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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 May 20, 2020

What Are Analytical Skills (And How to Strengthen Them For Success)

What Are Analytical Skills (And How to Strengthen Them For Success)

Everybody makes bad decisions. Some people, however, are more capable of making better decisions that inch them closer to success.

These individuals are not ruled by emotions, desires, or hunches. Rather, they depend on their analytical skills to overcome challenges regardless of urgency or complexity.

What Are Analytical Skills?

According to Richards J. Heuer Jr., a former veteran of the CIA,[1]

“Thinking analytically is a skill like carpentry or driving a car. It can be taught, it can be learned, and it can improve with practice. But unlike other skills, it is not learned by sitting in a classroom and being told how to do it. Analysts learn by doing.”

Analytical skills can be considered as one of the critical life skills that are not taught in schools. It comprises of visualization, critical thinking, and abilities for gathering and processing information.

Here’s a closer look at some of these abilities:

Visualization

Also tied to a person’s creativity, visualization is the ability to predict the possible outcomes of strategies and actions. In a professional setting, visualization involves the analysis of data – often through illustrations like charts, graphs, and detailed lists.

Critical Thinking

Simply put, a person’s ability to think critically can be measured by his or her consistency in creating reasonable decisions. It pertains to the ability to evaluate information, siphon what’s useful, and draw conclusions without being swayed by emotions.

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As a critical thinker, you’ll find yourself challenging assertions and finding loopholes in proposed solutions.

Computing

Whether you like it or not, you need to be comfortable with numbers if you want to sharpen your analytical skills. Bear in mind that computing encompasses other skills like cost analysis, budgeting, and performing general calculations.

In business, you need to use computations when weighing the risks and benefits of any given strategy.

Problem-Solving

Remember that analytical skills are used not just to understand problems, but also to develop the most suitable course or courses of action. This relates to your goal-setting skills, which involve breaking down and prioritizing between objectives.

Resource Management

Lastly, analytical skills involve some degree of resource management depending on the task at hand.

For example, professionals with a tight schedule must know how to effectively manage their own time – also known as one of the most important resources in the world.

Business leaders, on the other hand, must know how to manage company resources, including cash and manpower. Take note that the definition of analytical skills may change to match the requirements of a specific situation.

For example, upon hiring a web developer, analytical skills may refer to the ability to determine the needs of online users, understand web analytics for optimization, and identify visual elements that can match a company’s brand.

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The skillset above, however, should be applicable in most if not all scenarios.

Develop Your Analytical Skills for More Growth Opportunities

There’s no question that the right decisions lead to positive results. It doesn’t matter if you’re running a business or simply trying to climb the corporate ladder. By training your analytical skills, you position yourself for more growth opportunities while staying away from negligible actions you will regret.

For example, you plan to launch a new startup in your local community – but struggle to decide the niche you want to enter. Since you’ve been a technophile your whole life, part of you desires to invest in a gadget store. If you’re passionate about your business, success will come – right?

If you have sharp analytical skills, you begin to see your plans in whole new dimensions.

What are the possible outcomes of this venture? Does the local market have a need for a new gadget store? How much do I need to get started – and how much should I sell to make a profit?

Depending on your findings, you can determine the feasibility of your business idea without letting your emotions get in the way.

6 Ways to Strengthen Your Analytical Skills

There are several approaches when it comes to developing an individual’s analytical skills. For instance, psychologists agree that reading fantasy stories as a child can help sharpen critical thinking.[2]

Research also suggests that undergoing traditional education has a positive effect on a person’s IQ and analytical skills.[3]

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But as an adult, such opportunities to hone your analytical skills no longer apply. That’s why you need to devise a more deliberate, active approach yourself.

Below are a few strategies to get you started:

1. Ideate Business Ideas

Developing a profitable business idea, whether you pursue them or not, involves numerous challenges. You need a ton of research, computations, and problem-solving to create a tangible business plan.

You can organize your ideas with a note-taking tool like Microsoft OneNote or Evernote. Doing so will allow you to delve deeper into your analysis, organize your findings, and stay focused on roadblocks as well as how to solve them.

2. Leverage Analytical Tools

Aside from note-taking tools, you can also leverage other software that can help with analytical tasks. A money management app like Mint, for example, makes it easy to track your spending habits as well as manage your budget with visual tools. When it comes to prioritizing goals, you can use simple task management apps like Trello or Wunderlist.

3. Have a Personal Learning Library

Thanks to the internet, there’s a colossal amount of resources you can utilize to learn new skills, expand your vocabulary, and train your visualization muscles.

Social media networks like SlideShare and YouTube, for example, offer mountains of tutorials you can access to your heart’s content.

For a personalized learning library, you can download Instagram videos or GIFs from educational accounts like NASA Goddard and the American Mathematical Society. But if you prefer specific, technical skills, then a good place to start would be online learning platforms like Coursera, edX, and Alison.

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4. Participate in Online Communities

The internet is a great place to share experiences, opinions, and sometimes intellectual discussions with like-minded individuals. Reddit, for example, has a place or “subreddit” dedicated for every topic imaginable – from technology to entrepreneurship.

For structured debates, you can head to websites like Debate.org and let other users choose the winner via votes.

5. Seek Mental Stimulation

To keep your mind sharp, make it a habit to engage in mentally stimulating activities, such as chess, puzzles, and brain training apps. A great resource would be Lumosity, which contains dozens of cognitive games designed by teams of scientists and game designers.

6. Keep a Personal Journal

Finally, keeping a personal journal allows you to take a second look at everything that happened in your day.

Remember that writing about learning experiences lets you focus on the lesson rather than the emotion. It will help you analyze how you made your decisions, why you came to certain conclusions, and what you can do to improve in the future.

Here’s How to Create a Habit of Writing in a Journal.

Bottom Line

As an adult, you are required to face a myriad of challenges on a daily basis. Work, school, business, relationships – the list goes on when it comes to the sources of life’s problems. With analytical skills, you can confront and overcome any obstacle standing between you and your goals.

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Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] M. S. Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences: Analytical Thinking?
[2] KD Novelties: Why You Should Read Classic Tales to Your Children
[3] Economic Inquiry: The Effect of Education on Cognitive Ability

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