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5 Simple, Effective and Proven Tips to Optimize Your Workspace

Some of these are so obvious they’re literally right in front of your eyes. I blog on Medium, and if there's something I've noticed it’s that everyone on here seems obsessed (possibly borderline fetishistic) with productivity hacks, best ways to optimize your this or that—and also James Clear’s Atomic Habits.

Nice book cover. Atomic Habits by James Clear.

I blog on Medium, and if there's something I've noticed it’s that everyone on there seems obsessed (possibly borderline fetishistic) with productivity hacks, best ways to optimize your this or that—and also James Clear’s Atomic Habits, which I will admit I have not read (nothing against him I’m sure he’s a great guy, but I have a list of about 295 books and counting that I’d like to get to before my life ends.) The idea that productivity is some mystery that some people have the answer to whereas others are left stuck in the mud is silly. Write a to-do list each day that makes sense according to what you want to do and then do it. It’s that simple.

Am I ever glad that’s out of the way.

Today’s topic is not about how to be more productive, but it is productive-adjacent. Basically, these ‘tips’ can help you be more productive (or, at the very least, will help you to enjoy your workspace more.)

Photo by Carl Heyerdahl.

[Side-note: I’d like to officially announce my selling-out-ness, and that this blog title is exactly the type of shit I’d scroll through while rolling my eyes. Here’s the thing—I don’t think of these as ‘hacks’. I think of them as practical steps you can take to make your workspace more conducive to getting solid work done, and to improve the overall experience of being in your workspacefrom a physical, emotional, mental, psychological, physiognomical and astrological standpoint. Also, screw hacks, just saying the word makes me nauseous.

5 Simple, Effective and Proven Ways to Optimize Your Workspace

I cherish my workspace. It’s where I spend the majority of my time; it’s where I am now, as I sit to write this blog. There are two things I focus on to improve my workspace:

  1. Making your workspace a place you enjoy (like, aesthetically and in terms of comfort.)
  2. Ensuring your workspace is conducive to getting work done.
Tip #1: Use a Desktop Background Photo You Actually Like.

Starting with a softball suggestion—and something you can do in just a few clicks. We spend a lot of time staring at our screens — so choosing a desktop image that you actually enjoy looking at, or one that speaks to you in some way is a simple tip you can do (right now!) to improve your space. This is not groundbreaking advice. Still, I can tell you for a fact that I like to start my day with a clean workspace and a desktop image that looks cool and gives me a sweet feel-good moment. Like this one, by Pouria Serafi on Unsplash:

Photo by Pouria Serafi. I am so sorry for that.

So Pouria self a cup a coffee, and choose a pic of yer fancy, like I did. Anything that puts you closer to your #flowstate. If you’re in the mood for some Italian sight-seeing, by La So:

La So on Unsplash.
Tip #2: Get a Good Chair.

I can’t stress this enough—Get A Good Freaking Chair. If you sit and work at your desk for prolonged periods of time — a good chair is a necessity. The chair I was using had been purchased from Staples probably sometime during the 90s, so it’d reached its comfort-span. After like an hour of sitting on it I’d get serious lower-back pains, which made it difficult to focus. My twin bro got a Secret Lab chair, and then my younger bro got the better one and made a Youtube video reviewing it. Now he makes money from his affiliate links.

Secret Lab chair review by my brother, Daniel. I’m pretty sure he likes it despite the facial expression I chose.

Secret Lab sells gamer chairs and they are expensive. When I tried it I knew I needed to have it. I got mine in the Cookies ‘N Cream fabric and it cost like $650 ish bucks. I’m not sure what technically makes a chair a ‘gaming’ chair, but you don’t need to be a gamer to use it—it’s a chair. As soon as I switched over to the Secret Lab chair, I stopped getting lower-back pains and now I can sit and work comfortably for hours—priceless. So cough up the money you don’t have like I did, and get yourself a quality chair. Hand it over to those corporate jackets that figured out the science behind sitting comfortably for hours on a piece of thick fabric covering steel.

Tip #3: Disable Notifications and Put Your Phone Away.

If you get easily distracted: do this and do it now. It’s a game-changer. Unless you actually need to use your phone for work, try putting it away for a couple of hours during the day. I put mine in a drawer, or in my bedroom while I work in the office—literally anywhere that’s out of sight. Sometimes I just turn my phone off for the entire workday. Removing the source of distraction is the best way not to get distracted. I work on a Mac, so to disable notifications I go to System Preferences, and hit ‘Notifications & Focus’. There you can disable your notifications.

Screenshot of Notifications & Focus on System Preferences.

When you’re in the flow and you get a ping, whether you realize it or not, you just got distracted. Distractions distract. It doesn’t matter how small, anything that pulls you from your focus impacts your productivity and can get you out of your groove. Take preemptive measures so you don’t get distracted.

Tip #4: Sound-Cancelling Headphones.

If you’ve read my blog, ‘It’s 2022, I’m Twenty-Nine and I Still Live at Home,’ you’ll know that I still live at home. There are times when it gets loud, and it can be difficult to focus. In times like these, sound-cancelling headphones are my saving grace. With sound-cancelling I can tune-into the music and tune the ‘ef out of whatever is going on around me. I got the Soundcore Q30 in blue on Amazon (which I guess is slightly more expensive than the standard black.) They’re decent quality, they get the job done and at a reasonable price.

Tip #5: Music playlists that get you in the flow.

If you don’t listen to music while you work, then that’s cool and do what works best for you. For the reasons I just mentioned, I invariably listen to music while I work. I’m listening to music right now, and I’ve found that the type of music I listen to while I work makes an actual difference. Typically I start my day with some rap tunes to get me amped, then I usually switch it up to something more low-key that just plays on in the background. I’m always on the lookout for good music I can listen to while I work, so if you have good music recommendations, please let me know! Here are a couple of my go-to options that I listen to on the reg:

Earl Klugh’s Handpicked album; this Brazilian guy João Gilberto and his Bossa Nova; Mary Lattimore, who is a harpist that a friend suggested I check out. Also, Youtube has a bajillion of these lo-fi hip-hop chill beats that you can easily toss on at any time, and they’re usually pretty decent music to work to.

I hope you enjoyed my 5 Tips to Optimize Your Workspace. I’m curious to know what other people think are essential to workspace optimization. If you have a tip — drop a comment! (and follow my blog :)

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