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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 8, 2020

    3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

    3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

    It is easy, in the onrush of life, to become a reactor – to respond to everything that comes up, the moment it comes up, and give it your undivided attention until the next thing comes up.

    This is, of course, a recipe for madness. The feeling of loss of control over what you do and when is enough to drive you over the edge, and if that doesn’t get you, the wreckage of unfinished projects you leave in your wake will surely catch up with you.

    Having an inbox and processing it in a systematic way can help you gain back some of that control. But once you’ve processed out your inbox and listed all the tasks you need to get cracking on, you still have to figure out what to do the very next instant. On which of those tasks will your time best be spent, and which ones can wait?

    When we don’t set priorities, we tend to follow the path of least resistance. (And following the path of least resistance, as the late, great Utah Phillips reminded us, is what makes the river crooked!) That is, we’ll pick and sort through the things we need to do and work on the easiest ones – leaving the more difficult and less fun tasks for a “later” that, in many cases, never comes – or, worse, comes just before the action needs to be finished, throwing us into a whirlwind of activity, stress, and regret.

    This is why setting priorities is so important.

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    3 Effective Approaches to Set Priorities

    There are three basic approaches to setting priorities, each of which probably suits different kinds of personalities. The first is for procrastinators, people who put off unpleasant tasks. The second is for people who thrive on accomplishment, who need a stream of small victories to get through the day. And the third is for the more analytic types, who need to know that they’re working on the objectively most important thing possible at this moment. In order, then, they are:

    1. Eat a Frog

    There’s an old saying to the effect that if you wake up in the morning and eat a live frog, you can go through the day knowing that the worst thing that can possibly happen to you that day has already passed. In other words, the day can only get better!

    Popularized in Brian Tracy’s book Eat That Frog!, the idea here is that you tackle the biggest, hardest, and least appealing task first thing every day, so you can move through the rest of the day knowing that the worst has already passed.

    When you’ve got a fat old frog on your plate, you’ve really got to knuckle down. Another old saying says that when you’ve got to eat a frog, don’t spend too much time looking at it! It pays to keep this in mind if you’re the kind of person that procrastinates by “planning your attack” and “psyching yourself up” for half the day. Just open wide and chomp that frog, buddy! Otherwise, you’ll almost surely talk yourself out of doing anything at all.

    2. Move Big Rocks

    Maybe you’re not a procrastinator so much as a fiddler, someone who fills her or his time fussing over little tasks. You’re busy busy busy all the time, but somehow, nothing important ever seems to get done.

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    You need the wisdom of the pickle jar. Take a pickle jar and fill it up with sand. Now try to put a handful of rocks in there. You can’t, right? There’s no room.

    If it’s important to put the rocks in the jar, you’ve got to put the rocks in first. Fill the jar with rocks, now try pouring in some pebbles. See how they roll in and fill up the available space? Now throw in a couple handfuls of gravel. Again, it slides right into the cracks. Finally, pour in some sand.

    For the metaphorically impaired, the pickle jar is all the time you have in a day. You can fill it up with meaningless little busy-work tasks, leaving no room for the big stuff, or you can do the big stuff first, then the smaller stuff, and finally fill in the spare moments with the useless stuff.

    To put it into practice, sit down tonight before you go to bed and write down the three most important tasks you have to get done tomorrow. Don’t try to fit everything you need, or think you need, to do, just the three most important ones.

    In the morning, take out your list and attack the first “Big Rock”. Work on it until it’s done or you can’t make any further progress. Then move on to the second, and then the third. Once you’ve finished them all, you can start in with the little stuff, knowing you’ve made good progress on all the big stuff. And if you don’t get to the little stuff? You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you accomplished three big things. At the end of the day, nobody’s ever wished they’d spent more time arranging their pencil drawer instead of writing their novel, or printing mailing labels instead of landing a big client.

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    3. Covey Quadrants

    If you just can’t relax unless you absolutely know you’re working on the most important thing you could be working on at every instant, Stephen Covey’s quadrant system as written in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change might be for you.

    Covey suggests you divide a piece of paper into four sections, drawing a line across and a line from top to bottom. Into each of those quadrants, you put your tasks according to whether they are:

    1. Important and Urgent
    2. Important and Not Urgent
    3. Not Important but Urgent
    4. Not Important and Not Urgent

      The quadrant III and IV stuff is where we get bogged down in the trivial: phone calls, interruptions, meetings (QIII) and busy work, shooting the breeze, and other time wasters (QIV). Although some of this stuff might have some social value, if it interferes with your ability to do the things that are important to you, they need to go.

      Quadrant I and II are the tasks that are important to us. QI are crises, impending deadlines, and other work that needs to be done right now or terrible things will happen. If you’re really on top of your time management, you can minimize Q1 tasks, but you can never eliminate them – a car accident, someone getting ill, a natural disaster, these things all demand immediate action and are rarely planned for.

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      You’d like to spend as much time as possible in Quadrant II, plugging away at tasks that are important with plenty of time to really get into them and do the best possible job. This is the stuff that the QIII and QIV stuff takes time away from, so after you’ve plotted out your tasks on the Covey quadrant grid, according to your own sense of what’s important and what isn’t, work as much as possible on items in Quadrant II (and Quadrant I tasks when they arise).

      Getting to Know You

      Spend some time trying each of these approaches on for size. It’s hard to say what might work best for any given person – what fits one like a glove will be too binding and restrictive for another, and too loose and unstructured for a third. You’ll find you also need to spend some time figuring out what makes something important to you – what goals are your actions intended to move you towards.

      In the end, setting priorities is an exercise in self-knowledge. You need to know what tasks you’ll treat as a pleasure and which ones like torture, what tasks lead to your objectives and which ones lead you astray or, at best, have you spinning your wheels and going nowhere.

      These three are the best-known and most time-tested strategies out there, but maybe you’ve got a different idea you’d like to share? Tell us how you set your priorities in the comments.

      More Tips for Effective Prioritization

      Featured photo credit: Mille Sanders via unsplash.com

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