There are many ways to improve productivity. Better sleep, regular exercise and a healthy diet are common examples – but many people overlook how their environment affects focus.
An organised and distraction-free environment helps build positive habits. In contrast, a cluttered workspace makes it difficult to concentrate on your current task. With that in mind, here are four ways to improve your productivity.
1. Declutter Your Phone to Create Positive Habits
How many apps do you have on your phone’s home screen? And how many of those contribute positively to your productivity and self-improvement?
If you’re anything like I was a few months ago – not many!
One of the best ways to improve your productivity is to clear out all the social media apps and other time wasters from your home screen. You don’t need to uninstall these apps – although it’s even better if you do – but just having them out of sight makes it less likely for you to open them.
To make this tip even more effective, replace the apps with others that do contribute to your goals. I replaced Facebook, Reddit and Instagram with the Kindle App, for example, so I was reminded to read whenever I had a spare moment. Language learning apps and brain training games are two other good examples.
2. Clear Your Workspace to Prevent Distractions
It’s hard enough to stay focused on a mentally demanding task with no external distractions. If your workspace is cluttered, productive work becomes even more difficult. This is because the more visual stimuli your mind needs to process, the less focused you’re likely to be.
Start by removing anything from your office that doesn’t need to be there. Non-essential stationary, books and paperwork should either be put away or thrown out. If you can’t find a good reason for an item to be within touching distance when you’re working, it shouldn’t be there.
For me, the only thing I want on my desk is a journal, pen and mug of tea. Everything else is filed away so I know exactly where to access it.
This isn’t just about creating a minimalist workspace for the sake of appearance. When there are fewer items cluttering your workspace, it’s much easier to find what you actually need. Your mind is also free to focus on the task – not on shuffling files or papers around your desk to make space.
Most importantly, your phone should never be nearby when you’re trying to be productive. Leave it in a different room and on silent, so you won’t be tempted to check your messages.
Don’t stop with your physical workspace though. Get rid of unnecessary notifications on your computer too, including email, as this is often the first source of distraction. It’s also a good idea to clear your desktop of unnecessary icons so you have quick access to the software you need.
3. Remove Multiple Monitors – Unless You Can Stay Disciplined
If you have multiple monitors, you might want to consider whether these are really increasing your productivity. While they can be useful for writing or coding, it takes discipline to not have YouTube or social media on the second screen.
This doesn’t mean you need to get rid of your beloved monitor though. You can gain the same benefits by switching it off whenever you’re working on a task that doesn’t require the extra desktop space. Give it a try – you might be surprised at how much more productive you are with a single screen.
4. Filter Air to Relieve Airborne Allergies for Better Performance
Many people have mild allergies to dust mites, pet dander or other airborne allergens. These can cause tiredness, poor sleep quality, a stuffy nose and difficulty concentrating.
Getting rid of allallergens is impossible. But there are a few things you can do to improve your home’s air quality and relieve many of the symptoms. These include:
- Buy a vacuum with a HEPA filter. One of the best things you can do to improve air quality is to ensure your vacuum has a HEPA filter. These are more effective at preventing allergens being pumped back into the air than regular foam filters. If your allergies are often worse after vacuuming, a HEPA filter is essential.
- Reduce the humidity in your home. Dust mites, which live in mattresses, carpets and other warm areas of the home, are one of the most common causes of allergy symptoms. They are also most likely to affect sleep quality, which is vital for productivity. You can kill them by lowering the humidity in your home, as mites can only absorb water in high humidity conditions.
- Sleep on mite-resistant bedding. Anti-allergen bedding can trap dust and other particles to prevent them affecting your sleep. You should also vacuum your mattress regularly to minimise allergens in the bedroom.
- Replace carpets. Carpets are more comfortable than hard floors, but they trap allergens. If you really want to relieve allergy symptoms, replace them with hardwood or vinyl flooring.
Note: If you suspect you’re suffering from an allergy, you should always visit your doctor. He or she may prescribe medication to control the symptoms, depending on the severity of your allergy and how much it’s affecting your life.
While there are plenty of ways to improve productivity, you shouldn’t overlook your environment. By decluttering your workspace, removing distractions and improving your home’s air-quality, you can almost instantly become more productive.