Productivity 102: A Great Working Environment

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Productivity 101: Setting Out Goals

Surround yourself with people who support you and want what’s in your best interests

  • Talk out your feelings with someone
  • Find mentors and older friends to encourage you and guide you
  • Make more friends at the office
  • Make exciting or fun weekend plans to look forward to
  • Ask for help with jobs you dislike

Make daily routines that support your workday

  • The general idea of being productive throughout days and weeks revolves around a sort of momentum
    • Having rituals and routines bring rest and comfort to your mind
    • Routine also serves to naturally demonstrate that there is a time and a place for everything that needs to be done
  • This does not mean, however, that you are constantly working
    • To constantly work is to run the risk of burning out
    • The most successful people often don’t work that often, and they simply make all of their work count for a lot
  • Make your routines consistent, even through the weekend
    • Adapt the routine slowly as your body adjusts, usually 15 minutes at a time
    • The secret to being effective is to build everything in life around devoted rituals to free up thought and energy for the worthwhile actions and thoughts
      • Flip your medications upside down every time you take them to remember if you took them
      • Cure your indecision with a coin flip
        • If you don’t have a coin to flip, decide even or odd and look at the minute hand of a clock
      • Use a dry-erase marker to write tasks on your mirror
  • Try to remember every common item you use and must bring with some tricks
    • Keep you phone charger easy to grab
      • Put glow-in-the-dark paint on it
      • Glue a bright dot on it
      • Run it through a binder clip secured to something
    • Place it under, over or near something you need to grab to go anywhere
      • Place your car keys on it
      • Put it in a shoe
      • Set it on top of your phone
    • Set an alarm on your wristwatch so that it will beep to help you find it at a specified time
    • Put back things where you first looked for them, not where you found them
    • Do a once-over every time you leave, since forgetting something will guarantee you’ll be late later
  • The night before
    • Take 15 minutes to make a personal journal about everything you’ve done that day
      • It forces the mind to re-assess everything that happened and is necessary for reflection
    • Make getting enough sleep a priority
      • Sleep 7-9 hours a night
      • Limit alcohol intake, even though it will make you drowsy it interferes with sleep cycles
      • Use an app like Sleepyti.me to track when you need to fall asleep
    • Set an alarm for bedtime an hour before to remind yourself to wind down
      • Set aside time to forgive yourself
        • Think of what you learned from what happened
        • Capture the lesson
        • Release the bad feeling
      • Prepare for the next morning
        • Set out your clothes for the next day
          • Set out your workout clothes if you plan to exercise in the morning
        • Make a positive and enjoyable reason for waking up early
          • Write a “Night Before” list
            • Tomorrow, I’m going to (your next day’s 3 most important goals)
            • To be ready, I need to ___
            • I will remember my ___
            • The random thoughts that just filled my head are ___
            • Also I need to remember to ___
      • Have a winding down routine
        • Read a paper novel
        • Drink a glass of herbal tea or cold water
        • Take a bath or shower
        • Floss and brush teeth
        • Lay out pajamas
        • Turn off all electronics, since blue light interferes with sleep cycles
        • Put your keys on anything you need to remember for the next day
      • Listen to white noise or wear an eye mask if you have a hard time with insomnia
  • Morning routine
    • Put the alarm clock across the room to require you to get up to turn it off
      • Never use your favorite song as your alarm clock since you’ll hate it eventually
      • If you keep sleeping through the alarm, set an alarm with a more calming tone 15 minutes earlier
      • If you can’t hear it, put it in a glass bowl or cup
    • Wake up very early at the same time every day and get out of bed immediately
      • If you need to use group showers that are always full, then plan you schedule so that you’ll show up at an odd time that isn’t lined up with waking up on the hour
    • Wake up more easily with a few tricks
      • Splash cold water on your face
      • Take a cold shower
      • Use a blow dryer on the mirror to clean the steam after the shower
      • Drink a cold glass of cold water
        • Add mint leaves or mint oil to the water to make it even more effective
      • Play a video game on your phone
    • Create an auto-pilot routine that strings from one item to the next
      • Write down whatever comes to mind
      • Make your bed
      • Review your 3 primary intentions for the day
      • Inspirational music
      • Meditation, self-reflection or prayer
      • One small task toward your long-term goals
      • Hard physical activity or stretching
      • Take a shower, shave, brush teeth
        • Hold your towel in place from falling with a hair clip
      • Cook a protein-rich breakfast
    • Avoid things that can drag down your morning
      • Reading or listening to the news
      • Not showering
      • A very large breakfast
      • Coffee or other stimulants
        • Waking up shouldn’t be when you should drink coffee, it should be a few hours later when your energy level dips
      • Sleeping in
      • Sitting in bed thinking about sleeping longer
    • If it helps, create a music playlist that gets progressively more energetic that is configured for you to get out of the house on time
  • Use your commute and any other dead time
    • Listen to something productive or inspiring
    • Entertain alternatives like mass transit or bicycling to work
    • Keep worthwhile reading material or a Gameboy next to your house toilet
  • Make time for enjoyment
    • Set aside time to decompress, relax and enjoy a hobby
    • There is no shame or cause for criticism for a preset time for recreation, especially after a good time of productivity
  • Turn small decisions that don’t matter into routines
    • If you can’t decide on something that doesn’t matter in 24 hours, it takes extra energy you didn’t need to spend

Make your work ambiance good

  • Work in a temperature around 70°-85° F (20°-30° C), whether by using the shade or with air conditioning
    • Women on average work best at 2.5° F warmer than men
  • Avoid crowded places, places where a lot of people pass by
  • Stay away from anything that blinks or shines brightly to take away your visual focus
  • Have better colors in your work area
    • Blue and green increase stimulation and productivity
    • Red increases physical energy
    • White reflects light and creates an open-air feeling
    • Yellow increases concentration and inspires

If you work at a desk

  • Decorate properly
    • Try to have natural sunlight from windows, blue-enriched light or full-spectrum light whenever possible
    • Open a window or scent the air with either lemon, jasmine, lavender, rosemary, cinnamon or peppermint
    • Have something inspiring to look at
      • Motivational poster
      • Artwork
      • Inspirational collage
      • A personal photo of family or friends
    • Put a potted plant or herbs near or on your desk
      • Areca palms are natural humidifiers
      • Snake plants are air purifiers
      • Rosemary increases memory retention
      • Lemon balm and citrus improves mood
      • Pine and lavender reduces stress
      • Cinnamon and peppermint increases alertness
      • Cedarwood and vetiver help with focus
    • Put away or get rid of any desk toys to avoid constant distraction
    • Hide cords and wires that come out of the computer
    • Put away clock, deactivate computer clocks and use alarms to track time instead
      • For alarms, you can get a task light that will display regarding reminders
  • Buy better working items
    • Get a comfortable and work-friendly desk
      • Ergonomic/flexible desk chair
      • Medicine ball
      • Yoga ball
      • Treadmill desk
      • Standing desk
    • Get more rounded furniture that has a trendy feel to it
    • Make sure your computer is up-to-date
  • Put away all papers and other actionables sitting on your desk
    • It is a constant reminder of other things that need to be done, which is distracting
    • Create a to do list on a single sheet, then file the papers away

When traveling

  • Try to do any work ahead of schedule in order to permit yourself to have the right kind of work in front of you when in an airport or in a bus
  • Try to cut down on driving time or any other commute time that you can’t get work done
  • Avoid arranging for any internet-based work unless you are absolutely certain you will have uninterrupted service
    • Try not to schedule online appointments, since traveling already has many deadlines
    • Download and research everything in advance that you will need, including anything you’re not sure about
    • Get wireless internet in advance or choose flights with wireless internet if you need the internet
  • Fully charge everything, and consider getting battery backups
  • Bring a power strip if you’re plugging more than one thing in
    • If flying internationally, bring the correct power adapter
  • Bring ear buds or noise-canceling headphones
  • Try to arrange for as much space as reasonably possible
  • Watch out for the seat in front of you and watch your drink

When working from home

  • Keep your meetings in-person to avoid miscommunications
  • Have an overall strategy to avoid getting distracted
  • Set boundaries with any family and friends you may run across
  • Plan what you will eat before starting work
  • Separate your “home” life and “work” life, even if it’s with a small conditioned response
    • Designate a “work area” that has no personal effects or distracting items
    • Designate the rest of the house as the “home area” where no work items will move into
    • Get dressed and shower, even if it’s to go to your computer
    • Wear a work outfit while working
    • Don’t do your household chores when on “work” time
Next: Productivity 103: Maximizing Efficiency