Give Yourself Space
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Productivity starts with giving yourself enough workspace to accomplish your goals. At minimum, use a space that is 48 inches wide and 24 inches deep, says Sarah Barnard, a Los Angeles–based interior designer.
Get Rid of Clutter
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Think about it: Do those papers on your desk really matter? Not according to Dr. Josh Davis, author of the book Two Awesome Hours. A messy desk can hinder your ability to stay focused. Davis recommends pushing clutter aside when you're sitting down to concentrate and coming back to organize it when you are feeling less inspired to think productively.
Go Paperless Altogether
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One practical tip Barnard suggests to her clients is going paperless. She says getting rid of paper makes an office space feel lighter, brighter, and less cluttered, which is likely to benefit your productive work flow. Consider scanning important documents and finding a way to organize virtually, rather than in folders or file cabinets.
Keep Decorations Minimal
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While having photos and trinkets that relate to positive memories can keep morale high, avoid letting decorations become clutter. In most cases, Barnard says less really is more.
Organize Using a Planner
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Use a planner to prioritize tasks and set goals for the day. Keeping one nearby while working will help remind you of the important things you need to do while making sure you don't forget the smaller things that still need to be done.
Photo: Day Designer
Use a Fresh & Light Color Scheme
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To keep your mind focused, decorate using a clean color scheme and stick with calming colors like plum, lavender, blue, and green in an office. Artists and other creative workers should consider white or light gray walls, Barnard says. This is because ambient light bounces off colored walls, which can affect the way art looks in another setting.
Use the Right Light
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And by that, we mean cool light with a hint of blue. This is because blue light, like the kind cast by a clear blue sky, causes the photo receptors in your eyes to transmit signals to your body's circadian clock that tell the brain to stay awake, Davis says. This type of light keeps the mind alert, decisive, and focused.
Sit Near a Window
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Of course, the same is true for natural light. However, working in a space where you can look outside is beneficial for other reasons as well. It's hard for the brain to stay focused after about 15 minutes of work, Davis says. Allowing your mind to wander while looking at nature encourages creativity and will allow you to return to your work more refreshed after a few minutes.
Decorate Using Plants
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Barnard and Davis agree that decorating with plants increases productive thinking. Plants are a type of personalization that is restorative and refreshing for the brain, Davis says, because they can briefly distract you from what you are working on but they don't force your brain to process new information.
Keep Your Personal Tastes in Mind
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There is no right or wrong way to keep your work supplies organized. Barnard says it's best to cater to your personal taste. If you like having pens in a decorative cup in the corner of your desk, perfect. But if you're the type who wants them organized in acrylic containers in a desk drawer, that works too.