How Productive is Your Desk Space?

How Productive is Your Desk Space?
Zen and the art of setting up a productive workstation.
 By: Ayla Khosroshahi, MA, ACC

How aware are you of your space in relation to your productivity? The energy we receive, and which is taken, by our physical spaces is remarkable. Our “stuff” can create barriers for our thinking and our growth. Your primary space of work has a direct effect on your output. The poor lighting, uncomfortable chair, piles of papers and unnecessary distractions are hindering your ability to perform at your best. Implement these 5 tools to optimize your productivity by setting up your desk for success.

  1. Less is more
    The brain has a limited capacity to process information. Looking at too many things at once overloads the visual cortex. This reduces the brain’s ability to process information, focus, and make decisions. The visual intake of multiple stimuli makes us feel overwhelmed. Studies have shown that the brain is able to absorb only 1% of the visual information presented. This suggests that information overload is real. For the brain, less is actually more. Identify what the essentials are that need to be on your desk. All non-essentials should be stored in an organised manner in drawers or compartments under or beside your desk — not in your visual frame. Declutter your desk to only have what you actually use everyday. That means keeping even decorative elements to a minimum (we suggest 1–3). You decide where your creative energy goes. The more there is around you, the more energy the stuff is taking from you, and from all the things you could be creating.
  2. Start Fresh
    One of the best ways to have a productive workday is to start fresh. Imagine coming to a clutter-free and clean desk first thing in the morning. The best way to ensure this happens is to create a ritual of cleaning up before the end of your day. When you first arrive in the morning your energy should not be zapped by yesterday’s to-dos. This is your most productive time so you want to optimize it for success. Allocate 10–15mins at the end of your day to put things away, cleaning things up, and getting things ready for the next day. Give yourself the daily gift of starting fresh, and who knows what you can create!
  3. Have a toy
    Have something close by or on your desk that you can play with when you are stuck for ideas. Instead of switching your attention to your phone or computer, try playing with Baoding balls, stress balls, fidget spinners, Buddha boards, or just a scratch pad to doodle. Something that inspires play, joy, freedom and does not use the internet or a digital screen. This will allow your brain to wander without sucking your creative energy and zapping your day away. Staying in the zone means you have to actively decide what you allow to distract you and how you decide to create healthy barriers. We all need to daydream here and there. Use this time to promote creativity and mindfulness and see how it affects your creativity.
  4. Healthy Setup
    Sitting is not an ideal position for the body to be productive for long periods of time. The setup of your chair, the lighting, air, keyboard and screen all play a role in your performance. The sounds, position, tilt, and height all affect your output. Ensure you desk is as ergonomic as possible. Do an all-senses scan. What do you smell, see, hear, feel, etc. Ensure you are getting enough light, the air quality is good. Add a potted plant to the environment. Be cognisant of the colours at play and the noises around you. Spend some time setting up your desk to promote the health of your body so your mind can perform at its best.
  5. Move
    No matter how perfect your desk space is, if you are just sitting there all day, it’s going to cause a decrease in your productivity. The brain needs blood flow to stay creative. Increase your productivity by ensuring you are getting up, stretching, and moving at least once every hour. Get outside. Stimulate your body and brain with air and light. The brain needs novelty to inspire new perspectives. Take some time each day, or a couple times a week, to switch up where you work. Change rooms, positions, locations and see what insights are evoked.

How can you set up your desk space for success? What changes will you make?

Optimize your workspace with these 5 tools will help you do better by thinking better. Need help? Connect with us and we will show you how!

Originally published at on September 14, 2017.