distracts. Clutter irritates. Clutter attracts more clutter. It also talks to you. I’ll bet the last time your space was cluttered with paper it said something like, “Why don’t you take care of me?” or “What a mess!” Who needs a space that says unkind things to you!
    4. Walls painted a color, not white–When you are in an environment that is predominantly white you are more prone to anxiety and depression. The reason for that is that color doesn’t show up against white walls. You are nurtured by color. When you don’t have enough color in your environment, you’re more likely to feel blue or anxious. Paint your walls a color and watch the color in your wall hangings and window coverings pop off the wall.
    5. Good natural lighting–We all know that rooms with windows are preferable to rooms with no windows. But, for optimal performance you want to have rooms with light that is not too bright and not too dim. Light is energy. In rooms that are too bright, you run a risk of burnout because you’re being exposed to too much energy. If windows let in too much light, bringing in heat and glare, window coverings can be used to moderate the level of light. If a room is too dim, there isn’t enough energy in the space and it’s very hard to feel motivated to take action. In that case adding additional light is essential.
    6. Well lit with at least three sources of incandescent light–Many spaces feel most comfortable with at least three light sources, two lamps and one pole lamp to provide up-lighting. Avoid fluorescent lighting. You need full spectrum lighting to thrive. Fluorescent lighting is not full spectrum. It also makes noise–buzzing and popping–that is irritating to the nervous system.
    7. Attractive, comfortable furniture in good condition–Always choose comfortable furniture whose appearance you love. It is most important that you avoid having furniture that you hate because it’s ugly, is uncomfortable or is associated with bad memories or bad feelings.
    8. Healthy live plants or clean silk plants–Our natural habitat is the out of doors. Plants make spaces feel comfortable because they bring the outdoors inside. Live plants also remove pollutants from the air. Their green color nurtures you and can transform a sterile environment into a comfortable space. While live plants are preferable, silk plants that look like real plants can be used as long as they are kept clean.
    9. Interesting, colorful art–Art feeds a space with color and scenes that can lift your spirits and your energy. Violent scenes and art with a negative association should be avoided because their negative energy will affect your energy and could attract negative circumstances.
    10. Mementos that matter to you–Mementos hold the energy of the memory associated with them. When that association is positive and you bring them into your space, you anchor positive pieces of your history. When surrounded by things that remind you of some of your best experiences, accomplishments and people in your life, their positive energy can help you keep on track, focused on your abilities and blessings.

    Are your spaces high performance places to live and work? You too can create spaces where you can feel energized and empowered using the list above as your guide.

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    Last Updated on July 17, 2019

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    What happens in our heads when we set goals?

    Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

    Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

    According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

    Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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    Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

    Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

    The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

    Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

    So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

    Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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    One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

    Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

    Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

    The Neurology of Ownership

    Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

    In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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    But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

    This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

    Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

    The Upshot for Goal-Setters

    So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

    On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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    It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

    On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

    But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

    Reference

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