4 Steps To Creating a Productive Space
Let’s not beat around the bush on this one. Jumping right in here are the 4 exact steps you need to create a really nice productive space:
#1 Every major change starts with a good clear out.
The general condition of your workspace can affect your productivity level tremendously. As the saying goes, “a messy space equals a messy mind.”
As such, organizing your workspace, whether that be in your office or your home, should be one of the first (if not the first) you do before you focus on any of the most important tasks.
Keeping this simple is a really good place to start. That means giving everything a home, even if the “bin” is one of them.
An easy place to start in the beginning is by pairing like with like to get some order—for example, pens with pens, notebooks with notebooks, electronics with electronics and so on.
When you’ve done this, only keep the stuff that you are going to use while helping you identify what you need to toss, like old bills and magazines.
At this stage, you might also want to do a bit of DIY and spruce up your workspace, particularly if you’re working from home. This might be hanging an inspiration picture on the wall or giving the place a lick of paint.
Websites like Pinterest or the office sections in IKEA are useful for some ideas on the kind of workspace you’ll like to create.
The key here is to make you start as you mean to go in and create a workspace you want to work on, not one that you have to drag yourself into each day.
#2 Declutter your laptop/desktop
A similar system should be applied when sorting out the files on your desktop. Ideally, you only want two folders, one for personal (if you keep personal stuff on your laptop) and one for work.
Dump any stuff that you don’t use on the regular.
Subfolders can be created within your work and personal folders to organize what’s important. An example of what these might look like is below:
• Tax information
• Freelance work
• Process flows
To keep your system in check, once a week, set a calendar reminder to reorganize things in their places. This won’t take any longer than 20 minutes, and your productivity flow will thank you for it.
#3 Work against the clock for laser focus
Once your workspace is set up, you’re now all set up to focus on “work”. Another invaluable tool to allow you to stay focused is using productivity timers.
A productivity timer is a stopwatch where you set an allocated time to focus on a task. Not only do they provide simple structure, but knowing that you’re working “against the clock” helps to complete tasks in less time.
Additionally, you’ll get a deeper insight into how you work, including what sort of task you can get done in shorter time scales and longer ones.
Over time it will help you refine your “productivity flow” and become more effective. There are many ways you can do this, including using a stopwatch, a phone, or various online software.
#4 Create a productivity flow ritual
Being in a flow state is a term coined by psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi that means…
…to be fully zoned in on a task, where everything else is in the background of your mind, and you’re effortlessly directing all your attention towards the task at hand.
Just like getting in the zone for a tough workout where you perform a series of stretches or movements, creating a similar ritual of actions (or series of actions) where you complete every time you’re about to start working on an important task.
By doing so, you’re signalling to your brain and your body that you’re about to give all your focus and attention to one task and that you don’t want anything getting in the way of this single-track mindset.
As such, you’re putting a marker down for a flow state to flourish.
You get to choose what your ritual is. For some, it will be meditating for 20 minutes, then clearing the desk of clutter and listening to their favourite song.
For others, it could make a fresh cup of tea, opening the windows to take a few deep breaths and sit and relax and enjoy the calm before the work storm.
The point is to create a series of preceding actions before the main one, repeat every time so that the habitual signals get firing…
…and this repetition will eventually become the trigger for a psychological and biological response in your body that prepares it to focus. Practice makes perfect, after all.
Dominus Owen Markham