Environment Has Huge Impact on Happiness and Productivity

home officeYour environment is a crucial piece to increasing productivity. Whether it’s in a traditional office, a home office or even an area used for “home” projects (kitchen, garage, workroom, etc.) it needs to support your particular requirements. That is not being indulgent or selfish, that is wise and knowing what will help you be happiest and perform your best. the conditions with which you surround yourself have a huge impact. Simple changes can have big pay-offs.

Do you have:

  • Good equipment – comfortable chair, good desk or table, quality tools(pens, computer, knives, etc.)
  • Sufficient lighting – natural and/or artificial
  • Adequate airflow & temperature – window, ventilation, heat, air-conditioning or fan
  • Appropriate atmosphere – music, scents and decor that energize and help focus you

fishTake into consideration your work style, physical preferences and personality. I prefer to work alone, at home, in a well lit, warm room, surrounded by plants, pets and pictures. You may flourish in the midst of energy and movement. You may prefer a more sparse atmosphere that doesn’t remind you of home.

You decide.

And feel free to experiment. Try something different until it feels right.

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Underpromise and Overdeliver – Fundamental Rule

Under-promise and Over-deliver.

This is one of the fundamental rules for business success, but it’s also a valuable guideline in life. Whether you are an employee, business owner, parent or volunteering your time; this strategy is almost always a good one to keep in mind. When you commit yourself to a deadline, try to figure in time for the unexpected and give yourself a cushion.

First, don’t over commit.

Second, be realistic, conservative even in time estimations.

Third, give something of extra value if you can.

Your managers, clients, children or organization will be thrilled when you come through earlier, better or cheaper!

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Annoyance Triggers

angry finger pointing

Inner nag

What are your “annoyance triggers?” What are the little things that bother you on a day-to-day basis? Do loud people or noisy places drive you nuts? People talking on cell phones in restaurants, when your inbox is full again, when people drive too slow or park their cars incorrectly? Is it the rudeness that abounds in today’s society or maybe those annoying soliciting phone calls that hang up just after the answering machine picks up? We all have them and they seem quite rational to us….

We don’t have to allow these minor stressors to affect us in this way. The first step is just to notice them, label them, and assess them if you will. Then take a moment to ask yourself if it is really the “thing” that annoys you or your reaction to it? If you have no control over it, then why do you give it so much power to dictate your mood? The trick is to not allow outside people or situations to sap your peace of the moment.

Life is filled with petty little annoyances. At work, at home, on the street, even with the people closest to us. When you catch yourself becoming annoyed try to re-frame the situation rather than allowing it to interfere with your attention and focus, whether it be on work, your family or enjoying the world around you.

When someone is rude to you, instead of getting irritated, try feeling compassion for them because they are probably unhappy and miserable. When you get those series of tele-marketer hang ups on your voice mail, be glad that’s not your job!

One of the keys to a happy, productive and peaceful life is to not allow other people or situations control your attitude and attention. Breathe and let it go.

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Make Use of “Lost Time”

Do you know an easy way to gain more time from your week?

Identify “lost time” throughout your week and figure out a better way to make use of it.

What do I mean by “lost time?”

Time spent waiting at children’s activities, in waiting rooms, on your commute to work all qualify. Your schedule may be different, but if you look closely you will be able to find these little snippets of time that have been up until now relatively unproductive. Even an hour per week adds up to an extra two days per year of useful time. I once heard of a famous author who wrote her entire novel while waiting at her child’s swimming lessons each week!

Think about what you could do during those times. Keep a list or an idea in your mind so that when the opportunity strikes you will be ready. For instance, in my case I could write a blog post while waiting at drum lessons, return calls while cooling my heels at horseback riding, read research in the waiting room or listen to a podcast or recorded call while sitting in traffic.

I would be remiss if I didn’t note here that you need to determine the appropriateness of the work. The whole premise of my philosophy is to encourage work and life harmony, not overworking. If you are at your son’s baseball game, you should be watching your son. That is his time, but perhaps doing work while waiting at practice is acceptable. If you really enjoy chatting with the other parents at dance lessons and that is quality time with your friends, then by all means continue, but if it is just time spent gossiping, you’re better off doing something productive.

In your quest to towards a more efficient and meaningful use of my time in the simplest way possible, let’s see what time you can identify and re-allocate from wasted time to productive time.

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Golden Rules of Productivity


We are, most of us at least, creatures of habit and structure. We thrive when there are rules and guidelines to assist us through the veritable maze of life and work processes. Why should productivity be any different? Learning or developing any routine or program can be frustrating and confusing. If you are feeling overwhelmed, don’t let those feelings discourage you from your quest for higher personal and professional efficiency. You will not master every technique for organization or effectiveness; you should not even try. I can hear the type A’s protesting out there – mostly because I am one of them – but if you strive for perfection, you will inevitably come away disappointed.  Seek instead; measurable improvement over time and your pay-off will be less stress, greater success and more time to enjoy your life.

So, with that in mind, I have assembled a list of the most crucial rules that will ensure your success in becoming more productive over time. They are a combination of strategies gathered by researching and studying highly successful productive professionals, juggling mothers and also what I have personally found works for me.

Productivity Golden Rules

  1. One Change at a time – you get the best results when you truly focus on one change at a time.
  2. Know Your Why – What is the purpose behind your goals or work?
  3. Clarify your objectives.
  4. Plan your day, every day.
  5. Energy management – Know your peak productivity cycle.
  6. Set boundaries – Protect your time and space.
  7. Play to Your Strengths – Delegate or automate the rest.
  8. Don’t overthink, don’t procrastinate, and just do it.
  9. Invest in yourself – Learn, grow, improve your skills.
  10. Focus, Focus, Focus!

For a more in depth discussion on these productivity rules, read their individual posts, where we describe them in further detail.

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