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
  • 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
      • 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
    • Wake up very early at the same time every day and get out of bed immediately
    • 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
      • 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
      • Sleeping in
      • Sitting in bed thinking about sleeping longer
  • 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
      • 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