A disorganized, cluttered and impersonal workspace can make the workday feel much longer. And things like desk organization can have a real impact on productivity: The average person loses an hour to searches for misplaced files or other items, according to professional organizer Lisa Zaslow.
A few small accessories on your desk can do wonders for employee productivity and general outlook. Here are six must-have products, and ideas for how to use them.
When used correctly, sticky notes can be an amazing productivity tool. The act of writing things down boosts our memory, according to the Association for Psychological Science, and the small size of a traditional sticky note forces you to be as pithy as possible. The "sticky" factor lets you put them right where they're needed — a note on your laptop to remember talking points for your next meeting, for example.
Remember: Sticky notes work best in moderation. When your monitor is covered in notes, they lose their effectiveness.
Indoor plants can help prevent fatigue, increase workers' positive perceptions about their workplace, and even provide a boost in productivity, according to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. Find a nice bamboo or philodendron — either of which can comfortably fit on a desk — and get more done.
An old-fashioned planner is a must-have, even if you use a digital calendar to schedule appointments. The planner can be a great repository for useful extra notes or context on your to-do list. You get the memory boost of writing things down with ink and paper, as well as the ability to remind yourself of important details at a glance. Keep it open on your desk to jot down ideas and possibilities as they occur to you.
Color coding your schedule or to-do list can provide a quick visual shorthand to better communicate the kinds of tasks you need to do. For example, use yellow to highlight meetings, blue for correspondence and green for money-generating activities. Color coding can help you group together similar items that can be tackled in one sitting, such as phone calls to make or errands to run.
When you're stressed, your body tenses up. If you're not able to get away from your desk to take a walk — for instance, you're on long conference call, you're in the middle of an important task, or you simply don't have time — a stress ball can help. The act of squeezing and releasing the ball helps you release tension and nervous energy. Keep one in a drawer to reach for whenever you're feeling tense.
Be sure to include a picture on your desk that reminds you why you work so hard. A cherished photo of your loved ones can lift your mood, or a framed postcard from a favorite trip could motivate you to work for the vacation. Like sticky notes, use these items sparingly. Too much clutter can end up as a distraction.
Environmental factors can have a big impact on employee productivity. Take a second look at your workspace and ask yourself whether it could be improved. These changes don't cost a lot, and can make a real difference in how you feel at work.