September 24, 2010

How Your Surroundings Affect Your Output

BY John Paul Narowski IN Productivity One Comment

While it seems to be common sense that your environment has a huge effect on your productivity, the modern workplace is virtually designed to cause distraction and chaos.

Somewhere along the line, taking on too many activities at once and not giving your full attention to any of them became something you put on your resume. Being a multitasker may seem like a great thing to aspire to, but in the end it’s just a way to make yourself busy instead of efficient.

If you want to be truly productive, then you need to take a look at your surroundings, find the productivity vampires that stalk you and make the proper adjustments. Here are some of the bigger offenders:


DisorganizationThe first thing you need to address in your work environment is disorganization. Have a system for every thing that is based on logical and easy to remember standards. Knowing which of your fifteen piles of paper that purchase order in is not a system.

Having every thing you need to easily and quickly accomplish your tasks is key in being productive. Otherwise you burn time trying to track down the things you need and put a serious hurting on your efficiency. You’ll be plenty busy tracking things down, put your output will suffer.


The modern workplace is a minefield of distractions and navigating them is essential to winning the war of productivity. For those working from home the list of productivity robbers goes even deeper.

Facebook: The Ultimate DistractionYou might be ready to work like a drone on meth but once that IM pops up, your Facebook wall is written on, your cell phone rings or Bob from accounting stops by to tell you about his weekend of Fantasy Football greatness, all bets are off.

These electronic platforms, websites and devices are designed specifically to grab our attention. Something deep inside the human brain can’t deal with something unchecked or unfinished, forcing us to look. Don’t fight the way your brain works; if you can, minimize the effect of these things by turning them off or at least hiding them.

If you’re working on a excel spreadsheet have that and any other information you need open on your computer and nothing else. Turn off automatic notices and let the phone go to voicemail. Constantly stopping and starting is the worse thing you can do for your productivity.

When it comes to pestering co-workers, it can get a bit trickier. Find a way to let them know that you are busy, but that you would love to hear all about their grandson’s latest episode with the police at lunch.

You don’t want to alienate people in your office and burn bridges by being rude but you also can’t let people stop you from getting what you need to get done. Be polite but firm, show interest in what they are saying and just suggest a later time to talk about it.


The actual environment around you can have a huge affect on how well you perform as well. If you have ever worked in a freezing cold office, you know exactly what I am talking about. Make sure the temperature is comfortable for you as much as you can.

In large offices individuals often don’t get to control the thermostat. Beat the uncomfortable temps by wearing layers, bringing in a space heater or small fan or rally the troops and petition the boss to ease up on the AC.

You’re always going to have distractions and other speed bumps on the road to true productivity. Learning to master your environment is the only way you’re going to break free from the cult of multitasking. Manage to do this and you will see huge rewards in your output.

I’ve been hacking at various business ideas since I was 16. I’m a full stack developer and love crafting user experiences. I’ve been nose deep in code since I put the legos down, and built several successful businesses in the process. I’ve lost some hair, gained some experience and throughly enjoyed the journey.

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