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10 Signs of a Productive Office

10 Signs of a Productive Office

Finding a new job is undeniably stressful. Polishing your resume, applying for jobs, interviewing, interviewing again – you really invest a lot in finding a new place to work. For this reason, I’ve compiled a list of 10 signs you should look for in a productive office. These signs will tip you off as to whether or not you will grow as a professional in your office environment. They might be small, but they are emblematic of the larger culture.

1. Work Space Layout

The actual physical layout of cubicles and other types of work space is a vital indicator of how much the company is willing to invest in its employees. As you walk through the office for your interview, you should be able to catch a glimpse of the physical work space assigned to employees of your level.

Take note, as this is an important sign of a productive office. If people are working at what seems like random set-ups, with desks strewn wherever they fit, then the company is likely not all that productive. If they invest in high quality cubicles or office space, that means the position you are interviewing for was definitively planned-for and will likely be empowering.

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2. Good Lighting

This is a surprising tip to recognize a productive office. As you go in for your interview, try to note the details of the lighting and the layout of the fixtures. If there are any dimly-lit areas, or if the ceiling is a hodgepodge of random lighting fixtures, then the management has not made it a priority to ensure that everyone can see their work. I have experienced this first-hand. Some of the most productive offices I have worked in have been the brightest, while the worst have simply been poorly-lit.

3. The Office is Colorful

Average or entirely unproductive offices will be bathed in taupes and egg-shell whites, as productive office environments, while not necessarily painted with rainbow murals, will be accented in some way by bright blues, yellows, reds, and other colors. Even better, if you are able to notice that areas seem to be color coordinated to work-styles – for example, IT works in areas with reds, creative teams work in yellow – then you are in a highly productive forward-thinking office.

4. The Office Allows for Ergonomic Comfort

Write this one down: if you notice anyone with a standing desk, you are in a highly productive office environment. If employees are allowed their own level of ergonomic comfort as they work, then the upper management has seriously taken into consideration its employees – a company doesn’t invest in the health of its employees in such a way unless it seriously cares about them and their work output.

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5. The Office is Full of Plants and Artwork.

The best office I ever worked was a non-profit organization that lined its walls with high-quality, professional photographs of our volunteers executing the mission of the organization. These photos provide much motivation for executing my work. Further, around each corner was a beautiful orchid, or some other type of plant life. As you walk around, you should feel inspired because of the things you see, and productive offices will spend money to make that so.

6. They Avoid Micromanagement

Once you get hired, you will be able to tell a lot about the office productivity quickly. When executing a task, take into account how closely your manager, or any manager, looks over shoulder, so to speak. Managers in productive offices walk a very fine line between being too hands-off and too domineering.

But if a manager is consistently taking a project out of your hands, reanalyzing it, and taking it in a different direction that you intended, spending much time on every detail, you have a micro-manager. This is the most unproductive of any management style, and productive workplaces don’t tolerate it.

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7. Teamwork yields serious results

In many office situations, when groups get together to work on projects, less is accomplished than if each person worked on the project individually. The hallmark of a productive office is valuable, results-oriented teamwork. If you consistently find that team-based solutions are much more effective than anything each individual could execute on their own, then you have landed in a great office environment.

8. People Telework

Good offices have embraced flexible work situations and gotten on-board with people telecommuting. If you hear of people who are able to flexibly work at home or from a remote location, then you are in a great office environment. I once worked in an office in Washington, DC, and my supervisor telecommuted from Seattle, Washington – it was the most productive work set-up I’ve had, and that was because of the flexibility my supervisor was afforded.

9. Music Is Allowed or Encouraged

Offices should allow people to listen to music in order to concentrate. If listening to music while working is discouraged or frowned upon, then the office most likely does not have your own creativity as its central mission. Of course, workers should wear headphones or take other measures to keep from bothering coworkers, but if you find that your musically-induced concentration is disliked by co-workers, then your office will likely be unproductive in other ways.

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10. You Receive an Agenda Before a Meeting

Some offices have three-hour marathon meetings that produce nothing, and this is likely because they lack an agenda. Once you are higher, keep track how often you get an agenda for a meeting. If you don’t consistently get one, then the meeting has likely been scheduled because of a manager’s need to make it only appear they are leading. If you consistently receive agendas, then you are knee-deep in a productive office environment.

Photo Credit: mjlacroix24 via Compfight cc

Featured photo credit: Rear view of businessman reading document in home office via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on September 24, 2020

17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

In the movie The Matrix, everyone was intrigued with the ability that Neo and his friends possessed to learn new skills in a matter of seconds. With the incredible rise in technology today, the rapid learning in the movie is becoming much more of a reality than you realize.

The current generation has access to more knowledge and information than any before it. Through the internet, we are able to access all sorts of knowledge to answer almost every conceivable question. To become smarter, it’s more about the ability to learn faster, rather than being a natural born genius.

Here are 17 ways to kickstart your Matrix-style learning experience in a short amount of time.

1. Deconstruct and Reverse Engineer

Break down the skill that you want to learn into little pieces and learn techniques to master an isolated portion. The small pieces will come together to make up the whole skill.

For example, when you’re learning to play the guitar, learn how to press down a chord pattern with your fingers first without even trying to strum the chord. Once you are able to change between a couple of chord patterns, then add the strumming.

2. Use the Pareto Principle

Use the Pareto Principle, which is also known as the 80 20 rule. Identify the 20% of the work that will give you 80% of the results. Find out more about the 80 20 rule here: What Is the 80 20 Rule (And How to Use It to Boost Productivity)

Take learning a new language for example. It does not take long to realize that some words pop up over and over again as you’re learning. You can do a quick search for “most commonly used French words,” for example, and begin to learn them first before adding on the rest.

3. Make Stakes

Establish some sort of punishment for not learning the skill that you are seeking. There are sites available that allow you to make a donation toward a charity you absolutely hate if you do not meet your goals. Or you can place a bet with a friend to light that fire under you.

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However, keep in mind that several studies have shown that rewards tend to be more motivating than punishment[1].

4. Record Yourself

Seeing yourself on video is a great way to learn from your mistakes and identify areas that you need to improve. This is very effective for any musicians, actors, speakers, performers, and dancers.

5. Join a Group

There are huge benefits to learning in a group. Not only are you able to learn from others but you’ll be encouraged to make progress together. Whether it’s a chess club, a mastermind group, or an online meet-up group, get connected with other like-minded individuals.

6. Time Travel

Visit the library. Although everything is moving more and more online, there are still such things called libraries.

Whether it’s a municipal library or your university library, you will be amazed at some of the books available there that are not accessible online. Specifically, look for the hidden treasures and wisdom contained in the really old books.

7. Be a Chameleon

When you want to learn new skills, imitate your biggest idol. Watch a video and learn from seeing someone else do it. Participate in mimicry and copy what you see.

Studies have shown that, apart from learning,[2]

“Mimicry is an effective tool not only to create ties and social relationships, but also for maintaining them.”

Visual learning is a great way to speed up the learning process. YouTube has thousands of videos on almost every topic available.

8. Focus

Follow one course until success! It’s easy to get distracted, to throw in the towel, or to become interested in the next great thing and ditch what you initially set out to do.

Ditch the whole idea of multitasking, as it has been shown to be detrimental and unproductive Simply focus on the one new skill at hand until you get it done.

9. Visualize

The mind has great difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is imagined. That is why athletes practice mentally seeing their success before attempting the real thing[3].

Visualize yourself achieving your new skill and each step that you need to make to see results. This is an important skill to help when you’re learning the basics or breaking a bad habit.

Take a look at this article to learn how to do so: How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results

10. Find a Mentor

Success leaves clues. The best short cut to become an expert is to find an expert and not have to make the mistakes that they have made.

Finding out what NOT to do from the expert will fast-track your learning when you want to learn new skills. It is a huge win to have them personally walk you through what needs to be done. Reach out and send an email to them.

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If you need help learning how to find a mentor, check out this article.

11. Sleep on It

Practice your new skill within four hours of going to sleep.

Josh Kaufman, author of The Personal MBA, is a noted rapid learning expert. He says that any practice done within this time frame causes your brain to embed the learning more rapidly into its neural pathways. Your memory and motor-mechanics are ingrained at a quicker level.

12. Use the 20-Hour Rule

Along with that tip, Kaufman also suggests 20 as the magic number of hours to dedicate to learning the new skill.

His reasoning is that everyone will hit a wall early on in the rapid learning stage and that “pre-committing” to 20 hours is a sure-fire way to push through that wall and acquire your new skill.[4]

Check out his video to find out more:

13. Learn by Doing

It’s easy to get caught up in reading and gathering information on how to learn new skills and never actually get around to doing those skills. The best way to learn is to do.

Regardless of how unprepared you feel, make sure you are physically engaged continuously. Keep alternating between research and practice.

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14. Complete Short Sprints

Rather than to force yourself into enduring hours upon hours of dedication, work in short sprints of about 20-30 minutes, then get up and stretch or take a short walk. Your brain’s attention span works best with short breaks, so be sure to give it the little rest it needs.

One study found that, between two groups of students, the students who took two short breaks when studying actually performed better than those who didn’t take breaks[5].

15. Ditch the Distractions

Make sure the environment you are in is perfect for your rapid-learning progress. That means ditching any social media, and the temptation to check any email. As the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

Before you sit down to learn new skills, make sure that potential distractions are far from sight.

16. Use Nootropics

Otherwise known as brain enhancers, these cognitive boosters are available in natural herbal forms and in supplements.

Many students will swear by the increased focus that nootropics will provide[6], particularly as they get set for some serious cramming. Natural herbal nootropics have been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic traditions to improve the mind and learning.

Find out more about brain supplements in this article.

17. Celebrate

For every single small win that you experience during the learning process, be sure to celebrate. Your brain will release endorphins and serotonin as you raise your hands in victory and pump your fits. Have a piece of chocolate and give yourself a pat on the back. This positive reinforcement will help you keep pushing forward as you learn new skills.

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The Bottom Line

Learning a new skill should be exciting and fun. Whether you use online courses, real world experience, YouTube videos, or free online resources, take time to learn in the long term. Keep picturing the joy of reaching the end goal and being a better version of yourself as continual motivation.

More Tips on How to Learn New Skills

Featured photo credit: Elijah M. Henderson via unsplash.com

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