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How to Set up Your Desk to Increase Productivity at Work

How to Set up Your Desk to Increase Productivity at Work

No matter how you want to approach the math, adults spend nearly 40% of their day at work according to a recent American Time Use Survey. While many of you have “hands on” jobs requiring physical labor, the majority spend our day plopped, posted, and perched at a desk staring at numbers or figures on a computer screen. So why is it that, even given the knowledge of our time commitment, that many people still overlook the significance of your desk?

Here’s some essential tips, tricks, and tidbits on how to effectively utilize your desk space to maximize productivity, output, and, most importantly, your happiness while at work.

Surround yourself with things that make you happy

Some argue that a clean desk results in an unobstructed mind. While that may be true for some, a lot of people find liberation in the freedom to decorate their own desks according to their tastes. Decorating your desk with personal items is a great reminder that, although you more or less have to spend 8 hours a day here, you still have a life away from your desk.Good reminders of this are pictures of loved ones, art you enjoy, an inspirational slogan or saying on a sticky note, a fake plant, and other trinkets and small objects that will arouse creativity.

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But be aware: there’s always a fine line with decor, and this is no different.

Enjoy window peeping

If possible, request a desk near the window. While some may find this distracting, putting yourself in a position to observe and consume natural light has many health benefits. It’s nice to be able to rest your eyes from growing droopy and tired staring at a computer screen all day. Looking out the window helps you avoid the eye strain caused from a lack of blinking when you’re zoning out on your work.

Listen to some groovy tracks

A workplace can be a hectic and noisy mess, especially if you only have a desk opposed to your own office. Even though sometimes people feel rude for doing this, putting on headphones to drown out the chaos can increase productivity and creativity by narrowing your focus of attention. Plus, even if you feel you aren’t artistic, music is a subtle but powerful way to express yourself artistically. It can evoke your deepest desires, inviting you to imagine yourself completing the task at hand, succeeding, and being rewarded appropriately for it. For these reasons, music availability at your desk is a must.

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Stand up

With all the research and discovery on the subject, we know that sitting all day will kill you faster. Thankfully, many companies are now rewarding employees who are conscious about their health decisions. Those inquiring about extracurricular options like gym memberships, organizing a company 5k fun run, or putting together a company softball rec team are usually given a smile and the “go ahead.”

Standing desks are now thrown into this request pool. Though they are fairly expensive for the company, having the option to stand as easily as you have one to sit will add years to your life.

Give yourself a break

This one may seem like the most obvious of the bunch, and the least about actual desk organization, but it’s probably the most essential. One of the best ways to increase productivity is to leave your desk frequently during the day. Don’t go printing this article out and waiving it in your bosses face as a valid excuse to take 168 photocopies of your rear end, but this is important.

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I find that drinking an obscene amount of water is not only healthy, but also encourages me to stand up and walk around not only to refill my canteen, but also to relieve my small child sized bladder. Again, this is no valid reason to slack off at work intentionally, but getting away and walking around for 5 minutes can be the mental refresher to get you over any mental slump.

If you notice that some of these are useless, or not as impactful on your workspace, experiment a bit. Even if your current setup is working for you brilliantly, be aware of the value in rearranging every so often.

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    Featured photo credit: How To Set Up Your Desk For Your Best Day At Work via huffingtonpost.com

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    Last Updated on June 2, 2020

    Easy Tasks or Difficult Tasks First? Which One is More Productive?

    Easy Tasks or Difficult Tasks First? Which One is More Productive?

    Procrastination is probably the biggest detriment to our productivity. Conventional wisdom dictates that the best thing you can do is make that procrastination constructive. When you don’t feel like doing one task, usually one that requires a lot of will- or brainpower, you do another, usually less labor-intensive task.

    Recently, though, conventional wisdom has been challenged with something Penn State refers to as “pre-crastination.”[1] After doing a series of studies in which students pick up and carry one of two buckets, researchers theorized that many people prefer to take care of difficult tasks sooner rather than later. That theory poses the question of whether this pre-crastination or the more widely acknowledged constructive procrastination is more effective.

    Here is a look at whether people should do difficult tasks early or later on to achieve maximum productivity.

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    Doing Easy Tasks First

    The Pros

    One of the hardest parts of working is just getting started. Constructive procrastination eases this hardship, because working on easy tasks requires a smaller mental or physical commitment than if you tackled difficult tasks firsts.

    If one of the foremost deterrents to your productivity is simply getting going, it makes a lot of sense to save the difficult tasks for when you’re in more of a groove.

    The Cons

    If you eat a frog first thing in the morning, that will probably be the worst thing you do all day. — Mark Twain

    On the surface, there don’t seem to necessarily be any disadvantages to doing easy tasks first. However, in Eat That Frog, the book writeen by Brian Tracy challenges that.

    Based on the above quote from Mark Twain, Eat That Frog encourages avoiding procrastination, even if that procrastination is constructive. Tracy wants you to “eat that frog,” i.e. do your difficult tasks quickly because the longer it’s on your plate, the harder it will become to do the thing you’re dreading. If you have a habit of dreading things, Eat That Frog makes a solid argument to hold off on your easy tasks until later in the day.

    Doing Difficult Tasks First

    The Pros

    Brian Tracy postulates in Eat That Frog that if you do your difficult tasks first, your other tasks won’t seem so bad. After all, after you eat a frog, even something unappetizing will seem downright delectable.

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    Tracy also recommends that, if you have to eat two frogs, you should eat the uglier one first. The metaphor is a very easy way to get your head around the new concept of pre-crastination.

    If all of your tasks seem somewhat torturous to you, you might be able to ease the pain by getting rid of the ugliest “toads” as quickly as you can.

    The Cons

    The primary disadvantage of doing your difficult tasks first is probably that it will make it especially hard to get started on your workday.

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    A lot of people aren’t exactly at their peak performance mode when they enter the office. They need to ease into the workday, maybe have a cup or two of coffee to stimulate them.

    If that’s you, doing your most difficult tasks first would probably be a costly mistake. Hold off on “eating those frogs” until you have the willpower and fortitude to choke them down.

    Conclusion

    Should you do easy or difficult tasks first? It seems like a cop-out to say that it depends on the person, but sometimes that’s the honest answer, and that is definitely the case here.

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    Hopefully this article helps inform you of what type of worker you are, offering clues to whether you fall into the constructive procrastination or pre-crastination camps. Good luck on your pursuit of maximum productivity!

    More Tips for Beating Procrastination

    Featured photo credit: Courtney Dirks via flickr.com

    Reference

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