Monday, November 4, 2013

How to Make Your Workspace Work For You


Below are some tips from Steve Pavlina on how to turn your office/workspace into an enjoyable space. Note that the rule in designing an enjoyable workspace is that you do only what you like and are comfortable with.

1. Choose Peaceful and Relaxing Colours to Create the Right Ambience

To make your office look appealing you should start with the colours of the office. Colours and lighting tend to have an effect on a person’s mood. Pavlina advises trying to find out the emotions that your current office settings invoke in you. He suggests stepping into your office while paying attention to your sense impressions.
He says you should go with your own taste and emotional preferences and not try to copy what works for someone else as you try to redesign your workspace. For example a particular programmer prefers working in a dark room without windows and says he loves it that way. Different things work for different folks when it comes to having a nice office ambience.
Try whatever works for you; new furniture, photos, wallpapers, artworks, flowers, etc. if you have the authority you can also change the lighting in your office to reflect what you really want.
2. Clear Out the Cluster
Most times disorganised workspaces mirror the person occupying the space as stressed and unorganised. A cluttered workspace hardly helps your focus and will rather hamper your productivity.
It is advisable to go for a clear and minimal office arrangement. Put files and documents away in a file cabinet until you need them. Keep only things related to your current task on your desk. Having a free work environment does wonders for your feeling and when you feel good about where you work you do better.

3. Add Plants and Flowers

Use living oxygen-generating plants in your office if you can. Pavlina advises using life plants and not fake ones. Water them regularly. He insists that when you see the plant blossoming your mood directly will respond positively each day you enter your office to work. Nice plants and flowers around the office will certainly do more good than harm and may even bring some luck :)

4. Add a Good Smell

Have your office or workspace smell good; it will certainly lift your spirit. Find sweet smelling scent candles or scents. Certain scents like lemon and lavender have significant good effects on productivity.

5. Play Relaxing Music

Pavlina says you should experiment with various styles of music to discover which suits you and has good positive effects on your stress level and productivity. While for certain work you might want total silence good music can keep you going through some tasks smoothly.
Research extensively and build your playlists accordingly for your use at various times. Personally I have discovered that various music types appeal to me at various times and depending on the type of work. Having diverse and carefully created playlists will prove useful as you play the right music for your work at any time.
Better still you could subscribe to any of the decent music streaming platforms like Iroking and play what you want at any time.
The distribution of the music within your office also matters. Have someone do the right connections with sound systems that soothe and inspire instead of disturb.

6. Get a Decent Chair

You will probably do most of your work on your seat so Pavlina advises you make it very comfortable but not too comfortable. Simply go to the nearest office supply store and find what suits you.

7. Add a Portable Fan

Even with air-conditioning in your office you may have need for a movable fan near your desk to circulate the cool atmosphere and make you a bit more relaxed. You can find good ones at the home appliances stores around.

8. Establish Uninterrupted Periods

There should be periods each day you should do block any form of interruption be it from colleagues, phone calls etc. This should be during periods when you are at the peak of your energy and need to work on your most serious tasks and duties.
However note that some jobs require more solitude and concentration than others; a programmer certainly needs more quiet periods than say a receptionist.
The above tips should get you delivering your best in the most accomodating office/workspace ambience.
If you haven't yet gotten your copy -- it worth the investment...
Organizational Strategies for the Overwhelmed - how to manage your time, space, & priorities, to work smart, get results & be happy -  Kindle - The Book - Nook - Audio Book -  The Seminar

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Time Management & The Power of Focus

Summary: What you focus on will impact your productivity and thereby your time. This is critical time management strategy...continue to read and learn why.

COUNT ON IT - by Gary Lockwood
"What we see depends mainly on what we look for."   John Lubbock

One of my clients (let's call him Mike) was telling me how important it is to him that he sell long-term maintenance contracts, not just  ad hoc projects.

Makes sense. The long-term contracts provide some stability and predictable cash flow. They assist in getting closer to his clients.  They also help him to borrow funds more easily.

So far, so good.

When I asked him how many of these long-term maintenance contracts he has already, he couldn't tell me. He didn't know! He said he's been too busy to track the number of such agreements.

Wait a minute! If this type of agreement is so important to Mike's growth strategy, how can he not know the status?

The fact is that most owners and CEOs know what's important to their enterprise, but can't (or don't) measure those things.

You've heard the old maxim: "You can't manage what you don't measure." You have also likely read the story of the "Hawthorne Effect".

In the late 1950s, the GE plant in Hawthorne, California brought in some consultants to measure the effect of brighter lighting on the productivity of their factory workers. The consultants first took productivity measurements to establish a baseline. Then they intensified the brightness of the lighting and measured again.

Productivity increased.

They increased the brightness even more and productivity went up again. After raising the brightness two more times, they saw two more increases in productivity. On a hunch, they lowered the lighting and measured one more time. Productivity went up!

They figured out that the productivity gains were not related to the brightness of the lights, but to the act of measuring. They were paying a lot of attention to the effectiveness of their workers. And guess what? The workers responded by working more effectively.

What do you pay a lot of attention to? What are you constantly measuring, asking your employees about, talking about and looking at?

When your team knows what's truly important to you, they'll likely pay more attention to those things, too.

Focusing on two or three key business metrics does something else for your behavior. It triggers your Reticular Activating System. Your brain is assaulted by thousands of messages each second. Everything you see, hear, smell, feel and touch is a message entering your brain. The Reticular Activating System filters through all these messages and decides which ones will get page one treatment - that is, arouse the brain.

One of the things we've learned from working with entrepreneurs is that you tend to pay attention to the things, which are important to you at the time. If your currently dominant thoughts are about creating a new brochure, you'll start seeing other brochures. You'll hear conversations about brochures. You'll pick up ideas relating to brochures and even notice colors that would be attractive for the new brochure.

In other words, the Reticular Activating System will pass through anything even remotely related to the important issue - the brochure.

From a practical point of view, this means that, if you want to solve a problem or achieve a goal, keep it at the top of your mind. Think about it, talk about it, write about it and imagine it completed. This is one of the reasons why affirmations work so well and why it is important to review your goals frequently.

If you focus on improving a specific key indicator of your business success, your Reticular Activating System will pass through sights, sounds, people and ideas even remotely related to that point of focus. In other words, if you measure it visibly, frequently and attentively, it will likely improve.

Here's my suggestion: Identify the two to five key measurements and key indicators that are important and essential for your business. Set up an active system to measure and track these indicators. Talk to your employees about it at every opportunity. Put charts and
graphs of these indicators on the wall of the lunch room. Make your interest in these metrics very active and visible.

Chances are, you'll get what you're looking for - improvements in these areas. Count on it!

If you haven't yet gotten your copy -- it worth the investment...
Organizational Strategies for the Overwhelmed - how to manage your time, space, & priorities, to work smart, get results & be happy -  Kindle - The Book - Nook - Audio Book -  The Seminar

Friday, November 1, 2013

Is Decision Fatigue Undermining Your Productivity?

Editor's Note: I curated this because decision-making is a key element of time management and productivity! Managing decision fatigue is a great time management tip!

5 Ways to Inhibit Decision Fatigue for Maximum Productivity BY  

decision fatigue
(CC) Alan Cleaver/Flickr
Decision fatigue — the phenomenon of making poorer decisions after long decision-making periods — is a huge productivity pitfall. Essentially, your mental energy deteriorates after making decisions all day. Judges suffering from decision fatigue might rule againstprisoners up for parole, while a shopper at the grocery checkout line might break down and buy a piece of candy.
Read on for a handful of ways to inhibit decision fatigue to protect your productivity at work.
  • Make important, expensive or mission-critical decisions first. It isn’t always possible to postpone a decision until the next morning; to inhibit decision fatigue, tackle the toughest items and issues first.
  • Avoid back-to-back meetings. Expend all your mental energy at meetings, and you’ll have none left when you return to your desk.
  • Recharge throughout the day. Snacking wisely and emotional refueling are essential for long-term productivity; another way to recharge during the workday is through brief meditation sessions.
  • Get perspective on your goals. It’s much easier to prioritize decisions when you have a firm grasp of your team’s goals and expectations.
  • Recognize when you’re mentally tapped out. Self-knowledge is an effective productivity tool; in terms of inhibiting decision fatigue, a good defense is sometimes your best offense.
If you haven't yet gotten your copy -- it worth the investment...
Organizational Strategies for the Overwhelmed - how to manage your time, space, & priorities, to work smart, get results & be happy -  Kindle - The Book - Nook - Audio Book -  The Seminar