Tips for personalizing your workspace to improve productivity

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Have you ever wondered what it’s like to have a treadmill at your desk so you can walk while working? Or dreamed about having meetings in a conference room that looks like a vintage subway car? Or longed to take your Labrador to work for some unwavering companionship?

If you’ve answered, “Yes” to any of these questions, then you’re definitely not alone. In recent years, tech giants Google and Apple have made headlines with their “playful” work environments, designed to make employees feel more at ease and as a consequence be more creative, collaborative, and productive. With everything from outdoor lounge areas and Lego play stations to hidden reading nooks and user-designed workstations, their workspaces are a far cry from the conventional office and cubicle layouts most of us are used to.

This innovative approach appears to yield good results. In his PsychCentral article “Personalized Workspace Helps Attitude Adjustment,” Rick Nauert, Ph.D. refers to a U.K. study that shows employees who feel comfortable in their workspaces are more engaged with their work. In addition, employees who were allowed to design their own workspace were 32 percent more productive than those who weren’t. Clearly, a lot can be gained by putting your own stamp on your workspace.

Unfortunately, most employers provide conventional work environments with white walls, plain carpets, and standard decorations. However, if this is the kind of office you’re working in, it’s still possible to make your work station an inspiring and productive place. The following tips can help you personalize your workspace to improve your productivity.

  • Declutter and organize. As Huma Qureshi points out in her article titled “Feng shui at work? Go with the flow” for The Guardian, the ancient Chinese art of feng shui dictates that clutter hampers productivity. So if your desk is a jumble of files, reports, and notes, then you definitely need to create some order. Get a file organizer and make sure to put all that paperwork away at the end of the day.
  • Bring in photos of your loved ones and pets. One of the best ways to feel at home is to surround yourself with images of those you care about. Place a framed photo of your significant other on your desk and hang pictures of your family, friends, and pets on your cubicle wall.
  • Choose accessories in your favorite colors. Especially with most office spaces using universal colors such as shades of white or gray, you can brighten your workspace by using accessories in your favorite colors. Think of things like purple post-it notes, yellow pens, an orange stapler, or a turquoise writing pad.
  • Personalize your computer’s desktop image and screensaver. Most of us spend the bulk of our time working at the computer. If your employer’s policies allow, personalize the desktop image and screensaver by using some of your favorite images.
  • Place one or two plants on or near your desk. According to Jonathan S. Kaplan, Ph.D. in his Psychology Today article “Plants make you feel better,” plants can increase attentiveness and raise productivity. Some of the most effective plants include Golden Pothos, Chinese Evergreen, and Arrowhead Vine.
  • Hang up some images that depict something you feel passionate about in your profession. In her Mainstreet article “10 Ways to Trick Out Your Cubicle for Maximum Productivity,” Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell advises that this can remind you of your passion for your field of work. For example, if you’re in marketing, you could hang up some images from your most successful campaigns, or if you’re in renewable energy, you could choose an artistic photo of a wind farm.
  • Listen to your favorite music. Depending on your job and your employer’s policies, you might be able to listen to music at work. If so, that’s a good thing, since according to Associate Professor and Program Director of Music Therapy at Frost School of Music Teresa Lesiuk in Amisha Padnani’s New York Times article titled “The Power of Music, Tapped in a Cubicle,” listening to music at work can help you complete your tasks faster and come up with better ideas than if you don’t. So download a music app to your smartphone—Google Play Music, Spotify, Vevo, and iHeartRadio are all good choices—and use headphones to listen to tunes that make you feel good and help you concentrate.

Select the tips that are appropriate for your work place, and watch how your comfort levels and productivity increase.

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