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You Need To Keep These Items On Your Desk If You Want To Increase Productivity

You Need To Keep These Items On Your Desk If You Want To Increase Productivity

Nowadays, productivity hacks can be found everywhere. Things like setting up a particular type of environment, having a certain mindset, or preventing distractions, and so on are common when productivity comes up in conversation. But have you ever thought what kind effect the objects on your desk have on your productivity?

Here are some things that I’ve found have worked for me when they’re sitting atop my desk or lack thereof.

Containers Filled with Pens or Other Writing Utensils for Productivity

One of the simplest things that I’ve done to increase my productivity is have multiple containers filled with pens and markers and pencils and all kinds of other utensils. It only takes one pen to get the job done of course. But when presented with such a variety, I’m able to really choose what I think is best for the project that I’m working on. For example, if I want to write, I go for a ballpoint pen. If I was to draw or doodle, a pencil works. If I want to color inside of the lines, I have a cup full of sharpies waiting to be used.

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But why does this increase my productivity?

The honest truth is: I don’t actually know. Maybe it’s psychological. Maybe it’s the fact that in my head, I know that pens are what makes my work get done. They sit in those containers and stare at me until I get my job done. It might work for you, too.

Sticky Notes for Reminders and Inspiration

In plain view, I have 11 sticky notes with life questions that I ask myself every so often. I also have a pad of sticky notes handy for whenever I need to jot down some notes or thoughts that I want to remember. That being said, sticky notes have helps me stay productive.

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How?

Again, I’m not really sure. I know that you’re thinking, “Hey, this guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” And that’s okay if you don’t think so. But if you really want to increase your productivity and you have no other options, you’ll start to do anything possible to get those juices flowing.

Pictures of Loved Ones and Favorite Places for Motivation

One thing that I do know is that the people that I am closest to in life are the people who consistently motivate me to succeed. They serve as constant reminders of why I even am on the journey that I’m on. That’s one of the things that really motivate me to be productive.

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This is simple: find pictures of your family or friends, your significant other or your dog, or even places that you want to travel to. Put them somewhere that you can constantly see them. And whenever you feel like you’re not being productive, give them a gander and kick yourself into high-gear.

Nothing (to Help You Focus)

Completely clear off your desk and give yourself a simple surface to study or work on your craft. Minimalism is something that I find often gives me a chance to really clear my head and focus on what’s in front of me. Sometimes that’s all it takes for me to increase my productivity levels. It may not be the most effective way for some people; distractions can come in all shapes and sizes, including via thoughts. But nonetheless, if you want to jumpstart your productivity, don’t be afraid to clear off your desk and work in simple terms.

These may not work for you. That’s okay. But if they do, I’d appreciate it if you shared it with your friends.

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Want to supercharge your brain? Here are 15 simple ways to do so.

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

More on the Importance of Taking a Break

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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