10 Ways to Make Your Workspace More Productive

After Jason Calacanis wrote this about saving money with your startup, I thought I would republish something I wrote on Startup Spark about a year ago. It is workspace focused but it is funny how many of the things he says match up. Enjoy…

10 Ways to Make your workspace more productive
I was motivated by Anne Zelenka’s article “Redo Your Workspace for Productive Web Working” to evaluate my workspace and since I can’t change the Starbucks I work out of most of the time I focused on the home office.

In a word – depressing. No wonder I escape the house to drink coffee, talk to the regulars (including Aaron Brazell of B5) and meet with clients.

Anne’s list is the following:

  1. Lift up your laptop – DONE
  2. Eliminate wire – Yeah, right….
  3. Organize remaining wires – I tried, still a rat’s nest
  4. Arrange displays according to work activities – Multiple monitors required here
  5. Coral office supplies – Does throwing them all in a closet count?
  6. Put your daily to-do list in a special spot – Does the same closet count for this one too?
  7. Make sure your ongoing list is easily available – I guess opening the closet door counts, so DONE.
  8. Straighten your piles – gotta love that closet

So obviously I need ALOT of work on the home office. Here is my list of 10 Ways to Make Your Workspace More productive:

1. Identify “turn-off” time and stick to it

– I find that have times of the day where there are no distractions allows me to do better brainstorming and thinking. Around 3pm I turn off the phone and shut down the e-mail to do this kind of work for about an hour. You will find yourself more productive.

2. Use multiple monitors

– These are fairly inexpensive now and you should have at least two and probably three

3. Leverage the GTD methodology

– Read and re-read the book “Getting things Done”
– Read 43 Folders by Merlin Mann
– Buy 43 actual folders at Office Depot

4. Get a stand up desk

– I did some contract work at the Capital during Speaker Gingrich’s reign and when I was in his office the one thing that stuck out – no chairs. He had a stand up desk and to the left was a sofa with banks of phones sitting on top. There was a huge conference table with no chairs. What this meant it that when he was at his desk he didn’t waste time and when people came into brief him they were to the point and didn’t waste his time. If you can get one of these, you will be more productive. I guarantee it.

5. If you must sit, spend the most money on your chair

– Many of us are not able to stand all day and we must sit down to work. SO GET A GREAT CHAIR! I can’t emphasize this enough. People spend $50,000 on a car with amazing seats the sit in for an hour a day and get all cheap on the office chair they sit in 8-16 hours a day. Spend the $800-1200 on a chair. You will be more alert and you will be more productive.

6. Toys
– I love toys. Maybe because I believe everyone should find their inner eight year old or maybe because it is not how old your body is, it is how old you mind tells you that you are. Toys are a nice and fun distraction. Distractions are important and make life fun. I have a USB missile launcher. Totally geeky but fun and a nice distraction when I put something (like a bill) across the room and aim for it. Good toys include stress balls, puzzles, etc.

7. No food in the office
– Yeah, I know you eat at your desk, don’t deny it. It makes you more efficient? Right? Wrong. While eating at your desk might allow you to get that hour in of work you never quit early and you just miss an important break which can make you more productive in the afternoon. Read the book “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi. It is about building business relationships and keeping your network fresh. Plus, when you get back to the office you will feel up and energized to be productive for the rest of the day.

8. Buy good storage containers to get rid of the clutter
– Anne mentioned corralling supplies and organizing piles. The best way to do this is with containers. File cabinets, plastic bins and rollable drawers can really get you organized and with this out of sight the distractions will help you focus and be more productive.

9. Implement Zen – music, fountain, plant or portable fan
– I am not going get all Feng Shui on you but I will say that there are merits in that concept if you do it right. If there is not a good way to do it, you should at least bring in the environment that helps you relax and becomes part of a meditative background that improves your productivity. You can accomplish this with your favorite music, a portal fountain, some plants and even a fan. Just find what works for you.

10. Get rid of the stink
Nothing is worse than an office that smells too much like, well, you. This is linked with the eating in your office thing. Trash and all kinds of stuff add the odor and when you have clients or colleagues over, they like you but they really don’t want to smell your presence – literally. Add some air fresheners and aromatherapy. Those types of scents can also help you stay alert contributing to your productivity.

I would love to hear if you have tried any of these things and they have worked or not worked. Let me know if you want more content on the productivity topic and I will make this a regular subject.