Tag Archives: at your desk

Office Design Tricks to Up Your Productivity Levels

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The place you choose to work makes such a big difference to your productivity levels. Thankfully, if you work from home, you have maximum creative control to design your work-space exactly as you see fit. (Score!) In this post, I’m gonna lay out some aspects of home office design that will make your home work-space a hive of productivity. Many of these changes are simple and don’t require a huge investment, while others may take a little more time and expense. Find the fixes that work best for your working flow and budget…

Light the Way

Office lighting can make such a big difference when it comes to your productivity. Bad lighting can lead to headaches, fatigue, eye strain, and tiredness. Conversely, natural light can play a big role in boosting your mood. So consider positioning your desk nearby a window where it is going to attract as much sunlight as possible. Rather than having one main overhead source of lighting, having a lamp or two allows you to adjust the brightness as necessary.

Alabaster Mini Orb Lamp // Globe String Lights // Petite Perla Chandelier

Ergonomically Check Your Chair and Desk

If the position of your chair and desk ends up leading to neck and back pain, this is inevitably going to impact your productivity levels. There are a couple of quick ergonomic checks which are easy to perform. First of all, the top of your computer screen should be around eye-level. Your feet should either be able to rest comfortably on a foot rest or on the floor. Make sure that your chair is slightly reclined to minimize lower back pain. Investing in a good-quality chair is one of the best purchases that you can make for your office.

Mesh Desk Chair // Gaiam Balance Ball Chair // Adjustable Foot Rest

Sights, Smells and Sounds

Your senses all come into play when you are creating a comfortable office space. Starting off with what you’ll spend the day looking at — the room color. Studies have shown that the color blue helps with productivity. But whatever you choose, make sure it’s a shade which isn’t too harsh on the eyes. You can also hang some pictures to give yourself something fun (and maybe motivational) to look at during the day.

Interior Paint in Blue Bayou // Calming Art Print // Ayo Mirror

You may never have thought much about the smell of your office, but the right scents can actually help to focus your mind and boost your mood. Fresh flowers are a great way to provide a scent in a natural way. It is worth going for some which you can easily smell such as Alii Hawaiian Tropical flowers. Another option is to use candles or essential oils. Otherwise, you could always try simmering a few herbs and spices in the kitchen to fill your whole house with pleasant smells.

Hawaiian Flowers // Stress Relief Candle // Stone Essential Oil Holder

The type of noise which works best for your productivity levels varies from person to person. Some people prefer complete silence. In which case, it is worth looking into soundproofing options in the room. Others like to have some background music, so it check out wireless speakers so you can cut back on the need for wires criss-crossing around the room.

Sound Proof Panels // Noise Cancelling Headphones // Wireless Speaker

Clutter Clearing

While you may create a lot of clutter in the creative process, you should make it a habit to store away the things that you need and throw everything else away. Mess is generally not helpful when it comes to productivity levels. Make sure that you have enough storage systems to contain everything comfortably. And don’t forget your digital clutter as well. The best way I’ve found of keeping on top of your clutter (actual AND digital) in a home office is to schedule time each week to organize. Pick a day and time and jot it down in your diary weekly. You’ll likely just need a half hour or so each week to go through papers, computer files, etc and get it all sorted. Consistency is key!

Poppin 3-Drawer File Cabinet // Paper Organizers // Wire Wall Grid

Bring in Nature

There are plenty of ways that you can bring nature into your indoor office space. We already talked about fresh flowers, but house plants are also a great option. They will last longer and are usually straightforward to maintain. Open the window on a regular basis to allow fresh air into your office space. If you can’t see anything natural outside, the next best thing is to put up some “nature pictures” – think: a picture of you and a loved on a recent hike in a pretty frame on your desk or a painting of the sea!

5 x 7 Frame // Gradient Cement Planter // Mid-Century Turquoise Planters 

Achieve an Optimum Temperature Balance

Achieving the right temperature balance is one of the best ways of boosting your productivity levels. Studies have shown that people tend to work better when it is a little warmer inside, but you don’t want to make it SO warm so that you feel drowsy. A smart thermostat will give you maximum control over the temperature in your office. And you can always bring in some extra heaters or fans when you feel like you need to adjust the temperature up or down.

Nest Thermostat // Urbanjet Desk Fan // Portable Radiator

As you can see, there’s a lot to think about when it comes to creating a work-space that provides maximum productivity levels. Essentially, you need to create an environment which works best for you. No two people work in the same way, so it is important to learn as much as you can about your own working habits. Good luck!

Do you work from home? An office? What changes have you made to your working space to increase productivity? 

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5 Tips for Writing Killer Emails

5 tips for writing killer emails

There’s a fair few things I’ve learned over the years out in the rough real world. Nobody seems to have a working knowledge of basic traffic laws the moment they have a license in hand. After a certain age, going without specific foods can be considered a hobby. And, generally speaking, people are really bad at writing emails. Like, painfully bad. Over the years, I’ve witnessed some doozies. From over zealous “Reply All” users to simple task management turning into a tome rivaling Moby Dick. Not to mention the spelling errors, grammatical nightmares, and misinformation. Thinking this would be a fairly easy way to stand out at any job, I took it upon myself a few years back to take email writing seriously. Here’s the method to my madness…

1. Make the subject line work for the reader. I would wager a guess that most email recipients treat their inboxes pretty similarly. After receiving an email you either deal with it’s contents immediately OR you read/skim and let it hang out in your inbox until the stars align and you feel like responding and/or performing the tasks requested therein. I would say most of us treat our incoming messages as a sort of “To Do” list. So, keep this in mind when typing that dreaded subject line. If an email titled Hey there is hanging out in your boss’ inbox, chances are every time they glance over the days messages they won’t associate a response or action with this item. However, a message called Mockups needed for next step will alert them to what you are after AND that it’s time sensitive.

These more specific subject lines will also come in handy if the reader sorts their messages into folders after responding/completing. They will be super easy to locate after the fact!

There may be instances where you need to send a cold email. Subject lines are still important for these first impression correspondences! Here are a few possibilities I’ve found successful…

a. Question concerning [name of their company/business/blog/etc]

b. Trying to connect

c. Quick request

d. Introduction: [Your Name and Company]

2. Keep the message organized, concise, and free from errors. One of the first things we learn about writing is that any good piece should have a beginning, middle, and end. So, why does this go out the window when we log in to Gmail? There are certainly instances where it’s appropriate to shoot off a quick sentence but the majority of the time, your emails should consist of three parts…

BeginningThis is where you provide a greeting and offer some pleasantries. I know you may think this step is a waste of your time but offering a quick “It was so good to see you at the softball game last weekend,” is a great reminder to your reader that you’re a human and not just an annoying pop-up that’s going to add a bullet to their “To do” list. We’re way more likely to extend favors gladly to a friendly, ACTUAL person. This is also where you can set up the nature of your email and provide some context.

MiddleThe real point to your message comes here. Make sure, no matter the nature, that you’re providing your recipient with all the information they are going to need to respond, carry out a task, or follow through with a favor. If the message is just a decision provide ample reasoning, if it’s informational provide plenty of context.

End Here’s where you can clarify next steps and any action items. Provide any important dates or deadlines. Finish everything off with a bit of thanks and, of course, a signature.

Now, don’t get it twisted. Just because your email has three parts doesn’t mean it needs to be super long. As with subject lines, put yourself in the reader’s shoes. Have you ever opened a particularly lengthy email and felt immediately annoyed, even before you started reading? Don’t be that guy. Just get to the point. And then, before you hit send, for the love of GOD read what you’ve written. It will only take a few seconds and you’ll save yourself the embarrassment of any errors.

3. Be conspicuous. Beating around the bush is annoying. Don’t leave it to the person opening up your email to figure out what it is you want or why you need their help. If you’re sending a cold email because you want to pick the brain’s of someone successful in your dream field, tell them why you admire them! Don’t be shy with flattery. They won’t know why the meeting is important to you unless you tell them!! If you’re sending a request for a favor or asking for anything at ALL….just come right out and ask for it. Of course there are times when asking for someone’s help (or money or expertise) can be nerve wracking. But the VERY worst that can happen is they’ll say no. (And then you can move on. And ask the next person.)

britney emails

4. Include a clear timeline. Dates, times, deadlines, and time-frames are important pieces of info. Your hope is that they’ll get added to the reader’s diary, planner or Google calendar. Double check for accuracy and set them apart where need be. Safeguard yourself against email skimmers and BOLD if you feel it necessary. There’s no shame in the bold game, my friends. We’re visual people. And it’s definitely no more obnoxious than your co-worker who includes smiley emojis after every sentence.

5. Know when to respond. Finally, for the sanity of all you work with, think twice before responding. If you find yourself in the midst of a mass email which turns into an email THREAD, ask yourself who needs to actually READ your response. Let’s turn to an example. If you, and your entire company, receive an email from a co-worker about an upcoming meeting, and you want to respond–

“Thanks for organizing this meeting!”

Only the original sender needs to read that message. If you want to respond–

“I’ll be administering a short survey at this meeting so please come prepared to answer a few questions on staff communication practices.”

Go ahead…you can hit REPLY ALL! BUT if you want to write the following to your beloved work bestie–

“These meetings are the literal worst!!!! What a waste of time!!!! I HATE THIS JOB!”

You better TRIPLE check that “Send To” box.

Now, enjoy this hilarious video about what our workplace emails would look like if they were, in fact, real life. Let’s try to do better, shall we?

What tips do YOU have for professional emails? What irks you the most? Would you be more likely to respond to or help a person who followed the guidelines above? Let me know in the comments below!