Productivity and motivation go hand in hand. When you’re inspired, work flows out of you like water out of a spring; when you’re uninspired, it’s like taking blood from a stone. You can’t be motivated all the time, of course, but it sure does help when you are.
What can you do when motivation is elusive? You have two options.
The first is to wait and hope it strikes, which could take weeks or months. The second is to somehow force inspiration to strike. How do you do that? By injecting a bit of freshness and novelty into your workspace. It really works! Here are some ways to do that.
1. Use Different Fonts
Fonts absolutely matter. Whether you’re working on project reports, thesis papers, short stories and novels, or programming projects, you must read onscreen text. Text is displayed with fonts. Some fonts are easier on the eyes than others, and some fonts can even read faster.
Did you know that changing fonts can inspire new motivation? If you’ve been using Arial or Times New Roman or Courier New for years, you may feel like work has grown stale. Try changing to Roboto, Georgia, or Source Code Pro. Try serif to sans-serif, or vice versa.
Such a tiny change can breathe in new life. I personally change fonts every 6-8 months, and it always helps. Seriously, every time!
2. Change Desktop Wallpapers
We all know that the paint color of walls can have subtle but real influences on our attitudes, mindsets, and psychology. Why don’t we treat our desktop wallpapers the same way? If you feel like a room is stale, you paint it something fresh. Why not give your desktop a makeover?
We have an article on boosting your productivity through desktop wallpapers, but you don’t need a “productivity wallpaper” per se. Just the simple act of switching to something new can be mentally refreshing, enough to inspire you — at least for a time. As with fonts, I change my desktop wallpaper every few months for this reason.
3. Change System Themes
You probably don’t take much notice of window borders, colors, or the Taskbar, but your mind certainly does. These things sit in your periphery and subtly influence you, much in the same way as paint on walls. The default blue of Windows 10 is pleasant, but is it best to keep it?
Again, any color is fine as long as it’s different. I went through a phase where I used the “Iris Spring” color on Windows 10, and I believe the atypical color played a huge part in my productivity during that phase. You could also try these Windows 10 dark themes or use this nifty color-changing utility for more control over what you can color in Windows 10.
4. Clean Up Your Desk
Have you heard of cognitive clutter? The act of seeing or hearing clutter, even only in our periphery, requires our brains to continually process that visual and audio information. This subconscious processing adds to cognitive load and consumes brain energy. Even so-called harmless clutter can speed up mental fatigue.
You can learn more in our article on why clutter is really bad for you. Fortunately, addressing it is relatively easy: clean your desk! Not just what’s on it, but everything around it and below it — including messy computer cables. Going completely wireless would be ideal, but if you can’t, we have some tips on concealing cable clutter.
5. Rearrange Your Desk
Once your desk is clean and decluttered, you may want to consider shifting things around. Some things have to stay put of course, such as computer monitors, keyboards, and mice. But anything else that can be moved around should be moved around.
Is your computer tower on your desk? Move it to the other side, or move it to the ground. Got photos of your family? Shift them around or hang them on a wall. Relocate paper inboxes, desk organizers, printers, etc. Something as simple as this can stave off that feeling of “same old, same old” that creeps up on you after a while.
6. Move Your Desk
Not everyone can do this, but if you can, I highly recommend it: move your desk to a spot with as much natural light as possible (i.e. sunlight). Humans thrive much more in natural light environments than artificial light environments. Find a window and relocate.
Furthermore, aim for a spot that minimizes distractions. The ideal spot is a comfortable (i.e. neither too small nor too large) room where you can be alone and is solely dedicated to work. You enter, you work, and you leave when you need breaks or when you’re done for the day.
But even if you can’t do any of the above, the simple act of moving your desk anywhere else can jumpstart the part of your brain that loves novelty (i.e. new experiences), and this alone can inspire you with a boost to motivation and productivity. I try to change desk locations at least once a year.
7. Add a Light Therapy Lamp
Does your workspace lack natural light? Are you cooped up for hours on end, only getting outdoor exposure when you travel between indoor locations? Do you often feel tired, listless, anxious, or fatigued? Does it get worse in the winter?
If you answered Yes, then you may suffer from a kind of environmental depression, and this can severely impact productivity. It’s not the same as clinical depression. It’s a state of mind that comes from spending too much of your time in artificial and unnatural conditions.
Light therapy lamps aim to replicate the benefits of natural light. Just 30 minutes of exposure per day can work wonders, and you can keep it tucked away by your desk. Here are some recommended light therapy lamps to get started. It’s truly a tech purchase you won’t regret.
8. Add or Repot Plants
According to a 2014 study by Cardiff University’s School of Psychology, researchers found that plants in an office workspace can increase productivity by up to 15 percent — and not just productivity, but also workplace satisfaction, self-reported levels of concentration, and perceived air quality.
Our research suggests that investing in landscaping the office with plants will pay off through an increase in office workers’ quality of life and productivity.
Previous studies have also shown to that plants can reduce stress, increase attention spans, and improve overall mental health. Is your desk spartan and greenless? Consider buying a few plants — desk-sized ones aren’t too expensive — and see how they impact your own work.
9. Adjust Room Temperature
According to a 2006 study by a researcher at the Helsinki University of Technology, the optimal temperature for office productivity is between 70 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 22 degrees Celcius). Every additional degree results in reduced performance, with a 9 percent decrease in overall productivity at 86 degrees (90 degrees Celcius). Presumably, colder temperatures are also worse.
Obviously not everyone has the same optimal working temperature, and maintaining a 70-72 F range can be expensive during hot summer months, but use it as a guideline. Aim for a temperature that’s slightly colder than “comfortable.”
10. Drop and Give Me 10
According to a 2008 study by a researcher at the University of Bristol, exercising during the workday improves performance and mood for the rest of the day. On days without exercise, performance and mood may not change but “sense of calm” decreases over time.
Exercise-related improvements include better time management, better mental sharpness, more tolerance of self, and more forgiving attitudes toward colleagues.
So if you feel a slump coming on during the workday, or if you feel a mental haze and lack of motivation, then a few minutes of physical activity may help. Check out these exercises you can do at your desk, and supplement them with these stretches for office workers.
How Do You Renew Work Productivity?
These tips and tricks may help boost motivation and productivity in the short run, but don’t look to them as permanent solutions. You may have drains in your life that are weighing you down and sapping your energy. If so, you have to tackle the root issue, whatever it may be.
A few more tips and tricks that may prove useful:
- Optimize your workstation! Improper chair height, desk height, distance to monitor, and ambient lighting can all be sources of fatigue.
- Stop multitasking! Due to how our brains work, we’re actually more productive when we focus 100 percent on one task at a time.
- Pick up new productivity techniques! Even if you know all of the mainstream ones, there are still more you can try. Have you heard of the Flowtime or Stoplight methods?
How often do you feel slumps at work? What do you do to renew your motivation and productivity? Got any tips for us? Let us know in the comments!
Image Credit: IgorVetushko/Depositphotos