You can’t control every aspect of your work environment. Some things, like office politics, gossip and unreasonable colleagues will always be part of the package. Other aspects, like your productivity, are well within your reach.
Whether you have four walls to yourself, or share an office with 10 other cubicle dwellers, there are ways to make your environment more productive. You might not be able to control everything in your immediate working environment, but you can control the following:
Your relationship with your boss:
You may ask, how does your relationship with your boss affect your work performance, and to that extent, your productivity? More than you might imagine. Show me an office where all the employees know exactly what management requires of them, and have open communication channels between both colleagues and senior staff members alike, and I’ll show you a well-oiled machine.
If, for whatever reason, you don’t have an ideal relationship with your boss, put some effort into it from your side. Be open, communicate, and be honest. Ask your boss what is required of you so that you know how to plan for your tasks.
Zone in on your work, zone out on the noise:
Just a note, the “noise” could include gossip and harmful chatter. I have had first-hand experience working in an open plan office. Every office has a group of gossipers or the non-stop chatters. Distance yourself from the noise. Use head phones if you can.
Either compile a “@office” playlist of tracks that help you concentrate (be it music, or neuro-linguistic tracks) or use ear plugs if you work better in silence. I’ve found that just wearing head phones without actually listening to anything has its benefits as well, as people are less like to disturb you when you look occupied.
Clear the clutter:
If you have cables all around and over your desk, come up with a solution to get them out of your way. Use cable tubes and zippers, piper binders or postage tubes. Anything to keep your cables neat, tidy. Also, find a system for your desk that works for you. I get nervous if there’s too much unnecessary paper work on my desk, unfortunately I work with stacks of paperwork during the day. I’ve created several folders that keep everything organized (I’m referring here to the documents I use during the day, documents that cannot be filed away just yet. Outstanding quotes, messages, correspondence to follow up on, sales bookings, etc.)
Therefore, I have only 2 trays on my desk: 1 tray with all the documents that I’m done with; documents I’ll file at the end of the day; and one tray for everything else. In this tray, I have a sub folders marked “Work in Progress,” “Appointments for the week,” and “Messages/Correspondence.”
Be comfortable in your work environment:
This includes taking necessary breaks from the computer screen every hour. Invest in proper seating to reduce the risk of back strain. I stare at a computer screen for the major part of any given day; just taking a brisk walk around the office every hour or two really reduces the strain on your eyes. Keep nick nacks on your table if this works for you.
A photo of a loved one, or a miniature pot plant. The general rule to remember here is to keep personal items to a minimum. You don’t want to fight for desk space with your oversized fern, rows of family photos and plush toys.
You might not be able to control everything in your immediate working environment, but you can control this. Do you have any tips to share for creating a productive work environment?