Have you ever had one of those days where you’ve got loads of things to complete on your ‘to-do’ list but you just aren’t being productive?

From my experience, one of the biggest reasons for this isn’t about what you’re doing (or not doing) but WHERE you’re trying to do it from!

So today let’s have a chat about the link between your working environment and your productivity, to see where you can re-design elements of it.

I know for that me sitting behind the same desk doing all manners of different tasks just doesn’t work!  This is because our mind makes associations between our environment & how we feel – without us even realising it.

A classic example of this is if you’ve been summoned to the ‘bosses’ office (or head teacher’s office back in the days), where you were given a slap on the wrists or some bad news (metaphorically of course).  If you were then invited back into that room for a ‘chat’ about your future, you’re mind may automatically be thinking & keeping you in the state of – ‘ohhh ohhh – this isn’t good news!’ – even though it may be good news.

So take it back to your working environment now.  Can you imagine if you were having to get your head down to work through a 100000 line spreadsheet and that was your most dreaded task of the week.  You wouldn’t really be finding it stimulating now would you, so you wouldn’t be totally pumped up or motivated, would you?  But if you’ve been there sat at the same place doing that type of work repeatedly – your mind can start to link that desk (or environment) to those types of tasks.  So even if you look at the desk, it could automatically trigger you to have those same feeling!

But would you necessarily get your most creative pieces of work written whilst sitting at that same desk, if your body & mind associated it with being in the ‘spreadsheet/numbers’ zone?  No way!

The good news is that there are so many different ways that you can mix things up (kinda like tricking your mind) – to do different tasks or activities in different places (or even in different way).

For example, I purposefully choose where I’m going to be working throughout the week & the location of where I work from varies.

I knew early on from being my own boss that I would drive myself mad if I was cooped up in an office by myself every day.  So even though I have an office (& am moving into a new cool office next week – very excited!!) – I don’t make myself stay there to do everything.  Even around my office, I have different ‘zones’ – where I do different types of work.

Like when I am coaching clients on the phone or Skype – I tend to sit at a different desk from when I’m doing my e-mail & admin work.

When I need to get creative when writing new workshop materials or blogs – you’d often find me in a coffee shop.

I’m also very lucky to have found a co-working/business members place in Glasgow (SocietyM) where I spend some days a week, where I get to surround myself with other like-minded business owners.  This is also where I’ve tended to have meetings.

So I tend to schedule out where I’ll work from in advance & then arrange my meetings or activities around where I’ll be.

It makes a huge difference for how productive I am, so how about you give it a go & see how it can work for you?

Even if you have less ‘flexibility’ in terms of different locations you could work from – how about creating different ‘zones’ in your work place?  (When I worked in the corporate world, whenever I was on a phone call, I would automatically walk around in circles in beside a window (with a view of St Paul’s Cathedral in one of my last jobs!))

Let me know where some of your best places are to work from & also what changes you’re going to make to your working environment, by adding a quick comment below.

Enjoy the rest of your week & I look forward to connecting again soon.

Showing 5 comments
  • Susan Grandfield

    I love grabbing a notepad and pen and heading to the park. There’s something about being outdoors, especially when there are beautiful flowers blooming, to give me the creative nudge I need sometimes!

    • Osmaan Sharif

      Hi Susan – totally agree. Being outside can really change how you feel & get the creative juices flowing. I do that when I need some notepad & pen bonding time too 🙂

  • Sam

    For the record, at this precise moment in time, I’m drinking a green smoothie and eating a Green & Blacks Easter egg…. 😉

    I love that idea about having an anchor around certain environments and how that can stifle or even feed creativity. I love to work in certain coffee shops, but I know that in others I associate them purely with meeting people and when I think about working there, I don’t feel comfortable. Interesting.

    • Osmaan Sharif

      Ok Sam so please let me know – did the green smoothie & Easter egg go down well together?

      That’s a great point about the coffee shops & it’s got me thinking. There are some Starbucks that I go to for ‘work’ mode & then others I keep more for ‘social’ – never actually realised that before now 🙂

  • Fran

    Like Susan – it is the outdoors for my creative moments. Walking, talking, thinking – space.
    Indoors I have now moved to a standing desk and love it. My posture is better – I feel more open – and it’s better than sitting around.
    Thanks for the article Os. Reminds me I need to find a positive space for that paperwork…..

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