I just got back from a run/walk/jog thingy I do about three times a week. It feels good to get the blood flowing and since I have a track about a quarter mile from my home office, I have no excuse to not do it (although I found I am crafty at making up excuses. . . like going to my normal office where it would be very awkward to throw on a pair of shorts and run around the parking lot).
After I washed up, I came back to my desk to get back to work. What was I doing? Oh yeah, the proposal. I think there was an email about that. Email?!?! Hey my buddy from college just wrote. Oh geez, look at the time, I’ve got to work on that. . . what was it? Email. No wait, proposal. Talk about proposal, look at that stack of papers I need to go through. Wait a second, I haven’t swung the little steel ball on the office desk clacking balls toy in about 2 minutes. I’ve got to do that.
Does this sound a little like your own unproductive experience at your desk? Don’t blame yourself. Blame your desk.
1. Constant Sitting – Long periods of inactivity (except for sleep) are not good for your health or your attentiveness. Sitting and staring at a computer with the only activity being the click and clack of the keyboard drains your mental sharpness. The fix? Take regular breaks (every 50 minutes or so) and get active – go for a quick 10 minute walk, or do push-ups and sit-ups.
2. Clock Distraction – Regular peaks at the clock trigger thoughts of overwhelm, regularly. The feeling of overwhelm manifests in distraction and inefficiency. If you want to be productive you need to focus on one thing at a time (contrary to popular belief, people cannot multi-task). The fix? Put the clock out of line of site. Use alarms on your computer or phone app to ring at appointment times.
3. Piled Up Papers – Similar to the clock distraction, a pile of papers on your desk is a constant reminder of everything else you need to do. The fix? Create a single sheet to do list and file all the piled up paperwork on your desk into a cabinet.
4. Desk Toys – You know that cool desk toy your spouse gave you as a gift? It is a really nice way to get those mindless breaks you need from work. The problem is it is a major distraction at all times, not just when you need it. That little toy is causing you to take “breaks” way too frequently to be productive. The fix? Keep the desk toy stored away in a cabinet or if you want to display it, put it on a shelf out of reach.
The ultimate fix just might be a small standing desk sized for your computer and a piece of paper and nothing else. But if you are not ready for that extreme, making these changes to your current desk is a good starting point.