Whether working from home or working in an office, sometimes the way you have your computer and desk set up can hinder your productivity. Sound a little crazy? Try working on a laptop in your living room, sitting on the couch in front of your TV. It sure sounds great, but it’s not ideal for your work habits. You’ll find yourself distracted in no time.
It begs the question: what are some ways you can set up a work environment to be more productive?
It doesn’t matter if you’re working from a traditional desktop or a more portable laptop, you’re likely spending most of your time working behind a desk. You probably sit down the whole time, right? There’s actually another way to work while you’re at a desk.
One of the latest trends is the idea of a standing desk. The concept is simple: Instead of sitting down for extended periods of time, you stand next to your desk while you work. Many large tech companies like AOL, Google, Twitter and Facebook have adopted this setup for their employees. That’s because it’s much more productive and it helps you stay focused. A team from Draugiem Group measured their activity while sitting and standing, and figured out that productivity increased about 10% while standing.
Plus, it’s healthier for you. There are studies that have shown those who sit for a majority of their workday are 54% more likely to die of a heart attack.
Swap your chair for an exercise ball
We’ve established that standing is healthier for you, but what if you don’t want to stand — or can’t because of a medical issue? You can swap your normal desk chair for an exercise ball.
There are a couple reasons why this is a good setup. It’s much better for your posture than sitting in a regular chair — though it may cause other posture issues — and it can help you burn calories while you’re trying to remain upright.
There are some drawbacks to using an exercise ball, though. They don’t include any arm rests, which actually help take some of the stress off your neck, back and upper body when you sit. In addition, exercise balls tend to be wobbly, and it’s tough to anchor them in place. Therefore, it’s possible you may hurt yourself while trying to stand, sit down or even just remain in place if you’re not careful.
Still, the fact that an exercise ball burns more calories is enough to throw it into your daily routine. Maybe alternate between sitting on a ball, standing and sitting in a regular chair throughout your day?
Ditch the second monitor
Many who use a dual display setup will swear that it allows them to be more productive. It makes sense; after all, they have more space to work with and can have more windows or applications open and active at any given time.
The truth may actually be the exact opposite. Having so much space to fill the screen with added stimuli could mean that you’re only distracting yourself more. Farhad Manjoo, a tech journalist for the New York Times, found that when he powered down his second display, he remained much more focused on his current task.
Much of this can be attributed to the fact that we’re not all that productive naturally. It’s easy for many of us to be distracted and get lost in the Internet. Once that happens, it can take as long as 25 minutes to regain focus and get back on track.
Secure your work environment
Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister found during an experiment that work environment — such as your office location — can absolutely affect productivity ratings. That’s why you need to lock down and secure as much as you possibly can in your work environment to remove any and all distractions. This is especially true if you work from home, and it should be explored in varying levels.
First, you have your actual work environment like your desk, office, chair and the general area where you work. Then, you have the equipment you use to complete your work such as your computer, laptop and smartphone. Finally, you have the exterior environment, such as the rest of your house, your place of work or maybe even the rest of the coffee shop you’re visiting for the day.
Securing your work environment simply means removing and locking down anything that might cause distractions during your day. Have your desk clean and tidy, and have all your supplies, equipment and tools handy when you begin working.
As for your computer, make sure your desktop is tidy, and all the files and applications you need are easily accessible. In addition, ensure your home or office network is secure to prevent you or other employees from outside intrusions. Services like NetGuard keep hardware secure, right along with your network and anyone else connected to it.
Finally, ensure that you avoid and eliminate as many exterior distractions as possible. Try to find a secluded place to work where no one will bother you. If you’re in a place like a public coffee shop, try to find a back corner or small nook where you can be alone for a majority of your time. If you’re at home, close the door to your office and ask any family members that are home to allow you privacy while you work.
Most of this sounds straightforward, but securing all aspects of your work environment is an extremely important part of remaining productive throughout your workday. When paired with some of the other suggestions on this list, you could end up becoming one of the most productive workers for your company.
By Kayla Matthews, BDLive