Hack Your Workspace for Sustained Productivity

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Hack Your Workspace for Sustained Productivity

As an entrepreneur or business owner, you're well aware of the blood, sweat, and tears that go into building something from the ground up. The endless hours of meticulous planning and execution, those back-to-back all-nighters, and the unwavering focus and drive it takes to succeed.

You know what's essential for all that? A well-organized and controlled workspace.

I've been riding this rollercoaster called business for quite a while now, and trust me, my work hours weren't always as productive as they are today. It's honestly a bit daunting to think about the time I lost because I couldn't concentrate.

But you know what? It wasn't some earth-shattering discovery or motivational book that turned things around for me. It was a bunch of small, everyday life hacks that I gradually applied to different aspects of my life, like my sleep patterns, work habits, time management, health, and fitness - and of course, my physical surroundings.

That's what I'm thrilled to share with you today. Can you imagine that clearing up your desk can make a world of difference in your productivity? Or that making a few ergonomic tweaks can give you an energy boost?

Let's explore some of my go-to workspace hacks that have helped me achieve more consistent productivity. (Get ready to be surprised!)

1. Pay Attention To Your Eye Line

I listened to an incredible podcast episode recently by the one and only Dr. Andrew Huberman. If you've never listened to or read anything from this brilliant mind, now's the time; I highly recommend that you go check out his podcast, website, and YouTube channel. I'm a huge fan. 

During the episode, Huberman mentions an interesting function of the eye. Different neurons are fired in our brains depending on the direction we move our eye line. 

If we look upward, for instance, we're going to experience feelings of alertness. Looking down activates the opposite – feelings of calm and sleep. You can use this understanding to biohack your workspace. 

Huberman suggests that looking just slightly above your usual straight-ahead eye line triggers optimal alertness. For me personally, I've leveraged this by placing my monitors just above eyeline; I'm automatically prompted to look slightly upward and be more alert as a result. 

2. Choose Your Space

Have you ever heard of the Cathedral Effect? It's one of the coolest concepts I've come across in recent years. 

The idea is simple: if you want to be productive in creative endeavors, you should ideally be sitting under a high 'cathedral' ceiling. 

Acclaimed creative architect Donald Rattner writes that "...our perception of mental space moves in parallel with our perception of physical space." When we're under a tall ceiling, it's as though our mind gets drawn upward – our eyes, our emotions, our aspirations, and our ambitions. Creativity flows freely. 

That's why you'll notice such tall ceilings in coworking spaces, churches, and even libraries. 

Now I'm not suggesting you go out and buy a cathedral ceiling for your home office – but if you have the option to choose where to work, it's worth considering the psychological effects of different spaces. Low ceilings, in fact, are excellent for technical and detail-oriented work. All your senses focus in on the task at hand. 

Experiment with working in different parts of your home; you might just find that your new environment sparks something different in you, or works more cohesively with your specific tasks.

3. Refine Your Tech

I love Apple products – I really do. They're of exceptional quality, and I rarely (if ever) encounter issues with a Mac. But when it comes to ergonomics? Laptops in general have a lot to answer for. 

Think about it:

  • Laptops sit almost flush with your desk, meaning you're far more prone to leaning your wrists on the desk edge. That's a surefire way to get stuck with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). 

  • There's no elevation – a lot of the time, you're looking downward at the screen, which strains both your neck and eye muscles. As we discussed before, looking down makes you sleepy; not ideal for productivity. 

  • The trackpad has absolutely zero ergonomic value. Your palm isn't supported at all. 

  • The keyboard has limited tactile feedback. (It's not a huge issue – just a bit sad!)

If you're still struggling along with a low screen, flat keyboard, and feeble trackpad, something needs to change. And contrary to what you might have been told, it doesn't need to cost an arm and a leg.

Unless you're prepared to buy a monitor with a stand, there are other ways to elevate your laptop screen. You can get a laptop stand for under $20 that perfectly lifts your laptop to eye line height. It'll keep you alert and ensure those neck muscles aren't being over-extended. 

An ergonomic mouse might set you back around $40 – and believe me, it's worth it. You'd be surprised at just how much effort it takes to maneuver a trackpad. Ergonomic mice support the natural curvature of your hand so you hardly need to exert at all. 

Finally, you'll benefit from a mechanical keyboard; it's a science-backed fact that mechanical keyboards both boost productivity and reduce the occurrence of CTS. (Plus, they're incredibly satisfying to type with). Pair it with a cushioned palm rest, and you're firing on all cylinders. 

4. Become A Background Noise DJ

We tend to think of our workspace as just the physical pieces – a desk, a chair, a computer, a mouse. Perhaps a second screen. But what about the environment? And more specifically, the noise you're surrounded by?

For a long time, it was assumed that total silence works best in terms of productivity. Plenty of research has been conducted since then; we now understand that different frequencies are better for different tasks.

For example:

  • White, pink, and brown noise is an excellent accompaniment to shorter bursts of energy. 

  • Binaural beats are better for writing and other cognitive tasks that require focus. 

  • Ambient music is great for prolonged periods of work – it keeps your mind engaged without distracting you from the task at hand.

YouTube is your go-to source for background music and ambient noise. There are plenty of creators releasing hours upon hours of content – all free. With a little trial and error, you'll soon find the perfect soundscape to accompany your work.

Don't be afraid to experiment. The research is there, but still, we're all unique; our minds don't follow strict rules, and our preferences often differ. You might find pink noise repulsive or binaural beats sleep-inducing. Test the waters to find what works best for you. 

5. Free Your Setup of Friction

What I've found in my many hours of sitting at a desk is that – alongside the biohacking – productivity is about making your work frictionless. 

For instance: do you have to switch all of your cords in and out due to a lack of power points? Every time you have to swap your laptop charger out for a phone charger or lamp, you're breaking focus. 

What about the mess – do you let clutter build and forget to tidy up at the end of the day? The next day, you'll have to move the mess before starting work. More friction. 

And what about your charging etiquette? Do you make sure everything's plugged in before going to bed? If you're waiting for a laptop or keyboard to charge up in the morning, you place even more resistance between yourself and the workday ahead. 

It's work critically looking at your setup to see what could be altered. I've added some surge-protected powerboards to my wall, and it makes cord management much easier. I've also got a bin right next to my desk so that mess doesn't need to build up. 

Another thing to think about is the emotional friction getting in your way. Do you actually enjoy the space you're working in? Could you make it feel more lively with some plants or artwork? I've found that a few small touches can make my workspace feel more inviting and reduce the amount of mental resistance I have to face each day. 

Friction adds up quickly, and it's the enemy of productivity – but free your setup of as much resistance as possible, and you'll be surprised by how much easier work becomes.

Wrap Up

These tips should help you optimize your workspace for productivity. Remember: it's about more than what’s physically in front of you – background noise and emotional resistance are all factors that need to be considered too. 

A few small tweaks here and there can make a huge difference. You don't need to do a complete overhaul, and you certainly don't need to spend thousands on a new setup. See how small changes can compound to make a big impact, and you'll soon be working smarter – not harder.

Thanks for reading, as always!

If you enjoyed this article, I’d love to hear from you. 

Reply to this email or tweet at me @ScottDClary and I'll do my best to get back to everyone!


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