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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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    How to Fight Information Overload

    How to Fight Information Overload

    Information overload is a creature that has been growing on the Internet’s back since its beginnings. The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.

    This has to stop somewhere. And it can.

    As the year comes to a close, there’s no time like the present to make the overloading stop.

    What you need to do is focus on these 4 steps:

    1. Set your goals.
    2. Decide whether you really need the information.
    3. Consume only the minimal effective dose.
    4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming too much information.

    But before I explain exactly what I mean, let’s discuss information overload in general.

    The Nature of the Problem

    The sole fact that there’s more and more information published online every single day is not the actual problem. Only the quality information becomes the problem. This sounds kind of strange…but bear with me.

    When we see some half-baked blog post we don’t even consider reading it, we just skip to the next thing. But when we see something truly interesting — maybe even epic — we want to consume it. We even feel like we have to consume it. And that’s the real problem.

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    No matter what topic we’re interested in, there are always hundreds of quality blogs publishing entries every single day (or every other day). Not to mention all the forums, message boards, social news sites, and so on. The amount of epic content on the Internet these days is so big that it’s virtually impossible for us to digest it all. But we try anyway.

    That’s when we feel overloaded. If you’re not careful, one day you’ll find yourself reading the 15th blog post in a row on some nice WordPress tweaking techniques because you feel that for some reason, “you need to know this.”

    Information overload is a plague. There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. The only thing you have is self-control. Luckily, you’re not on your own. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself from information overload and, ultimately, fight it. But first…

    Why information overload is bad

    It stops you from taking action. That’s the biggest problem here. When you try to consume more and more information every day, you start to notice that even though you’ve been reading tons of articles, watching tons of videos and listening to tons of podcasts, the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.

    Therefore, you convince yourself that you need to be on a constant lookout for new information if you want to be able to accomplish anything in your life, work and/or passion. The final result is that you are consuming way too much information, and taking way too little action because you don’t have enough time for it.

    The belief that you need to be on this constant lookout for information is just not true.

    You don’t need every piece of advice possible to live your life, do your work, or enjoy your passion.

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    So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with your goals.

    1. Set your goals

    If you don’t have your goals put in place you’ll be just running around grabbing every possible advice and thinking that it’s “just what you’ve been looking for.”

    Setting goals is a much more profound task than just a way to get rid of information overload. Now by “goals” I don’t mean things like “get rich, have kids, and live a good life”. I mean something much more within your immediate grasp. Something that can be achieved in the near future — like within a month (or a year) at most.

    Basically, something that you want to attract to your life, and you already have some plan on how you’re going to make it happen. So no hopes and dreams, just actionable, precise goals.

    Then once you have your goals, they become a set of strategies and tactics you need to act upon.

    2. What to do when facing new information

    Once you have your goals, plans, strategies and tasks you can use them to decide what information is really crucial.

    First of all, if the information you’re about to read has nothing to do with your current goals and plans then skip it. You don’t need it.

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    If it does then it’s time for another question. Will you be able to put this information into action immediately? Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks? Or is it so incredible that you absolutely need to take action on it right away? If the information is not actionable in a day or two (!) then skip it. (You’ll forget about it anyway.)

    And that’s basically it. Digest only what can be used immediately. If you have a task that you need to do, consume only the information necessary for getting this one task done, nothing more.

    You need to be focused in order to have clear judgment, and be able to decide whether some piece of information is mandatory or redundant. Self-control comes handy too … it’s quite easy to convince yourself that you really need something just because of poor self-control. Try to fight this temptation, and be as ruthless about it as possible – if the information is not matching your goals and plans, and you can’t take action on it in the near future then SKIP IT.

    3. Minimal Effective Dose

    There’s a thing called the MED – Minimal Effective Dose. I was first introduced to this idea by Tim Ferriss. In his book The 4-Hour Body,Tim illustrates the minimal effective dose by talking about medical drugs. Everybody knows that every pill has a MED, and after that specific dose no other positive effects occur, only some negative side effects if you overdose big.

    Consuming information is somewhat similar. You need just a precise amount of it to help you to achieve your goals and put your plans into life. Everything more than that amount won’t improve your results any further. And if you try to consume too much of it, it will eventually stop you from taking any action altogether.

    4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming more information

    Probably one of the most common causes of consuming ridiculous amounts of information is the need to procrastinate. By reading yet another article we often feel that we are indeed working, and that we’re doing something good – we’re learning, which in result will make us a more complete and educated person.

    This is just self-deception. The truth is we’re simply procrastinating. We don’t feel like doing what really needs to be done – the important stuff – so instead we find something else, and convince ourselves that “that thing” is equally important. Which is just not true.

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    Don’t consume information just for the sake of it. It gets you nowhere.

    In Closing

    As you can see, information overload can be a real problem and it can have a sever impact on your productivity and overall performance. I know I have had my share of problems with it (and probably still have from time to time). But creating this simple set of rules helps me to fight it, and to keep my lizard brain from taking over. I hope it helps you too, especially as we head into a new year with a new chance at setting ourselves up for success.

    Feel free to shoot me a comment below and share your own story of fighting information overload. What are you doing to keep it from sabotaging your life?

    (Photo credit: Businessman with a Lot of Discarded Paper via Shutterstock)

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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