I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “a clean workspace is a happy workspace.” Well, no offense to you organized mess doers, but this is true. If papers overcrowd my workspace, if there are empty coffee mugs or scattered pens, my concentration suffers. I focus more on the clutter than the work. This is why I design a workspace that produces maximum focus.
I say “design” lightly because I’m not saying you need to draw up a workspace on paper and then manifest it to life. What I’m saying is that we all want to improve our focus and concentration. Being focused means we’ll accomplish more. We’ll be more productive. And the state of our workspace plays a huge role in that.
With that said, I wanted to share with you how I design a workspace for maximum productivity and focus. It starts with a pre-work routine where I set up my space for the day. What you do or what you need may vary. Your routine will look different from mine. Whatever you need to do to be effective and productive, do it.
Here’s how I design a workspace that gets me into a focused mindset
#1 — Coffee
I know I’m not alone here when I say I need my coffee in the morning. I’m a coffee drinker by day and a tea drinker by night.
Whatever your go-to morning beverage is — coffee, tea, protein shake — make it and bring it to your workspace with a backup. I always have water on my desk that I refill throughout the day. Once I’m done with my coffee, I switch to water.
If it’s a really busy day, I’ll have a second cup of coffee in the early afternoon. I like to use the time I get up to refill my water to grab some snacks or walk around the house to increase my step count.
Though this is number one on the list, it’s actually the last thing I do before starting my day. I like my coffee hot. But if you’re a fast coffee drinker, you can have one cup while prepping your space. Make your second one right before you sit down to work.
#2 — Aromatherapy
When I design a workspace for maximum productivity, one of the things I need is a nice scent. Yes, coffee holds me over for a while, but once I’m done with it, the smell is gone. Enter essential oils. I love essential oils. In fact, I have a Pinterest board all about them.
I love how versatile the scents are and the combinations you can make. Feeling tropical? There’s an oil for that. Feeling woodsy? There’s an oil for that. Or a combination that can make you feel like you’re working in the woods.
In every office I had before working from home full time I had a diffuser. It’s the first thing I get going. Once I’m dressed, I decide what combination of oils I’m going to use, fill the diffuser, combine the oils, and start it up. If oils aren’t your thing, a candle works just as well. Mom Bun Candle makes amazing soy candles with adorable and relatable names.
I find when I’m able to smell something nice, I’m more relaxed. My concentration spikes. If I’m feeling overwhelmed, I sit back and take three deep breaths. It’s amazing how much aromatherapy destresses the mind.
#3 — Music
Music can be a great mood setter. But when working, it’s important not to blast anything you want. You want the music you play to help not hinder. I love hard rock, but I can’t listen to it while I work. I’m too inclined to bang my head and sing out loud. I need quieter, lyric-less to focus.
When you design a workspace for music, Spotify and YouTube come in handy. They both have a variety of playlists in genres called “Focus” or “Study.” Playlists range from nature sounds to soft piano melodies. My favorite is Spotify’s “Natural Concentration” playlist and their “Productive Morning” playlist. I alternate between the two.
If you need to switch up the genre at certain times of the day, do so. I suffer an afternoon slump around 2:00 pm and need something with a little more pep to push me through the last stretch of the day. That’s when I’ll put on Spotify’s “Beats To Think To” playlist.
And of course, if silence is your preferred companion, by all means, skip this step. There are some days when I don’t play music at all.
#4 — Tidy up
When I say “tidy up” I’m not talking about a deep clean here. I’m talking about a 5-10 minute clean-up of your desk. Pick up loose items. Put pens, pencils, and highlighters back in their cup. Collect discarded paper clips. If there’s a pile of papers, file them away or if they’re needed, set them to the side.
Remove any clutter that covers your workspace. Have items you’ll need within reach. If you don’t need your phone to conduct your business, put it on silent or leave it in another room. More on this in a second.
Your workspace doesn’t have to be sparkling clean. It does need to be effective. Even people who thrive in organized messes know where everything is located. That’s what you’re trying to accomplish with this step. Getting your workspace organized in a way that will increase your productivity.
#5 — Silence your phone
Obviously, if your job requires access to your phone, ignore this step. But if you’re not expecting any calls, it’s best to set your phone on silent. Even better, put it on Do Not Disturb or airplane mode. We’re too distracted by our mobile devices. Raise your hand if you’ve said, “I just need to check this one thing.” Two hours later, you haven’t accomplished anything.
Practice by unplugging for an hour of work. Don’t underestimate what effect that can have on your mindset. We think if we don’t answer that text right away, we’re missing out on something. By putting your phone on silent or airplane mode, you’re allowing yourself to focus on what’s in front of you. What’s crammed inside of your phone’s screen isn’t going anywhere.
If you can go one step further, leave your phone in another room.
Those are the five things I need in order to have a productive day. Remember, once you sit down at your desk, you’re not glued to it. It’s important to take breaks. Get up and stretch.
This pre-work routine allows me to design a workspace that will help me produce my best work. Your routine and the things you need will be different. The routine is more about preparing your brain for the work to come. Preparing your workspace should take no longer than 10 minutes. Any longer and you run the risk of procrastination.
Keep your routine simple. Set up your space and get to work.
Want to learn more about how I organize my day with a to-do list? Check out this blog post where I reveal how I prioritize my daily tasks. Do you have a pre-work routine? Are you a clean desk type person or an organized mess type? What’s your favorite focus beverage? Comment below.