On the other hand, if you’ve ever found yourself twiddling your thumbs, can’t settle in and getting anything worthwhile accomplished; you may find these tips helpful.
Having a conducive work environment is absolutely key to entrepreneurial success, especially if you're working from a home office rather than a private office or coworking space, like the Handshakin' Headquarters here in Denver.
Medical researcher Dr. Esther Sternberg, internationally recognized for her research of the mind-body interaction in illness and healing, explores the connection between our personal environment and our well being in her book Healing Places.
Her work shows that your home and work environment can influence your mood, impact your behavior, motivate you to act, encourage or discourage interactions, and create or reduce stress. Healthy, soothing environments certainly impact your overall well being.
Now that we’re on the same page that your environment impacts your productivity, let’s jump right into actionable changes you can make today.
1. Find a setup you love
Create a home environment or workspace that you love to spend time in. Perhaps add some of your favorite decor items. Invest in high quality furniture. Personally, I love facing a great view while I’m working. Placing your desk facing a window, nurtured by nature, you gain energy and calm stress by simply looking up.
Oh, and I highly recommend making wall space for a whiteboard!
2. Set aside dedicated time for calls and emails
Schedule an hour, maybe two in your day where your sole focus is email or phone calls. Too scary? Try coming back to email only once every two hours. The key is to not be a slave to your inbox and phone. Only answer time sensitive items.
I turned off email notifications from my phone a while back and holy crap, if you still have them on, try turning it off for a day! It has certainly helped me stay more focused, and encourages me to work more efficiently when answering emails.
If social media is your culprit, try plugins such as Stay Focused to help you stay off them while working. Don’t get revved up over the latest post or tweet and be called to answer it immediately. Those funny cat gifs will still be there when you’re done, or even better, you miss them forever. #woof
3. Follow your to-do list
Develop and follow a system for most efficiently accomplishing your daily to-dos. Then focus on your plan by blatantly saying no (again, to phone calls) to anything unrelated.
Start the task and don’t move on to the next until you’ve finished what you started. Even when it’s not the perfect outcome you envisioned at the beginning of the project. The simple act of finishing a task can teach you much about improving on your next attempt.
Not to mention the satisfaction that comes when you cross the finish line. If you are visually motivated, post graphs, charts, calendars or even an inspiring picture on a wall or your whiteboard. When you’ve accomplished your goal, draw lines on those graphs, post your progress and highlights! Trello is also a great tool to visualize your to-do’s
4. Eliminate Clutter
When clutter piles high on every flat surface in your home or workspace with items unnecessary to your current task, it calls for distractions, killing productivity.
Successful people have clean houses (or house cleaners). When you get an office for the first time, it can be so refreshing to have zero clutter, no cleaning, dishes, laundry, etc pulling on you. If getting an office space isn’t an option, set aside time before or after your work day to tidy your workspace.
Better yet, don’t let clutter build up in the first place.
Clutter has been proven to cause and increase stress. Entire industries spring up to help us eliminate this pest creeping up on us. If you are feeling distracted, unable to concentrate or relax, look around and determine what useless things are sitting around your environment; then decide to either find a suitable spot to keep it, donate or gift it, or throw it away.
I asked Heather Hasselbroek, about what makes a great home office:
“The key is to create a space not only pleasing to your eye but also to your body and mind. It doesn't take a massive overhaul of your space - simple, small changes can dramatically impact your productivity.“
5. Surround yourself with quality people
Pulling your headphones in and out of your ear every five seconds might be hurting your goals more than you think. The people you surround yourself with have a significant impact on your time management, concentration and overall mood. This is probably the most used tip to the handshakers (us) over at Handshaking.
Develop a circle of friends and mentors who exhibit a positive attitude, respect your time as an entrepreneur, and have an amount of success comparable to that of which you are trying to achieve.
I asked the founder of a window tinting company in Bay Area, and he said that when he started focusing on a personal network full of fellow entrepreneurs and business owners that his sales increased 38% over the next 2 years annually. He also highlighted that this does not happen overnight, and it took lots of patience.
Do your best to discern and choose honest, trustworthy mentors and friends who you look up to. Be sure that you respect their character and opinions, and don't be afraid to challenge them when you don't understand or have a different opinion. Find those who share the same values as you do, this will make for better conversations, more collaborative work and increase productivity.
What is an actionable thing you’re ready to implement today to better your work day? Have some suggested tips for me? Tweet me @handshakin or comment below.