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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 September 20, 2018

    8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

    8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

    You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

    Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

    When you train your brain, you will:

    • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
    • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
    • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

    So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

    1. Work your memory

    Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

    When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

    If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

    The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

    Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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    Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

    What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

    For example, say you just met someone new:

    “Hi, my name is George”

    Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

    Got it? Good.

    2. Do something different repeatedly

    By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

    Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

    It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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    And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

    But how does this apply to your life right now?

    Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

    Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

    Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

    So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

    You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

    That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

    3. Learn something new

    It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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    For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

    Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

    You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

    4. Follow a brain training program

    The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

    5. Work your body

    You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

    Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

    Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

    Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

    6. Spend time with your loved ones

    If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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    If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

    I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

    7. Avoid crossword puzzles

    Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

    Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

    Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

    8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

    Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

    When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

    So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

    The bottom line

    Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

    Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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