A key way to diminish your overwhelm is to design a productive work environment. This is actually easier than you might think. The truth is, most professionals:

  • get a job
  • get an office or other designated workspace
  • leave the workspace as it was for the previous person or as the people from buildings & grounds set it up
  • start working

Few professionals think deliberately and mindfully about what a productive work environment would look (and feel) like for them. Thus, they go through their work lives tolerating small and large annoyances, set-ups, and issues that detract from their overall productivity.

Although it seems kind of crazy (and I imagine your experience isn’t much different from mine), no one ever talked to me about designing a productive work environment when I was a classroom teacher, university professor, or administrator. It was never mentioned because no one I worked with had ever considered the idea either! It was only when I began taking classes to become a coach and also in my training to be a professional organizer that I started to learn about this concept.

“Your workspace is a tool, not a toolbox.” — Steve Prentice in Cool Time

Look around your workspace… Is it a tool or a toolbox? If it’s the former, congratulate yourself and see if it could be improved. If it’s the latter, then be sure to read the rest of the suggestions in this article.

Design? I Get to Choose?!

First, determine which one of these words captures what it is that you would like to do as far as reconceptualizing your work environment:

  • design
  • create
  • make
  • plan
  • specify
  • invent
  • sketch
  • conceptualize
  • cerebrate

Let’s just look at that last word (and I love it that I have smart readers). According to http://www.visualthesaurus.com/, cerebrate means “use or exercise the mind or one’s power of reason in order to make inferences, decisions, or arrive at a solution or judgments.” Hmmm… So that’s what you need to do as far as your productive work environment goes. Cerebrate!

Ask yourself this question as you begin to cerebrate (or whichever other word you chose) about designing your work environment:

“Is this the kind of workspace where someone who is highly productive and highly successful would work?”

If the answer is “no,” then begin to think about what a space would be like where the answer is “yes!” To get some ideas, take a look at others’ workspaces that are ones that clearly demonstrate the productivity and professionalism of the people who work there.

Ideas to Consider in Your Design (or Your Cerebrating)

As you are determining your design, consider all these categories:

  • sounds
  • smells
  • locations
  • placement
  • clutter
  • tools

These aren’t the only categories that you may need to think about during your re-design. It depends on you and your job. The idea is that you need to have a workspace the supports your work rather than detracting from it.

Having an unproductive work environment increases your feelings of overwhelm. Designing - and then implementing your design for - a productive work environment helps you be ‘just whelmed.’ That’s the goal, right?!

A Gentle Suggestion (or Seven)

Step by step, do the following (please):

  1. Walk out of your work space.
  2. Breathe deeply and clear your head.
  3. Walk back in as if you had never been in this space before.
  4. What thoughts and emotions come to you?
  5. Sit down and write those down.
  6. Next to any of those thoughts and emotions that are NOT what you want when you walk into your workspace, write the ones that you DO want.
  7. Now, get about the business of reconceptualizing your workspace so that you’ve designed a productive work environment.

You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes everyday.

Get a Plan! Guide - Designing a Productive Environment by Meggin McIntosh, PhD

And if you think you would like additional strategies and practical tips, you are invited to access the Get a Plan! Guide® for Designing a Productive Environment.

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