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6 Ways to Change Your Workspace to Improve Productivity

6 Ways to Change Your Workspace to Improve Productivity

At the end of the work week, do you often wonder where the time went and how you got so little accomplished? Are bosses or clients breathing down your neck because you’re always late with your assignments?

It doesn’t matter if you work from home or in an office full of other people there are certain things that go a long way toward helping you be more productive, and many of them are fairly easy to change.

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Lighting:

Research has shown that people work best with natural sunlight, but for many of us that just isn’t an option—either there’s no way to get direct sunlight in our office, or we have difficulty using it anyway because the glare it can cause on computer screens. Luckily, there’s another way to go: natural daylight bulbs and desk lamps like this one from OttLite simulate the light from the sun’s rays, and encourage alertness and productivity.

Seating:

Human beings weren’t designed to sit at desks all day, but unfortunately, that’s the reality in many of our jobs. This is made even worse when we have to spend 8, 10, 12, or even more hours each day in a chair that just doesn’t cut it—after all, it’s pretty hard to concentrate on your work if you’re always squirming in your seat and feeling uncomfortable. If you let this go on for too long, you can even develop long-term problems, so it’s important to invest in ergonomic seating, such as the Herman Miller Aeron chair—a popular choice if you can afford it.

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Air quality:

Did you know that removing pollutants can improve the performance of tasks like typing and solving mathematical problems by between 4 and 16 percent? Or that even the perception of better indoor air quality can make people work better? Air purifiers are a great way to remove allergens and other pollutants from the environment and help you to breathe easier and cleaner. This is especially important for people indoors for long stretches of time, because foul air has nowhere to go and simply gets recycled without something to purify it. Just research home air purifiers to find one that best fits your office setting.

Temperature:

We’ve all been in that workplace “perfect storm” where our station has been positioned right under the ventilation ducts, and it’s never fun. Sure, the main temperature gauge might say that the office itself is a perfect 71 degrees, but if you’re directly beneath the gale-force A/C winds or the scalding heat coming from that vent, you know that number doesn’t apply to you. Unfortunately, it’s been scientifically proven that if we’re too hot or cold it can adversely affect our work performance. You can combat this in a couple of different ways: change your clothing based on the “indoor season,” or get a small fan or desk heater for your space.

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Noise:

Of the many things that have been shown to distract us from the things we’re supposed to be focusing on, noise is one of the worst. Unlike visual distractions, you can’t just close your eyes or turn away and be done with it, and if you simply try to distance yourself from it, you might find it to be a long trip indeed. Luckily, there are ways to drown out or dampen noise that have been shown to help: earplugs lessen the negative impact of distracting sounds, and headphones can help you to cancel it out with sounds or music you want to hear. In fact, a number of studies have shown that classical music can actually increase productivity and even make you smarter—at least while you’re listening to it!

Organization:

Yes, yes, messiness is the sign of a creative mind and all that, but try arguing that to your boss or clients when you miss a deadline because you forgot the project was due or couldn’t find important documents in all of that creativity-inspiring junk piled on your desk. If you want to work more efficiently, schedule your tasks on calendar programs and invest in a nice filing cabinet and desk organizer.

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The most important thing you can do is to create a functional space over which you have as much control as possible so that you know you can change things to suit your needs and the tasks at hand whenever you want. Once we feel like we’re more in charge of our domain, we let down our guard, and free ourselves up to focus properly.

Featured photo credit:  Modern interior of office via Shutterstock

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Last Updated on October 13, 2020

How to Get Promoted When You Feel Stuck in Your Current Position

How to Get Promoted When You Feel Stuck in Your Current Position

Have you been stuck in the same position for too long and don’t really know how to get promoted and advance your career?

Feeling stuck could be caused by a variety of things:

  • Taking a job for the money
  • Staying with an employer that no longer aligns with your values
  • Realizing that you landed yourself in the wrong career
  • Not feeling valued or feeling underutilized
  • Taking a position without a full understanding of the role

There are many other reasons why you may be feeling this way, but let’s focus instead on learning what to do now in order to get unstuck and get promoted

One of the best ways to get promoted is by showing how you add value to your organization. Did you make money, save money, improve a process, or do some other amazing thing? How else might you demonstrate added value?

Let’s dive right in to how to get promoted when you feel stuck in your current position.

1. Be a Mentor

When I supervised students, I used to warm them — tongue in cheek, of course — about getting really good at their job.

“Be careful not to get too good at this, or you’ll never get to do anything else.”

This was my way of pestering them to take on additional challenges or think outside the box, but there is definitely some truth in doing something so well that your manager doesn’t trust anyone else to do it.

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This can get you stuck.

Jo Miller of Be Leaderly shares this insight on when your boss thinks you’re too valuable in your current job:

“Think back to a time when you really enjoyed your current role…You became known for doing your job so well that you built up some strong ‘personal brand’ equity, and people know you as the go-to-person for this particular job. That’s what we call ‘a good problem to have’: you did a really good job of building a positive perception about your suitability for the role, but you may have done ‘too’ good of a job!”[1]

With this in mind, how do you prove to your employer that you can add value by being promoted?

From Miller’s insight, she talks about building your personal brand and becoming known for doing a particular job well. So how can you link that work with a position or project that will earn you a promotion?

Consider leveraging your strengths and skills.

Let’s say that the project you do so well is hiring and training new entry-level employees. You have to post the job listing, read and review resumes, schedule interviews, make hiring decisions, and create the training schedules. These tasks require skills such as employee relations, onboarding, human resources software, performance management, teamwork, collaboration, customer service, and project management. That’s a serious amount of skills!

Are there any team members who can perform these skills? Try delegating and training some of your staff or colleagues to learn your job. There are a number of reasons why this is a good idea:

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  1. Cross-training helps in any situation in the event that there’s an extended illness and the main performer of a certain task is out for a while.
  2. As a mentor to a supervisee or colleague, you empower them to increase their job skills.
  3. You are already beginning to demonstrate that added value to your employer by encouraging your team or peers to learn your job and creating team players.

Now that you’ve trained others to do that work for which you have been so valued, you can see about re-requesting that promotion. Explain how you have saved the company money, encouraged employees to increase their skills, or reinvented that project of yours.

2. Work on Your Mindset

Another reason you may feel stuck in a position is explained through this quote:

“If you feel stuck at a job you used to love, it’s normally you—not the job—who needs to change. The position you got hired for is probably the exact same one you have now. But if you start to dread the work routine, you’re going to focus on the negatives.”[2]

In this situation, you should pursue a conversation with your supervisor and share your thoughts and feelings to help you learn how to get promoted. You can probably get some advice on how to rediscover the aspects of that job you enjoyed, and negotiate either some additional duties or a chance to move up.

Don’t express frustration. Express a desire for more.

Present your case and show your boss or supervisor that you want to be challenged, and you want to move up. You want more responsibility in order to continue moving the company forward. Focus on how you can do that with the skills you have and the positive mindset you’ve cultivated.

3. Improve Your Soft Skills

When was the last time you put focus and effort into upping your game with those soft skills? I’m talking about those seemingly intangible things that make you the experienced professional in your specific job skills[3].

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Use soft skills when learning how to get promoted.

    According to research, improving soft skills can boost productivity and retention 12 percent and deliver a 250 percent return on investment based on higher productivity and retention[4]. Those are only some of the benefits for both you and your employer when you want to learn how to get promoted.

    You can hone these skills and increase your chances of promotion into a leadership role by taking courses or seminars.

    Furthermore, you don’t necessarily need to request funding from your supervisor. There are dozens of online courses being presented by entrepreneurs and authors about these very subjects. Udemy and Creative Live both feature online courses at very reasonable prices. And some come with completion certificates for your portfolio!

    Another way to improve your soft skills is by connecting with an employee at your organization who has a position similar to the one you want.

    Express your desire to move up in the organization, and ask to shadow that person or see if you can sit in on some of their meetings. Offer to take that individual out for coffee and ask what their secret is! Take copious notes, and then immerse yourself in the learning.

    The key here is not to copy your new mentor. Rather, you want to observe, learn, and then adapt according to your strengths.

    4. Develop Your Strategy

    Do you even know specifically why you want to learn how to get promoted? Do you see a future at this company? Do you have a one-year, five-year, or ten-year plan for your career path? How often do you consider your “why” and insure that it aligns with your “what”?

    Sit down and make an old-fashioned pro and con list.

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    Write down every positive aspect of your current job and then every negative one. Which list is longer? Are there any themes present?

    Look at your lists and choose the most exciting pros and the most frustrating cons. Do those two pros make the cons worth it? If you can’t answer that question with a “yes,” then getting promoted at your current organization may not be what you really want[5].

    The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. —Mark Twain

    Here are some questions to ask yourself:

    • Why do you do what you do?
    • What thrills you about your current job role or career?
    • What does a great day look like?
    • What does success look and feel like beyond the paycheck?
    • How do you want to feel about your impact on the world when you retire?

    Define success to get promoted

      These questions would be great to reflect on in a journal or with your supervisor in your next one-on-one meeting. Or, bring it up with one of your work friends over coffee.

      Final Thoughts

      After considering all of these points and doing your best to learn how to get promoted, what you might find is that being stuck is your choice. Then, you can set yourself on the path of moving up where you are, or moving on to something different.

      Because sometimes the real promotion is finding your life’s purpose.

      More Tips on How to Get Promoted

      Featured photo credit: Razvan Chisu via unsplash.com

      Reference

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