Ernest Hemingway had a desk where he did nothing but write. Every day, he wrote in the same place with the same tools in the exact same way.Now that we are always on our computers, we don't really notice our physical environment anymore. But our unconscious habitual mind is constantly aware of our surroundings. It uses cues and triggers like sound, senses, and location to automate habitual thoughts, behaviors, and workflows.You can use these triggers to your advantage.
3 Ways to Use Your Physical Environment to Boost Your Productivity
Designate work-only zones.
- It’s harder to do a particular task if you anchor a place in multiple kinds of work, like checking emails or managing projects. If you do too many things in bed, you’ll have trouble falling asleep at night.
- Designating work-only zones improves your focus.
- Pick different places for different kinds of work.
- Experimentation is crucial.
- If you need to brainstorm, try going outside.
- To improve your focus and attention on a specific task, be intentional about where you want to do it AND don’t do anything else in that place.
Set the right soundtrack.
- Sound is a part of our physical environment that we’re not often aware of.
- Audio cues are easy to insert with music.
- Picking a playlist or song and repeating it as you do a task will create less resistance to that task as soon as the first song plays.
- If you’re writing emails, listen to the “Intense Studying” playlist on Spotify.
- If you want to be creative, listen to the playlist “Creativity Boost” on Spotify.
- The music itself doesn’t matter as long as you keep it routine and specific so it pulls you forward.
- Ryan Holiday recommends listening to music you don’t like.
Give your devices specific tasks.
- Our brains don’t know the difference between the real world and the digital world. This is why you when you read a mean email, it feels like that person said those words to your face.
- Use different devices to support different modes of work to increase your focus.
- Separate your personal and work devices.
- When you open up your work devices, you’ll automatically focus.
- When you open up your personal devices, you’ll automatically relax.
- Don’t watch videos for leisure on your work computer.
- Consider using your tablet for entertainment purposes only.