You can have your dream job, a great boss, even a never-ending supply of your favorite coffee. But if your workspace isn’t quite right, your productivity can suffer.
Whether your office is at home or away, a cubicle or an executive suite, if it’s dark and drab, messy, uncomfortable, and/or full of distractions, some small upgrades can yield amazing results.
We’ve compiled nine simple ways to create a more productive workspace, from reducing clutter in your hard drive to increasing the green around you.
Clear the (physical) clutter
Nothing gets in the way of productivity like clutter. It makes important things hard to find. And, if it’s really bad, can reduce the space you have to actually work. It also can just make you feel lousy. There’s all kind of approaches you can take —and we know it’s easier said than done, especially if you haven’t cleaned your desk and/or office space in a while—but the results are well worth it. We like the “5-S” method and these easy hacks can work for even the most habitually messy among us.
…and the technological clutter
Technological clutter may not take up physical space like a stack of papers, but it can sure slow you down. A cluttered computer desktop—the home screen on your Mac or PC, the one you keep saving a million files on “just for now”—can make finding documents a headache. But cleaning it up is easier than you think. (Here are a couple helpful resources, for both Macs and PCs, to get you started.) Voicemails (insert groan!) can also pile up, especially if, you know, you don’t actually listen to them. But voicemail-to-email services, which send an audio file of each voicemail to your email, make it easy to listen, then delete (or save), as necessary.
Minimize digital distractions
Speaking of technology slowing you down, that tiny computer that’s always in your hand? It’s chipping away at your productivity and you’re going to need to put it away to truly focus. Stay on task by enabling your smartphone’s Do Not Disturb mode (available on all iPhones and Android-based operating systems), which turns off all notifications while still letting important calls and texts through. If your social media/news/cat video addiction still has you reaching for your phone, hide it in a place where you not only can’t see it, you’ll need to physically get up to reach it. If the pull of social media is so strong that it follows onto your actual computer, there’s no shortage of apps to block distracting websites so you can get down to business.
Choose color wisely
Workspace color can have a huge impact on mood, productivity, and creativity. You can do your own research but we’ll save you time and give you the gist of it: calm greens and blues boost efficiency and well-being, yellows spark creativity, and red, used sparingly, is great to capture attention and even increase blood flow. If feng shui is more your thing, lavender, earth tones, and whites are all wise choices. Work in a shared space or cubicle? Zero in on a color and find ways to creatively incorporate it into your space.
Let the light in
If you’ve worked in an office with terrible lighting, you know how it can drain you, hurt your eyes, and even cause headaches. Natural lighting is best for nearly everything, including productivity. If possible, move your desk towards windows and keep the blinds open. Even better, if you’re able to work in a room with more windows, relocate and reap the rewards, including increased alertness and improved sleep when the workday is over. If windows aren’t an option, opt for light bulbs that mimic the sun (“daylight” bulbs).
An uncomfortable workspace is an unproductive workspace. So be sure your office includes whatever keeps you relaxed and ready to get down to business. Maybe it’s a lumbar pillow for your back, a steady stream of good music, photos of family/friends/pets, even just a favorite mug to sip your favorite coffee or tea. It’s also a good idea to keep essentials—such as tissues, a water bottle, and pens/pencils—close at hand to reduce interruptions. Surround yourself with what makes you happy, and what makes your workday easier, and you’ll feel better about spending time in your workspace.
Make it look nice
Offices (and that includes cubicles!) don’t have to be boring! Decorating your workspace will make you feel good every time you step foot in it. And feeling good equals productivity. Even if you’re clueless when it comes to decor, adding a rug or a lamp can work wonders. It doesn’t have to be an expensive venture, either. We love this budget-friendly cubicle makeover video, which transforms a humdrum cube into a lively, bright space you’d actually want to spend time in.
Green things up
While we’re discussing decor, how about some plants? From ivy to succulents, indoor plants are nature’s mood booster, stress reliever, and, believe it or not, productivity booster. They also increase oxygen levels. Don’t have a green thumb? Don’t panic. There are plenty of plants that are virtually impossible to kill, and there are lots of user-friendly guides to help you care for them.