37 Productivity tips you can do today that will make your work area more conducive to happy, productive, focused work sessions.
(The Productivity Tips Ebook is free and available in .PDF format at the end of this article. Scroll to the end to get your copy)
When I was building my company, 99% of the work was done sat at a computer.
The business plan, financial forecasts, market research, supplement formulations.
The copywriting for the website, the website design, the recruiting of staff, the initial PR pieces and blogs, the blah blah blah…
All of which I did in my home office staring blurry-eyed at LCD screens for 16 – 18 hours a day.
Working from home or an office… It is often lonely, fatiguing, and highly unproductive.
The good news is how we stage our working environment can easily change that.
Being in the Brain Enhancement and Human Performance industries, I hear from high-performance individuals daily who are all looking to get any advantage they can…
Yet so few give thought to their workspace – and how it may be affecting their productivity.
Due to my immense ADHD issue, I have spent the past 4 years trying to make my own working environment and setup as conducive to productivity, creativity, and motivation to work for long periods, as I can.
My original desk set-up was a chore to work at.
My current setups (work and home) are both still a work in progress, but getting there.
I’ve tested different ergonomic setups, monitor heights, lighting and decoration.
Apps to stay organized, and even tested supplements and vitamin enriched eye drops!
…All designed to help me squeeze as many more productive minutes out of the day as I could.
It’s no secret that work spaces featuring plants, decoration, pictures, and other distractions have been shown to increase productivity and happiness in workers by up to 40%.
Who would have thought that degree was less to do with your smarts and hard work, and more to do with Rocky the cactus sat on your desk?!
It doesn’t take much to transfer the average work pen (think cattle) into a productive environment geared to make you thrive.
You don’t need to do all the points on this list… And certainly not at once.
Instead choose a few points to implement at a time, and take it from there.
Remember that even a little action beats good intention all day long.
Have fun, but please be careful and don’t burn yourself out… We naturally tire to prevent potential long term issues.
37. Cable Management – Don’t Waste Time Searching For Cables
One very time-consuming habit I found I had developed was a refusal to keep all my cables, phone chargers, and audio/headphone leads in one place.
When I was doing a lot of video and photo work, I was finding myself getting up every 5 minutes for another cable, or reaching under the desk and fumbling around in the dark trying to find the right plug!
All of which would contribute to breaking my concentration and focus on the task I was working on… Especially if the cable I needed was located near the fridge!
Finally, I took the advice of a good friend and minimized the distraction by purchasing 6 round adhesive cable tidies.
There’s double sided sticky tape for attaching to your desk on one side, and a grove on the other for the cable to rest in.
My life changed. I’d be lost without these now.
Every single cable you’ll ever need should be within reaching distance on your desk (ideally with the other end of the cable already connected to your computer/laptop/USB hub).
On a budget? Use bulldog clips instead, or make your own using adhesive putty.
A pack of six can be purchased from Amazon, Ebay, or most stationary/office supply shops.
Cost: Expect to pay around $3-5 for six.
Time to set up: 5 minutes to place the clips/cable tidies and install your commonly needed cables.
Productivity Score: Low cost, handy, and you can make your own: 7/10
36. Boost Memory By 36% By Chewing Sugar Free Gum!
It’s easy to graze (the bro-scientific name for snacking all day) when working from home, and even when just confined to a desk.
Unless you are snacking on cucumber sticks, chances are you’re adding inches to your waistline like I did, and you’ll be confusing your metabolism as to when it’s really time to kick in.
Keeping a tub of sugar free gum on your desk won’t just help stop the frequent fridge trips to snack, but chewing gum has shown to boost productivity along with working, and long-term memory too.
The University of Northumbria found that in test groups of 75 adults, the group that sat challenges while chewing gum did 36% better on word recall tasks.
A large concern is that this offers students a potential advantage should they choose to chew gum while studying, and/or during exams.
The improvement in memory function is likely due to increased blood flow and oxygen to the brain, a result of chewing (which increases heart rate by 3bpm on average).
Scientists and Psychologists agree that chewing a certain flavor gum while learning information may make it much easier to recall later if the same flavored gum was again chewed at time of recall.
This is because of memory association, and how we easily strengthen memories that relate to a scent.
One particular brand of gum I like is GoGo Guarana Buzz Gum by Rio Amazon.
Buzz Gum has been around since I was a child, and provides all the benefits chewing gum does, but with the addition of a nice mental energy surge due to the gum being filled with Guarana.
The Guarana alleviates mental fatigue in much the same way as Caffeine does – but with a much smoother rise, and no crash at the end.
So, do yourself a favor and have some sugar free gum to hand should you be researching.
Chewing gum won’t just stop you snacking, and prevent plaque build-up, but will possibly be making you “smarter”… At least when it comes to concentration performance.
Cost: Expect to pay around $2+ per pack.
Time to set up: None – just get to the store and grab some.
Productivity score: Based on the positive results of the studies, and the low cost, it’s got to be an 8/10
35. Create Swipe Files And Templates For Increased Productivity
Keeping various swipe files on USB drives will help give your memory a rest, will boost creativity, and make you feel like a bit of a Spy… which is nice.
I remember when I had to create an advert for the 2017 Black Friday campaign.
I had struggled the year before, suffering from a creativity draught. This year I was much more laid back…
I had saved the master files and templates from last year on an external hard drive.
All I had to do was open the older files and update them.
As it happened however, I spotted someone else’s promotion I had screenshotted some time before, which was also in my folder, and I took some inspiration from that in the end and created a new and fresher campaign.
I’ve been creating swipe files for self-development, and marketing among other topics for a few years now.
I love browsing through like a photo album when I need ideas, and am always collecting things that interest me such as new nootropic ingredients, fonts I like, and offers and promotions I think offer value.
It all goes in my files… I consider them my ideas libraries.
If you work in any kind of creative environment, have to market you and your business, or are simply forgetful/like to reference past work, I highly advise you to try it by creating folders on your computer to keep ideas, templates, and links.
I also have a swipe file with every customer service email we’ve ever sent stored there.
While I never use templates for any of my direct emails – be that to friends or clients – we do have templates for some of the more common questions we get asked as a business.
Because of these templates, any one of us can reply to a client with the correct response – by going to the swipe file and finding the relevant template.
You’d be shocked how many people buy on a Sunday morning, and then send us an immediate email asking where their tracking number is.
Keeping templates and used files vaulted away on a hard drive (you could use a cloud service if you trust companies with your data and documents) ensures my high work standard is maintained, and our team can be more productive than freehand writing some of the more common email enquiries.
I think we could all agree on sometimes wanting a few more hours in the day.
Perhaps you could free up some of your time for other priorities by creating templates for all manner of things, and storing them on your hard drive to be used whenever you need…
(And just in case, like me, you lose your master versions!)
Cost: Nothing more than your time.
Time to set up: Low. I usually swipe as I go, so I am taking ideas and screenshots most days – if I see something that inspires me.
Productivity score: In terms of productivity, having ‘scrapbooks’ full of cuttings and clippings I can later reference is priceless.
If you like to highlight sections in books, start swiping now! 8/10 based on usefulness versus cost.
34. Put In The Hours With An Ergonomic Footrest
I always turned my nose up at these ‘under the desk’ footrests.
My first memories of them were some creepy old spinster who ran accounts and payroll at my first job… She had one.
The benefits had been drilled into me over the years by “visiting” health and safety officers, and endless health initiatives set up by the company.
These benefits included correcting poor posture, taking strain off the back, and ease of movement enabling pivoting (as if you were doing DVT exercises on a long-haul flight.)
Sitting isn’t good and so anything that encourages even micro movements is welcome.
But even the simple moving of the feet would pump more blood than being sedentary.
Increasing blood flow is always a good thing for improving focus and clarity as the blood carries more oxygen to the brain.
It’s just I always felt I should start looking to buy a footrest around the same time I start to need a walking stick. I had these weird connotations about them.
Then one day I purchased an audio system for my PC and had to put the subwoofer box under my desk… Instant footrest.
I loved it.
I find my feet up on it all the time.
With the amplifier being housed in the same sub box it provides a wonderful impromptu foot warmer in the winter.
I’m sad to think how many years I’ve been missing out.
That crazy old lady in accounts wasn’t so crazy after all.
I often wonder how many other “life hack” secrets she’d have revealed had I just taken the time to talk to her.
Image and footrest by Ikea
Cost: Expect to find online and in most stores with an office/computer section from $10 upward.
Time to set up: Minimal. Next day delivery from Amazon, and chuck it under the desk. Voila!
Productivity score: I do like having my feet up. It does feel less tiresome on the back after some hours.
With my feet on the floor I can often feel the cushion cutting into the back of my legs.
It’s nice to elevate my feet slightly to ease that.
I do like it, and I am a little less fidgety. However, in terms of actual productivity, my brain usually tires before my body. 6/10
33. Make Yourself More Productive With Mood Lighting And Candles
Insane desk and lighting by Andynguy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/andynguy/8498934397
Now I must say before I start here (and for fear of lecturing), please always try to work in a naturally well lit room.
Studies have shown crazy differences in the quality of life of people who are fortunate enough to work in naturally bright offices.
46… The number of minutes more sleep per night you’ll enjoy if you work by a window (source)
15… Workers in natural light found to be 15% more creative
16… The percentage increase in learning (memory formation) of students in well lit classrooms (source)
If you do have a natural light source, but “like it dark”, then consider opening those curtains at least during the hours you work.
Sadly for some of us natural light isn’t always an option…
The title picture shows that while sometimes our setups may be placed in the corner of a room, or even a windowless basement, subtle lighting and well thought out placement can still create an ambience that won’t drive you stir crazy.
If you work in a dark room, or it’s cloudy/dark outside then use mood lighting and strategically placed lamps to create a warm and ambient environment.
I’ve never enjoyed working under those fluorescent strip lights… It always made me feel like a lizard in a vivarium.
Bright lights can often put strain on the eyes, and so I like to keep lots of low wattage lighting on and around me at night.
Bringing light to a lower level than we are used to (such as desk level instead of the normal ceiling placement) can make for an interesting and quirky room you’ll adore to be in.
This “RGB strip lighting” is all the rage these days and can be purchased very cheaply from Amazon and similar online stores.
Cost: $10 buys you a 1-meter strip of 1cm wide RGB lighting you can run around your desk edge, in your computer case, or even behind the TV if you like.
Time to setup: Likely an hour for most spaces. Moving the desk, running the lighting, hiding the wiring.
Productivity score: Nice ambient lighting – especially when working at night is essential to me… 7/10
If you aren’t a fan of ‘artificial’ lighting, then invest in some candles.
Burning the midnight oil has never been so much fun as to do it to candlelight.
32. Reach For A Musical Instrument Or The Dumbbells
Image courtesy of Friedman Design Group
I’ve found that focusing on a problem or creative issue – while focusing on something else I can do easily – can often lead to some very productive breakthroughs.
Whereas I used to pace the floor before when problem solving, I now grab my dumbbells, or my guitar.
I’ll play whatever comes out of that instrument, though paying little attention.
90% of my attention is thinking about the solution to whatever it is I may be pondering.
If I am feeling fatigued, I’ll grab the dumbbell for a little free testosterone and energy boost.
I find doing something physically strenuous while thinking, gives a really singular point of focus, compared to simply sitting with the issue.
If I sit, I can’t keep my brain still long enough… I’m bored, what’s for dinner?, who shot JFK?, my leg is numb…
But when I give my brain a second task to work on, it almost WANTS to focus on the issue being pondered.
Why would it want to focus on the pain of the heavy weights?
When I say “heavy weights” I am exaggerating. Please don’t go all C.T. Fletcher on me now.
There is some science behind the instrument claim.
Dr. Anita Collins work has discovered that not only does playing an instrument strengthen the parts of the brain we use for problem solving, but also engages more areas of the brain at once than most other activities.
This engages both hemispheres of the brain (via the Corpus Callosum) which with practice, decreases the time required to retrieve stored information and solutions to problems…
Especially “problems” of a creative nature.
A similar effect can be had from doing any activity that involves using multiple limbs and motor skills at once.
Be it kicking a ball, doing yoga, or completing a Sudoku game, try putting your focus elsewhere, while/and between problem solving and creative thinking sessions.
Cost: Assuming you have whatever you need to do your hobby, free.
Time to set up: Little to nothing.
Productivity score: I’ve been either strumming a tune, or throwing some enormous 7 lbs dumbbells around the room – while thinking – for the past 4 years.
I don’t regret my decisions and still swear it helps me think. Dr Anita’s research concurs. 8/10
31. Tired Eyes? Try Sante PC Eye Drops
When my wife comes back from her visits to Japan she always brings me back some Sante PC eye drops.
I love these as my eyes get tired and dry after about 3 hours of PC use. After just a few drops of this magical unicorn urine my eyes feel heavenly again.
Sante PC eyedrops available for $29.99 for 2 bottles, and guaranteed to wring another 2 hours use out of your eyes a day.
You squeeze 1 – 3 refreshing drops into your eyes, should you spend too much time exposed to smartphones or computer screens.
Sante PC contains vitamins to help combat blue light exposure and fatigue.
Their website states the liquid solution includes:
- “Vitamin B12 to nourish the eyes”
- “Sodium Chondroitin Sulfate for corneal protection and to sharpen focus”
- “Vitamin B6 to optimize performance and reduce inflammation”
And while no mention of why, I see there is Taurine in the formula too.
Taurine is the key “mental energy component” in a very famous Energy Drink (that may, or may not give you wings), and in NITROvit.
I can’t say I’ve run clinical trials to confirm the claims, but I can say my eyes feel great after using these drops.
You can buy them online at various places, including US suppliers via Ebay.
If you want something available in the stores, try Similasan’s Computer Eye Relief.
I can’t say I have myself as I’m stocked up on Sante PC, but if I do suffer a draught I’ll be checking out Computer Eye Relief.
Cost: $29.99 for two bottles (around 2 months supply).
Time to set up: Purchase/delivery time, and then 20 seconds – 3 times daily.
Productivity score: They recharge my eyes and have them feeling renewed and refreshed when tired.
I definitely get more out than I pay out… 8/10
30. Keep Something You Value In View
Make saving fun with this brilliant “Adventure Fund” money box from Etsy.com
While sometimes misconceived as the old 80’s power trip, I love having a $100 bill in my wallet.
For me personally it represents so many things, including the value of it… Something my younger self didn’t always appreciate.
One of my favorite reads was a book given to me by my first boss when I was 16.
While I felt it strange at the time, I now appreciate him insisting I read it.
The book was called Rhinoceros Success by Scott Alexander.
In the book, Scott talks about the power of carrying a $100 bill (or more of them) in your wallet wherever you go.
He explains how empowering it is to have it, and keeping it close is always a good thing.
Well, running my own company has now made me understand the value of every dollar.
More specifically the long period my wife and I, and our staff went without, as we put everything in at the beginning.
The first thing I did was tucked away a $100 bill in my wallet as the book told me.
I then made a promise to my wife that I’d work so hard that we’d never need to take it out to spend it.
I’d say that’s some motivation to close down YouTube and start working on your dreams.
It doesn’t have to be money… Perhaps something else you value? Keep your motivator in view.
I love the Adventure Fund money box.
having that in view of your desk would keep anyone on track during slumps in motivation and productivity.
Keep your motivators in site… Just have a quick word with the other half before you bring the motorbike indoors.
Cost: Nothing. Find something you love, or save your own money. The holiday will cost, the saving won’t.
It’s nice to share a mutual goal with your partner too.
Time to set up: Varies.
Productivity score: I liken working without goals, to trying to steer a ship without a rudder. Neither can be done…
You’ll just go round in circles.
With that in mind, we all must have something we are working for surely?
Our first home, the wedding, our retirement, that vacation to Disney… our children?
Assuming we all have something we love that drives us a little harder, I have to give this a 9/10
29. Take A Cold Shower Early… A Hot Shower Late.
Image from the movie Psycho (1960) directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
If you have the luxury of working from home – or can get home at a reasonable hour and find yourself working into the evenings – then I highly recommend a rejuvenating shower to give you a couple of hours “second wind”.
Taking advice from Tim Ferriss and his team of neuro-researchers, I now suffer a cold shower in the mornings (to boost free testosterone).
It’s a shock every time and I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to it.
But it does have me feeling better.
I usually work from 11am through till 9 or 10pm.
So, I usually take a second shower at around 6pm.
This one I keep nice and hot, and just let the water run over my head for a few minutes.
With focus on the sound of the falling water I usually find I can turn my brain off for a few minutes and just relax.
Once I’ve finished I’ll get dressed again, clean my teeth, and put on some fresh deodorant and clothes.
This feels almost like waking in the morning, and I find the time after my shower to be a good time to answer emails and clients back as I am usually in rejuvenated and good spirits.
I honestly think the secret to working 10 – 12 great hours – rather than 6 – 8 good hours is to trick your brain…
Shock it into action in the morning with a cold shower, and trick it into thinking it’s a brand-new day in the evening with a rejuvenating hot shower.
The benefits that have been linked to cold showers include:
1. The strengthening of the immune system
2. It can massage the body and relaxes muscle tension (via contractions)
3. Denies inflammation, bacteria, and toxins the warm environment they need to thrive
4. Lowers blood pressure
5. The cold can purify the blood for better flow (the more oxygen the brain gets the better the neurotransmitters can perform, and the brain can create ATP energy).
Cost: A bit of water, a bit of heating… But what value do you place on another hours work in the evening?
Time to set up: Nothing. I’d hope two showers a day is the norm any way. Take the cold shower for 5 minutes, the hot for 10.
Productivity score: I don’t like the mornings, but I do feel sharper when I start the work day 7/10
28. Sleep Better With F.lux, Apple’s Night Shift, And Windows 10 Night Light
Here’s three Apps worthy of individual praise due to their ability to aid quality REM sleep.
Early 2016 it was blindingly obvious that I was spending too much time in front of the PC.
I was also working too late into the night, and the result was disrupted sleep. Simply horrible.
The issue is that come night time, our bodies start to naturally increase melatonin production, the key hormone that helps knock us out and off to the land of nod. ZZzzz.
Unfortunately, the blue light emitted by modern screens found on laptops, tablets, and smartphones attacks melatonin production.
This delays the onset of drowsiness and the desire/ability to fall asleep.
If you are never tired when it comes to bed time, but always tired when it comes to getting up time, perhaps it may be your screen’s fault?
Thankfully companies such as Flux, Apple, and Microsoft among others have created solutions by giving us the option to kill the levels emitted from the white – blue spectrum by our devices.
F.lux. (for laptops and PC’s) www.justgetflux.com
F.lux has been a lifesaver. When I first created Nitrovit and Neuro Laboratories I was wired.
18-hour days, too much caffeine, and too little sleep.
The excitement of building the sort of company I always wanted to be a customer of, the fear of failing and going all the way back to square one (and manic depression), and the wonder of what could be…
All and everything stopped me sleeping… for nearly 2 years.
Thank F.lux I found a solution!
F.lux has plenty of settings so you can fine tune when you want your monitor to start removing blue light, and when to stop.
I usually have mine kick in around 7pm, on a gradual decline.
The more light removed from the white-blue spectrum, the more “yellow” your screen will go.
It doesn’t take long to get used to this though.
Windows 10 Night Light (available and free for all devices running Windows 10)
If you’re running Windows 10 then you’ll likely have Night Light preinstalled.
Night Light serves the same purpose, and can be turned on and off at the press of a button from the Start bar as shown here:
Alternatively, you can access the settings menu via the following steps:
1. Click on System
2. Click on Night Light Settings
3. Set up Night Light to your needs
Apple Night Shift (iOS 11)
Apple also incorporate a blue light blocker themselves in iOS 11 (and previous versions).
While limited in options, it does help if you find yourself gawping at the small screen until the wee small hours.
Here’s where you’ll find it…
1. Pull up from the bottom of your iPhone to the shortcuts screen, and then hold the screen “brightness” button for 2 seconds
2. Here you’ll see the Night Shift On icon on the left. Hit it to activate.
Cost: All the above apps are free.
Time to set up: Most are installed already and need only 2 – 5 minutes to familiarize yourself with the settings.
Productivity score: With no outlay, and all the benefits offered by quality sleep, it’s an 8.5/10 providing you don’t mind a yellow tinted screen.
27. Momentum – My Favorite Desktop Productivity App
While I have noted my preferred 5 apps for Productivity later in this list (see point 17), Momentum gets its own special mention for just being awesome.
Momentum acts as your computer/laptops web theme…
Every time you hit the little Google icon on your toolbar to go surfing, you are presented with Momentums chosen wallpaper – and NOT the standard white Google search page and box as most of us experience.
Your shortcuts bar and search bar are still at the top.
Momentum’s wallpaper is always a beautiful view or scenery shot, and has the following features: (all aimed at keeping you productive, and focused on today’s “one main task”).
1. A welcome message personalized to you across the center, and the time displayed boldly to keep you focused on every precious minute.
2. A request to know “What is your main focus for today?” You enter in what it is that you are currently working on, and it then appears in the center of your screen with a tick box to check once completed.
3. There is a to-do list lurking in the bottom right corner which is super easy to add to, and check off items once completed.
I personally still keep my notepad and pen by my side to scribble down all things I can think of that need doing…
Each morning I then select my 3 most important tasks from that list and type them into Momentum to keep me focused on them for the entire day.
4. A motivational quote at the bottom to keep you focused and pumped up! Momentum’s researchers do actually find some great quotes.
5. You also have the weather visible for your location.
6. A settings tab and the name of the location used for the days image. You can upgrade to a paid version with added features such as uploading your own pictures.
7. Momentum also has a cool option where you can enter your own links – such as those most commonly used for work.
But here’s what really makes the Momentum App so awesome…
Every time you feel like taking a quick “web break” (Am I still winning William Shatner’s wig on Ebay?!), Momentum pops up immediately to either slap you back to reality, or simply fill you full of guilt!
Cost: $0 – All functionality described above comes with the free version.
Time to set up: It takes 2 minutes to install, and 5 minutes to input some data.
Productivity score: Free, functional, and a hell of a guilt trip…
It’s an 8/10 from me.
26. Surround Yourself With Toys/Lego/Fidget Cubes/Spinners/Rubik’s Cube
Toys are brilliant for creatives. Just make sure they don’t end up causing err… distractions! Image Courtesy of www.nyotaku.com
It’s OK… You can have some toys. I think mine were confiscated after I got married. But they’re back!
Surrounding yourself with things that inspire you (such as a figurine of your favorite superhero) can have a positive effect on your work output.
The colors, the shapes, and the often ‘unreal’ or fantasy nature of most toys can help break our creativity out of the box.
Despite having absorbed years of our normal reality, fantasy and make believe reminds us to rethink the rules.
In fact, with offices of some of the world’s most lucrative and creative companies adorning their work areas with play things, and games, you’d be foolish not to join in the fun.
Be honest… Being an adult quite often sucks, and for most of us, our childhoods, birthdays, school holidays, and vacations made childhood magical.
We’ve all heard the expression “growing up too soon”, and most of us are guilty.
But there’s no issue with growing up. Just an issue with not embracing the inner child…
He or she is still in there you know.
I personally find the clearer the line between the “child” and “adult” chapters of my life, the unhappier I become.
But when that line gets blurred, and despite adulting most of the time, I get to have fun like a child again and I’m happy.
I’ve always found that surrounding myself with things not far removed from my childhood days keeps a nice balance.
Toys, games, puzzles. Anything that makes you think out of the box, is always good for making you think out of the box.
It’s all fun and games at Coupa, and the staff report to be very happy. Image credit: Coupa.
Studies by Harvard revealed that if you make a workplace more fun and creative to be in, people will stay longer.
Make your work desk look more like a den you’d loved to have hung out at when you were a kid.
The mini basketball hoop that lives on the top of the trashcan, a big box of Lego for taking a creative 10 minutes out, or a mini drone for flying post it notes to colleagues…
Give yourself permission to allow a little fun back on to your desk.
Cost: $5 upwards.
Time to set up: Minimal. Get up in that attic and bring that old box of Lego down now!
Productivity score: Just a small boost to productivity (being in an environment you love).
But, a big boost to creativity and creative problem solving 7.5/10
25. Scents And Incense – 5 Essential Oils That’ll Help Boost Your Productivity And Focus
So it’s no secret that Lavender oil and other natural scents have been used for millennia for their healing properties and medicinal benefits.
But aromatherapy probably isn’t the first thing that springs to mind when you are brainstorming how to grow your business – or yourself.
Yet, when we inhale essential oils such as Eucalyptus or Jasmine, we activate a part of the brain (called the hypothalamus) which can have a positive effect on the nervous system.
Most essential oils have been shown to have positive effects on the human body such as:
- Lowering anxiety (increasing mood and focus)
- Reducing cortisol levels (the stress hormone)
- Soothing headaches and other physical pain
- Lowering blood pressure
- Stimulating the digestive system
From a 3-hour energy boost, to another 3 hours of sounder sleep, there’s an essential oil out there for every ailment and stress.
Grab your diffuser and a bottle with my quick guide to the best 5 essential oils for boosting your productivity:
1. Lavender – A great stress reliever that soothes the nervous system, and helps relax tension in the body which can often result in headaches, lack of focus, constant body pain, and even lift a low mood.
Lavender has also been shown to help you fall asleep. Put a couple of drops on your pillow before bed for a sound night’s sleep.
Wake feeling amazing and raring to seize the day.
2. Sandalwood – My personal favorite. I’ve always found Sandalwood helps boost my alertness and concentration levels. The fact that I adore the smell is a bonus.
The scientific studies show that Sandalwood essential oil can help lower brain inflammation, and improve blood flow, which in turn can provide clearer focus and thought processes through increased oxygen to brain.
3. Jasmine – Due to its ability to relax and relieve anxiety, Jasmine is a great oil to inhale during social situations such as online calls/meetings where you may need to present or communicate to a group of people.
I think Jasmine leaves a nice fragrance in a room and is great for loosening up a party evening, or a brainstorming meeting.
Put a few drops in a bowl in the meeting room and measure the increase in engagement as the scent begins to make your people feel comfortable contributing their ideas and opinions.
4. Peppermint – A great energy boosting scent used to alleviate “brain fog” and promote clarity.
Light peppermint up during creative thinking sessions and you may be surprised to find ideas pouring out of you.
Its never let me down and is a great oil to inhale when afternoon fatigue sets in.
Do you commute to the office during rush hour?
A recent study found drivers exposed to peppermint scent while driving felt calmer and helped lower tempers.
Try using a Peppermint air freshener for your car and focus on your targeted achievements for the day… Not the idiot driving 18 inches from your rear fender!
5. Rosemary – If lethargy and mid-afternoon slumps seem to take the wind out of the sails of what could be productive days, then consider Rosemary your friend.
A study conducted at the UK’s Northumberland University discount that students who worked in a room with Rosemary in did 5 – 7 % better in their tests than those children who studied in classrooms without the memory boosting plant!
The anxiety and inflammation relieving properties allowed the children to focus on what was being taught and retain more of the store information.
You can buy oils and apply to cotton and dab or gently rub onto the temples, forehead, neck and under the nostrils.
Alternatively, you can add drops of oil to a bowl of warm water, use a reed diffuser, or purchase an electric diffuser which is mains powered.
I prefer the latter, though do also enjoy buying incense sticks when I’m travelling around and see a “smells shop” as I call them.
Those incense sticks are messy, and can choke you with smoke if lit in a room too small, or unventilated.
Not sure where to start with reed diffusers? Read Get the Gloss’s great review guide
Cost: Diffusers start at around $15. Oils start at $5.
Time to set up: Minimal. Though a 5 minute weekly clean is needed if warming oil with a burner.
Productivity score: Better sleep and lower anxiety always = more productivity.
I’ve been using smells for years when working (or song writing) and love it. Gets me in the zone. 8.5/10
24. Entertain The Monkey Mind With One Of Nature’s Little Wonders
Image courtesy of: www.basic-bonsai-tree-care.com
As crazy as this might sound, when having a mental block, I always found looking at the old Bonsai Tree I had by my desk helped.
I’d let my brain wander as it took in the details of the twisted trunks, and how the little moss looked like real grass, and how…
Well after a couple of minutes of giving no thought to anything but the appreciation of this mini marvel tree, I would come back to work with a clear head – and within half an hour would be full of ideas.
Giving yourself something detailed to look at, without having to completely interrupt your thought process by leaving your desk, is a great way to give the brain a reboot.
Watching a fish tank or even caring or petting a plant (leaf stroking) can have a real positive effect when it comes to lowering stress levels.
Ideal if up against a deadline or are suffering from paralysis by analysis.
If you struggle with creativity issues, problem solving, and suffer mental blocks, I highly recommend you try putting a small fish tank on your desk, or a Bonsai plant.
It doesn’t even need to have fish in (and preferred not if using a small tank).
Instead you could build a miniature underwater garden called an Aquascape.
That little Nano tank on the right could prove a useful distraction, and relaxing spot to stare through while contemplating tomorrow’s deadline. Image courtesy Rainforest Concepts.
Cost: $40 upward for the Bonsai. $100+ for a decent tank with decor and the basics (filter/heater).
Time to set up: Both are surprisingly time consuming. Bonsai gardening is an artform.
Aquascaping and fish keeping can be very rewarding, and you can shape and mold your display as you go on with new tank decor.
Productivity score: I would say a 6/10 for productivity, unless it’s creativity related. Then a firm 8/10
23. Your Keyboard Is Your Rifle!
If you find that the vast majority of your working time is spent with your fingers on the keyboard then treat your fingers to a little luxury.
If you’re a coder, writer/blogger, designer, marketer or anyone who makes a living from being sat all day behind a monitor then recognize that your keyboard and mouse are your weapons.
With your fingers dancing across them all day make sure what you are using is “healthy”.
I don’t mean wipe it down with antibacterial wipes, but rather provides wrist/hand/anti-repetitive strain support, doesn’t fatigue you easily, delivers efficiency and productivity via speed and ease of use, and most importantly inspires you to use it.
The best advice I could give you here is to go out and try a few. My last mouse took all of a second to choose.
I went along the row grabbing each mouse as I would if I was using it, and then the moment I held ‘the one” it just felt perfect.
Like a glove.
I was out with my wife at the time and she tried my mouse of choice after my glowing report and immediately proclaimed “Oh no, that’s far too big for me!”
These things are subjective. Don’t ask for recommendations.
Instead find one you like in your hand, then check out its reviews.
You may want to first discover what grip type you are, or would like to be.
- Palm Grip – The most contact with the mouse. My grip of choice. Maximum comfort, but slightly less accuracy when clicking buttons.
- Claw Grip – Just the rear of the palm makes contact with the back of the mouse. A more accurate hold, but becomes uncomfortable with long use.
- Fingertip Grip – Using just your fingertips to guide your mouse provides great accuracy, but also provides the most discomfort of the 3 grips during longer sessions.
TIP: If you are a claw or fingertip user you’ll almost certainly appreciate a narrower mouse.
Wireless or wired power?
I strongly recommend you go wired for maximum productivity.
There is nothing worse than finally achieving a state of flow while nailing that deadline piece – for your mouse and keyboard to run out of juice and die on you!
Charging regularly, and potential charging and connectivity issues can be time consuming and frustrating.
If you already use wireless and love it then stay with what you know.
If you are on the fence then trust the guy who’s spent a small fortune in search of the hand held Holy Grail.
I’ve found out the hard way – wireless for most will create another unwanted distraction.
2 buttons or 10?
Most mice these days are adorned with various buttons – buttons you can usually assign your own personal shortcuts to.
If you want to access Trello by moving your pinky finger 8mm. then check out gaming mice.
They can often be the best mice for productivity seekers due to their:
- Ergonomic shape (designed for hours of non-stop gaming use and rapid-fire mouse clicking)
- Responsive and accurate thanks to high DPI (dots per inch) sensors
- Loads of handy buttons that can often be used to trigger shortcuts, apps, programs etc.
TIP: When buying a mouse, look for one with a clickable scroll button.
This will allow you to shortcut opening new tabs and windows. It may only shave mere milliseconds off, but I’d be lost without it.
Computer Keyboards – Are they all the same?
When choosing a keyboard there are two main choices:
- Standard height keys (like your standard equipment keyboard from the 90’s)
- Low profile keys (like a laptop/MacBook keyboard)
Over years of alternating, I have personally found that my hands tire less if I use low profile keys.
Having the key height all at one level, and therefore not having to elevate my hands and fingers those extra millimeters or so makes the world of difference when tapping away for 14 hours.
With that said, my Mum is the fastest typist I’ve ever met.
She could touch type at an enormous rate of words per minute.
She also used the biggest keys I’ve ever seen as she’d shred on her old typewriter.
What I use and why?
I use the Razer Deathstalker Ultimate.
I have for some years now, and while it cost a small fortune ($200) compared to the cheapy thing I had before, I have never regretted it, nor would I likely change.
When this one dies I’ll buy another. Here’s why:
- Accuracy and lack of fatigue – Low-profile keys on a full-size keyboard – with a full size Left Shift button (I’ve come to find this so handy as opposed to those tiny ones you get on some keyboards).
- It’s a tank – I equated its price to quality. The gamble paid off. It’s nearly 4 years old now, and except for the soft wrist rest sticker having peeled off some time ago, it’s never let me down. (Send me a new one Razer.)
- Its mouse track pad is also an LCD display – which can be used as another monitor to surf the web, check cheat codes (loser) without quitting the game, and have YouTube running directly off the keyboard in the office while you pretend to work.
- It’s lit up like a Christmas tree – Lights and OLED buttons and displays and all that goodness.
That alone adds to me feeling like Kirk piloting the Enterprise… Which is great.
Cost: Varies greatly. You shouldn’t see much change from around $40 upward for a decent mouse, and $50 upward for a quality keyboard.
Time to set up: 99% of keyboards and mice these day are “plug and play”… So the time it takes you to get under the desk and plug it in. Your computer will figure out the rest.
Productivity score: I use my keyboard and mouse all day, every day, and I appreciate the quality and comfort. 9/10
22. Deliver The Best Version Of You With A Quality Webcam And Microphone
Samson’s desk mounted mic boom keeps your work space clutter free…
If you deal with customers/staff (or even loved ones) over web based communication sites such as Skype, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger then treat your listener to the very best version of you they can get across the interweb.
Often the connection can suck, so having poor, crackly audio and a 20 year old black and white webcam just doesn’t cut it.
Upgrade to an HD webcam and a decent USB mic and make it a pleasure to connect to customers, friends, colleagues or family.
The recipient of your call will have no issue chatting longer (great if making outbound or sales calls), and won’t be straining to hear you.
I recommend getting a “boom” mic stand to attach to the edge of your desk with zero clutter as in the pic above.
Cost: A decent USB mic starts around $70 on Amazon. Check out this Blue Snowball if you haven’t already. I’ve used them for years now with no issues.
A sturdy desk mounted mic stand can be had on Ebay from $20.
A quality HD webcam will cost around $50.
The great thing about the mic is you may often find yourself just recording your thoughts into a program like Audacity.
Essentially a piece of free software that acts like a giant tape recorder. Perfect for practicing a speech or presentation.
Getting your thoughts and ideas into MP3 format for later listening and reviewing can not only prove a valuable tool for both personal, and business growth, but also helps clear the mind.
I often record my thoughts into my phone, even though I rarely listen back.
I just appreciate getting the ideas out of my head, and not have them trouble me at 3am. Try it.
It can be a great day brightener too if you suffer from loneliness as a result of working from home alone.
Time to set up: 10 – 20 minutes including familiarization.
Productivity score: 8.5/10 if you make web based calls or create products/services that require recording your voice.
21. Get A REAL Calculator For Maximum Productivity
A calculator? But I have one on my iPhon… DO NOT USE THE ONE ON THE PHONE!
OK, so my biggest issue with using the calculator on our smartphones is that to access it – we have to look at the phone!
…The missed call, the social media notifications sucking you in, the William Shatner’s wig auction result! The temptation to check your email… The list goes on.
I always keep a calculator to hand, so I can still do the math, but without needing to trigger distraction tripwires… And my phone has LOADS of them!
Of course, you can now punch any equation into Google and it will return the answer.
But there is something a little serious about holding a calculator in your hand.
Don’t let your phone become a weapon of mass distraction.
Time to set up: Nothing.
Productivity score: When I factor in the damage to productivity checking my smartphone can do, I’m saying 9/10 here.
20. Use A Stopwatch App To Manage Your Work Sessions
When I first started searching Google for “self-development” tools, the industry immediately thrust forward its seasoned vets and “Guru’s”.
Like all of us, I was looking to better my life… My fulfilment, success, health, relationship, and ultimately my happiness.
The world of self-development offered thousands of mentors who for a little of your cash would be prepared to share their secrets and help you attain that dream the above goals.
One such person who had a real presence and grip on the market was Eben Pagan. Eben rocks.
He’s young, smart, successful, financially secure, and above all, he achieves all that by helping others grow as people.
And Eben is the real deal in terms of being a work monster with a diehard ethic.
Anything I could learn from him about his daily routine and rituals was of huge value.
Well one of the first products of Ebens I came across was an information product called “Wake Up Productive”.
The home-study style program was an instructional information product designed to make me feel physically, and mentally in my prime!
…Energetic, enthusiastic, and productive.
Well what I learned most from Eben’s program was his work timing.
He sets a timer for 50 minutes and works (standing FYI), and then after 50-minutes he does whatever he wants for 10 minutes.
Eben usually stretches, gets some air outside, or plays a game or puzzle to help refresh the mind and have it thinking differently for 10 minutes.
I like this routine, though I’ll be honest in saying I prefer to double the time, and go 100 minutes and 20 minutes break.
I can get a game of Call of Duty in in 20 minutes. I can’t in 10.
All jokes aside, I do find that by the 50-minute mark, I’m only just getting focused.
Sometimes I’ll even go 150 minutes with half hour off if I’m enjoying it.
Find what works for you, but remember to use the stopwatch app on your computer – not your smartphone.
You want to forget that thing entirely while focused on producing your best work.
Where to find the Windows 10 Alarms and Clock application
If you are using Windows 10 then you can find the “Alarms and Clock” app by going to the Start menu.
There you’ll see the app on the left in the menu.
Here under Timer is where you can adjust your countdown time:
Is there a stopwatch app for my MacBook?
There are many options for Apple users.
Timer for Mac comes approved and is free to download from here…
Cost: The App is free – and others can be found.
Time to set up: 3 – 5 minutes including download/installation.
Productivity score: Using a structured work rouine and becoming accustomed to it rocks.
I may not always stick to Eben’s recommended timings, but I do state a set number of hours before I start.
I commit to it, and then put it into the stopwatch and GO!
9/10 for structured work and rest periods.
19. Surround Yourself With Manuals And Books By Your Heroes
While I don’t suggest stockpiling copies of Harry Potter hardbacks on what little desk space you have left, I do recommend keeping your favorite (reference) manuals within reaching distance.
I’m not a big fan of ‘content thin’ motivation books that serve no purpose other than to pump you up.
I favor “manuals” and How-To guides such as those created by:
- Tim Ferris (of 4 Hour Work Week Fame)
- Tony Robbins
- Brendon Burchard
- David Allen of Get Things Done fame
Not too dissimilar to this list you’re reading now, most of these manuals don’t really have much in the way of a start and a finish.
Instead they have a good contents page that can point you in the right direction for a solution for the problem you face today.
Books are very subjective, but if you are looking for a good place to start then I recommend these reads which I consider of high value.
Their solutions and teachings are timeless and can be referenced again and again.
1. Tools of Titans – Tim Ferris. “Fitness, Money, and Wisdom – Here Are The Tools.”
A “journal” shortcutting the best tips and life hacks as detailed by the world’s greats Tim has interviewed over the years.
Want to know Arnold Schwarzenegger’s daily morning routine? No problem.
Want to know how Iceman Wim Hof withstands zero degree temperatures when he swmims the Antarctic? It’s in there.
Looking for advice on investing in startups? Tim’s interviewed some of the best.
If you don’t have time to listen to Tim’s podcasts, this book is full of the summaries of all the people he has interviewed.
2. Leap! 101 Ways To Grow Your Business – Stephanie Chandler. This book blew my mind…
It wasn’t like most business books where it endlessly harped on about profits, and growth, and revenue drivers and so on.
Instead it puts a lot of emphasis on how to build a company YOU would be a customer of.
Better service standards, simple Wow factors, and client retention…
Whatever you want help with for growing your company, Stephanie has ideas by the bucket load.
3. Life’s Golden Ticket – Brendon Burchard. What if you were given a Golden Ticket that would let you restart your life anew?
A beautiful parable about ‘second chances’, as written by one of the world’s highest paid motivational speakers and high-performance experts.
In this much softer approach than you’d expect, the story sucks you in and you soon realize that YOU are the character in the book in so many ways.
Read this wonderful tale, and feel yourself grow as you do, choosing gratitude over negativity.
4. First Thing In The Morning – Osho. Literally anything by Osho.
The legendary Indian thought leader and spiritualist turned author is fantastic, thought provoking, life changing stuff.
Osho plants seeds, and teaches lessons, all while keeping you entertained.
He’s written so many great books over the years to help develop and strengthen both the heart and mind that I had to include him in this list.
5. Rhinoceros Success – Scott Alexander. The book I was made to read by my first boss when I was just 16 years old.
It’s the one book I’ve read the most (and have gifted the most).
It has you the reader imagining tomorrow morning you wake up as “Three tons of snorting Rhinoceros charging full speed at success and happiness, mowing down all obstacles in your way.”
It’s a very light, jovial read, with many small paragraphs made out as life tips.
As I hold it in my hand now, I realize it’s been far too many years since I last read it. I will start tonight.
6. Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson. While I was never a big Apple fan, nor Steve Jobs fan when he was alive, I did read this book after his death.
I will say this about the book:
- If you care not for Steve Jobs, still read it. It’s an education.
- The book serves more as a manual for how to build great products and companies
- I’ve always been a details guy and a bit of a perfectionist. Something not welcomed these days. Steve gave me permission to be that way again.
I loved every page, and was given a privileged look into what it took to build one of the most lucrative and iconic companies on the planet.
The result was I believed I too could create something amazing. This book will do that to you.
7. Change Your Life In 7 Days – Paul McKenna. Probably the best self-development book I’ve read.
Paul is a master hypnotist who has worked with many of the world’s greatest leaders, athletes, and business elites.
This book is designed to be read in 7 days – a chapter a day.
At the end of each chapter is a set of mental exercises to do…
The objective being to make you more productive, happy, fulfilled, successful, better with money, and healthier.
A self-hypnosis CD/download accompanies the book. I used to listen to it daily.
I need to get back to that habit. I was very productive back when I listened to it.
Cost: Audio books start from $6 (Rhinoceros Success).
All books still available at various prices depending upon format (softback, hardback, audio, digital/Kindle).
Time to set up: Time to read is required. Try to put aside 30 minutes in the morning as a ritual.
Productivity score: It only takes one idea to change the world. Books provide those ideas. 8.5/10
18. ADHD Sufferer? Get A Lava Lamp – Seriously
I very much doubt there are scientific studies into whether or not “Lava Lamps” can improve productivity.
But I can promise you that my ADHD quietens down when I’m working with a Lava Lamp on in my peripheral view.
I believe it is the constant (yet rhythmic) motion of the oil moving through the water that keeps my monkey mind entertained.
While a lifetime sufferer of Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), I discovered in my 20’s that my love of the Lava Lamp also provided “health benefits”.
1. My Restless Leg Syndrome was reduced. I have theories, but no conclusive evidence as to why… I simply “drum” less now with my lamp on.
2. I found I could focus longer with the lamp on. Its constant movement to me is like a gelatinous pet keeping me company – but without the disrupting need for food or walkies!
3. Funky, quirky lighting always warms a room up and perks up my mood – and running off just a single small 20w bulb, it costs very little to run.
4. It looks badass – I have the Mathmos Neo (violet and pink) on my work desk. Check it out (not my office)
I don’t always run it however, choosing to only turn it on when working on a project.
If sending emails or reading industry news for example I will not use it.
If I’m about to try and write the last 17 points of this blog post however (!) I will turn it on.
If I had always left it on, it would have lost its advantage.
Now my brain recognizes what it means when the light is on… Hard work.
I’ve found my mind calms not just because of the soothing nature of the lamp…
But also because as just stated, my mind is now conditioned to quieten when it knows the lamp is on.
Cost: $85 – $110 depending upon model.
Time to set up: 5 minutes maximum to unbox and put together the 3 – 4 parts (depending upon model).
Productivity score: I’ve strengthened my neural pathways to know that lamp time is work time.
I nearly always works for me and calms my racing mind too. 8.5/10
17. The Apps/Software I Couldn’t Be Without
Apps are OK. Some I couldn’t live without, but most I try to avoid.
For myself and my ADHD, the less logins, passwords, and virtual places to ‘keep my stuff’ the better.
There are of course some apps I’ve used since the dawn of (my) time.
I will mention these in case you are just transitioning to running your life/business via your computer/devices.
There are thousands of “Apps for productivity” articles out there however, written by people who know the industry better than I.
So, if you’re a fan of Apps I’d recommend you check out dedicated articles written by the experts.
Here’s my life savers:
1. PowerPoint – Presentation tool and so much more
Please don’t skip this thinking I’m talking about using it as the presenting tool it was designed as.
I use PowerPoint for literally everything – I’m serious.
Writing a letter? I do it on an A4 size PowerPoint slide.
Designing the website? I did it all in PowerPoint and then handed the file to the web developer.
Nitrovit’s bottle label? PowerPoint.
Putting a red circle around my pizza choice in the menu photo my wife just messaged me? Yeps… PowerPoint.
When I submitted my original business plan, asking strangers for lots of their money, and then presented to the investors – everything was done in PowerPoint (PPT).
I can’t quite explain how I came to love it, but I can explain why I came to love it.
I suck as a communicator when it comes to sharing my visions.
I could talk till next Tuesday, but you still might not get what I’m seeing in my head.
PPT allowed me to easily illustrate my ideas.
I’ve found most people hate to use PPT files (preferring Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator).
But I find (with the exception of blending) there really isn’t anything Illustrator can do that PPT can’t.
When I gave the PPT file to the web developer, he said “What do you want me to do with this?”
I said, “Open it, and whatever you see, I want EXACTLY that up on the web.”
“Well you couldn’t be much clearer so that saves us some time” he said.
To this day, if I have an idea I want to sell to the team such as a new product, I’ll do it with PPT.
I’ll design the label in PowerPoint, and render a 3D model of the bottle, and then put together a brochure in PPT.
They INSTANTLY get my vision.
If I’m making plans to the garden, I’ll take a picture, put it into PPT.
Then I’ll add other images (removing their backgrounds) such as a bench or table, or whatever I am trying to visualize.
Finally I’ll take the completed image to the boss (the wife) and try and sell her on it.
If it’s a good idea and will look nice, we can both clearly see it in the PPT image.
One day I’ll do a whole article solely on the doors PowerPoint has opened for me…
It will always be my most loved App/program. (And no, as beautiful as it is, Keynote isn’t the same sadly.)
2. Skype – Online voice/message service.
An invaluable online telephone service allowing you to call other Skype users (most of us it seems) for free.
The quality is nearly always great – no matter where in the world you are.
The available plugins prove useful allowing you to record your calls among other things.
The beauty in recording your conversations with others?
You have an instant Podcast if you want.
You can also “Share your screen” with the person you are talking to…
So they can also see what you are looking at on your monitor.
3. Dropbox – File Sharing App.
Myself and my team used this cloud based free storage/file sharing facility to share the endless amount of work needed to create the business.
Photos of ideas on napkins, Word docs, MP3’s and 4’s… Master PowerPoints for the website, and so on.
Dropbox (for free) allowed us to share, and edit docs (in real time, with all users’ versions being updated) to our hearts content. We still use it daily.
4. BeFunky – Photo Editing App
While not essential to living a fulfilled life, BeFunky has saved my ass on more than a handful of occasions.
It is the simplest photo editing tool I have found with stunning results.
You can use it to enhance pictures, or old low-res images found on the net.
5. Constant Contact – Email responder system
I’ve included my email responder here because if you are thinking about sending out informative emails to your customer list – but just don’t know what to say – or if they’ll “like you”, I just say DO IT.
I cannot express how serious I am being when I say my emailing has provided some of the happiest moments of my life.
Firstly, while I may be no writer, I do enjoy sharing what I’ve picked up off the many brilliant minds I’ve met, studied with, or just followed online.
While others may not like your style, or message, start your own blog or client emails FOR YOU.
I found by doing it for myself (rather than for marketing purposes) my readers loved it even more.
I asked my email list what sort of content they wanted, and this blog post is the result of that poll.
So please don’t be shy. Start putting out your knowledge, and help those new to your industry learn.
Someone I knew in the fitness industry once said…
“But I’m so sick of saying the same old thing… No one listens, no one cares, it’s all been said before and I’m just repeating it”.
I said “right now, someone for the first time ever is searching the net for someone like you to help them with their problem…
You’d be selfish to let someone who cares less than you guide them”.
“Every day someone looks for a personal trainer for the first time ever? I never thought about it like that” he said.
Never focus on what others are doing… Focus on just doing what you do best.
The others will follow, or fall away in the distance.
I’ve had 6 replies to my emails in the past 5 years that have had me in tears, people sharing their stories, thanks, and so on.
It’s an amazing way to connect with people, and I have made friends in real life too.
I’ve become friends on social media as a result of my emails, have enjoyed phone calls and Skype chats, and even met a few clients as a result of me deciding to start sending emails out.
It isn’t easy these days reaching people with your message, with Spam folders and the like diverting your messages.
So having a reputable autoresponder system like Constant Contact establishes trust.
People can unsubscribe with one click so you aren’t disturbing any one except those that love hearing from you.
Due to the size of my email list, my monthly fee is just over $100.
But, if you have a list with less than 2,000 subscribers, or just want to dip your toe and see if you get a response, then MailChimp is a free email service you can use.
One click sends your email to everybody on your list, and can even enter their first name for you.
It’s a little touch I love and when people reply back to you, then you can take a moment to send them a personal reply thanking them and answering all/any questions/suggestions they may have had.
So, get writing. Your people WANT to hear from you.
I’ve never used this work planner/file sharing app, but I seem to be the only one that hasn’t.
You can list work to be done, assign it to team members, monitor progress, and share files for updates and opinions.
I’m going to check it out.
This great app has over 2,000 nonfiction books, many from the self-development/growth, psychology, and leadership and management fields – which have been condensed down into 15-minute reads (or audio files).
So rather than reading an entire book, you can simply read a 15-minute overview and summary only highlighting the key points.
This gives us the power to now (technically) read (to the point of comprehension) 6 – 8 books a day!
Evernote is your pocket diary, where you put pictures, and notes, and thoughts, and ideas, and scraps and so on, but its online – not in your pocket.
Wherever you can access the internet – you can access your vault of information.
Tim Ferriss claims to have written the entirety of Tools of Titans by posting all the notes, drafts, and pages into Evernote.
Despite the clear benefits to productivity, by having everything in one place no matter where you are, I still love paper, and real notepads, so haven’t transitioned over yet.
But I might do… Maybe next year.
Cost: From free to paid, prices vary depending upon App and license requirements.
For a free mailer service (up to 2,000 subscribers) check out Mail Chimp: https://mailchimp.com/
Time to set up: App install and setup times vary.
Depending on internet speed, some downloads can take hours.
Ask for help if you aren’t computer savvy, though most programs are “Newbie friendly”.
Productivity score: Like it or loathe it, Apps are part of our lives now.
Some are useful productivity tools, some are not.
Great if you can avoid getting bogged down with hundreds of Apps. 8.5/10
16. Inspire Productivity With A Gorgeous View/Picture Of A View/Quote/Something That Drives You
It goes without saying that if you have the luxury of a view, positioning your desk to take in that view will inspire most of us to appreciate our work – more than facing a blank wall.
Second to your own view is to hang someone else’s view on your wall…
New York… San Fran… Some tropical beach….
You choose what you take in so let it inspire you on those cold, dull, boring, tax return days.
You don’t just have to have a view you could use, or a wall to hang a large canvas of something that motivates you.
If these aren’t available then give a little thought to your screensaver and desktop wallpaper.
If your screensaver pops up often, you WILL be taking in whatever message or theme you currently have set.
Most likely unconsciously.
Make sure all messages on your computer and smartphone (be that wallpapers, screensavers, profile avatars etc.) are conducive to your goals, dreams, targets, and not negative or unconsciously creating self-limiting beliefs.
And if you are inspired by the draw of the big bright city lights, then get a big picture of that above your desk to look at and drive you.
Cost: Free to find wallpaper off the internet, and select a screensaver.
Artwork – and views – can be costly.
Check EBay out for some great priced canvas picture suppliers.
Time to set up: 3 – 5 minutes for the computer. For hanging a picture – you tell me.
Productivity score: It’s proven. Your environment does affect your mood, energy levels, and motivation to work.
Take pride and pleasure in setting up your workspace, and top it off with a stunning picture, or by setting it up by the window. 8/10
15. Inspire Your Year By Creating A Vision Board
By far one of the most fun tools to create for your self-development arsenal.
The concept of making your own “vision board” is to simply create a collage made from newspaper, magazine, and poster cuttings, of all your goals and desires.
That might be experiences you want to have, or material things you wish to buy.
Perhaps people you wish to travel and see again, or even milestones for your business.
Vision board image courtesy of: www.embracinghealthblog.com
Once completed your finished vision board should be placed either above your desk, or somewhere prominent where you’ll likely see it often throughout the day.
It is believed that the things you put on your vision board are likely to come true, be achieved, or attained.
Even more bizarre is that for many people, this is the reality. It has worked for them.
There isn’t any magic behind the results, but rather a part of the brain doing as it should.
Have you ever noticed that you never really see red cars on the road until you want to buy one?
Have you never realized how many pregnant women there are walking around until you yourself (or your wife) became pregnant?
What is happening here is a part of the brain called the Reticular Activating System (RAS), acting like a homing radar to bring our attention to things it deems important to us.
If you are thinking about getting a new job, you will start noticing job vacancy signs in windows and the like…
Much more than if you were not looking to tell your boss where to stick it…
With our worlds and realities providing so much data and input, the RAS serves as a filter to help block some of that and only let our focus and attention lock on to what matters.
Here’s how it works…
Let’s say you put on your vision board a picture of an exotic holiday to somewhere you couldn’t quite afford.
By focusing your attention on that image for a few minutes a day, you let the RAS know what’s important to you.
You will start conditioning your brain to bring your focus to that travel agents you didn’t know was there – despite walking past it every day.
You’ll start to spot holiday offers, and savings coupons in the papers.
Even the fact your passport expires in 3 weeks suddenly springs to mind.
Of course, if you want to get fit, you can’t just sit on the couch all day imagining a 6-pack and staring at a picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s midriff!
But, by focusing on that picture first thing in the morning, during the day when you allow your eyes to take a break from your work, and last thing at night, you will start to find your days filled with the desire to join the gym.
You’ll need to take a little action and get yourself down there to sign up, but you should find it easier than before.
Vishen Lakhiani, CEO and founder of award winning self-development company Mind Valley has all new employees start by making their vision boards.
The management’s job is to now provide the guidance, tools, and resources to achieve the employee’s goals on their board.
Here’s a couple of my own vision boards from a few years back.
I made them in PowerPoint by pasting images I found on the internet and then just moved them around till they looked OK.
Then I had a printing shop print both out for me onto A3 card.
They looked fantastic and I did achieve a lot of what was on there…
Sadly not the stacks of cash or Lamborghini yet, but I’ll stay focused.
You can see my “motivators” (things I want to buy), and my “experiences” (things I want to do).
I’ve achieved some of this already, and so they need updating.
Cost: Nothing if you use cuttings from newspapers, or images from the net.
Time to set up: It took me about a day to do mine.
That was thinking about the things I wanted to achieve, finding suitable images.
Productivity score: A very powerful tool that works much like prayer.
Keep your focus always on your goals and you’ll never tire of doing the work needed to achieve them. 9/10
14. Surround Your Workspace With Productivity Boosting Plants
Author Tim Ferris has a wonderful planted area in his house where he likes to sit and work.
Who doesn’t love a splash of green to brighten up your home or office workspace?
Well decorating with certain plants will also give you an unfair advantage as they work their magic on your energy, mood, and productivity levels!
Dr. Marlon Nieuwenhuis, Psychology PhD, who teamed up with universities from Australia, the UK, and Belgium to study plant/productivity relationships said:
“Our research suggests that investing in landscaping the office with plants will pay off through an increase in office workers’ quality of life and productivity.”
His studies have found surrounding yourself with plants will make you more engaged, both mentally and physically in your work and can boost productivity by 15 percent.
Now saying the average work week is 50 hours (that’s low for those of us really putting it in), a 15% increase in productivity would give another 7.5 hours a week…
Imagine what you could achieve with that alone, never mind any of the other points on this list.
There’s more… The University of Exeter discovered that staff who made design decisions in heavily plant populated spaces increased productivity in the sessions by 38 percent.
Creativity was boosted by 45 percent due to the inclusion of plants to the space.
So, without any further ado, I’d say let’s go grab some plants.
Not just any though… Try these for your specific needs.
1. Aloe Vera – My sister turned me on to this some years back after I burned myself.
She took a leaf from her Aloe Vera plant and snapped it in half.
Inside was this cool clear liquid like you might wear as a facemask.
She put it on the burn and the painful sensation faded away within minutes.
She went on to explain how she has used it for years for cuts and burns, skin care, heartburn and upset stomachs (she pours the insides of the leaves into a glass of water and drinks it).
Well I was hooked and have found it a wonder plant for all kinds of ailments.
It lives well indoors and purifies certain toxins from the air too such as formaldehyde.
2. Garden Mum – NASA in their search for plants they could use in space, to purify the air quality on the stations, confirmed that this pretty plant purified and removed toxins better than any other.
Our furniture, office equipment, and even the paint on the walls are giving off toxic fumes and odors, and material “fluff” which we breathe in daily.
Garden Mum in NASA’s tests removed Xylene, Formaldehyde, Ammonia, and Benzene from the air – more than any other plant.
3. Gerbera Daisy – Attractive to look at, easy to keep, and one that will look after your health too.
The Gerbera Daisy is perfect for a home office as it can filter and remove toxins created by machinery.
One of the substances this plant removes is Benzene – a toxin let off by printers which can cause inflammation and brain fog.
4. Jasmine – While not liking much more than a few hours a day of direct sunlight, Jasmine can be kept indoors, and will provide a scent that soothes and gently relaxes.
The best way to boost focus is to lower distractions – the tiny thoughts, disruptions, background programs and voices running constantly in our heads.
Quieten the white noise and you can increase your focus intensity easily for long productive work or study sessions.
5. Spider Plant – Hardy, easy to care for, cheap and available most places, and it’ll help reduce stress and improve air quality.
A study found the Spider Plant was one of the best indoor air pollutant removers.
Improved air quality means less dust – one of the biggest causes of workplace sickness. Dust irritates allergy symptoms and can cause inflammation.
Taking care of and looking after plants is for the most part fun… Most of us probably getting our green fingers back in college.
Their air purifying properties can help alleviate symptoms of congestion, dust irritation, sneezing, and cloudy headedness.
All the plants mentioned above are low maintenance.
For some strange reason, working in a space with plants can be quite a spiritual experience.
We know plants are sentient, and many species such as mushroom clearly communicate with each other and share resources.
Whether you decide to talk to your plants and give them all their own little “Popsicle stick” name tag is up to you.
If not just keep them in quality soil with room for the roots to grow.
Water (don’t overdo it), and research the preferred light choice of your chosen plant before baking it next to the cactus in the green house.
Cost: House plants with a decent vase/bowl start from $10.
Time to set up: Depends on whether you buy pre-potted, or pot your own.
You will need to factor in brief daily maintenance.
The more plants you have, the more time you’ll need.
Productivity score: A relatively low cost, with huge ROI in productivity. 9.5/10 if you don’t mind the daily maintenance.
13. Use “FB (Facebook) Purity” To Reduce Stress!
You REALLY NEED this Facebook Filtering App. So good it is that I have listed it separate of the Apps list.
FB (Facebook) Purity is the best App I’ve found for boosting my productivity, mood, and focus, and here’s why…
I admit – I get triggered. Easily.
Well this App allows you to stop Facebook showing you certain topics and stories based on keywords you select.
If you don’t want to hear about politics, war, animal cruelty, or even the result of the Football you missed last night, just punch it into the App (within Facebook) and it will filter your news feed.
In the F.B Purity settings, you have a lot of options.
This includes a box where you can filter out words you don’t want to appear in your newsfeed.
Looks like I’ve upset someone. FB Purity tells you who has deleted you.
If you are on social media there is a high chance you’re being exposed to some degree of controversy, or disagreeing opinions and differing points of view (such as is often found on Facebook and Twitter).
Even taking the time just to process these negative viewpoints can sap energy, enthusiasm, and focus.
I’ve been running it for over a year now and can say hand on heart that it has transformed my Facebook experience – for the better.
I can see the photos from my friends Friday Night out, without seeing their comments on their favorite politician’s page.
Cost: It is free. Install FB Purity by getting it from their website: www.fbpurity.com
Time to set up: Allow 5 – 10 minutes to look at the options and block a few topics.
Productivity score: This has had a serious effect on my social experience.
I felt before I was being poisoned with constant exposure to negativity and division.
Now I only see the good shit! 9.5/10
12. An External Hard Drive (At Least 1 TB)
This is just some of YouTube superstar and filmmaker Casey Neistat’s digital storage devices.
If you don’t know who Casey is, check him out.
He is a filmmaker turned vlogger who makes the most amazing videos.
He lives a crazy life, does charity work, is worth millions, and gives productivity tips too.
He has 8.7 million subscribers so he must be doing something right.
He has TB’s and Terabytes of storage with a record of every photo, film, and thing he’s ever done saved to them.
It took three hard drive fails before I learned the lesson – BACK EVERYTHING UP!
If, like me, your work is stored on your computer, ensure you keep a copy (updated at least weekly) on a separate storage medium.
You can use thumb-drives, pocket drives like the WD Passport, or even online storage says as Google Drive or Apple’s iCloud.
Just be sure to make copies of everything.
We used to do so much to ensure our old photos were kept safe and dry, and quickly accessible in case of fire.
Yet we do so little to keep our digital memories free from loss or theft, without a single copy kept anywhere.
Remember to data dump your phone too. You probably have more photos in there then you remember taking.
Hookup to your PC/device once a week and download a copy to an external hard drive…
The smart person will have a second storage device to make a copy of the copy.
3 times bitten for me, 4 times most definitely shy.
Cost: Storage varies in price and type, but thumb drives and memory cards are cheap enough these days.
Expect to pay $60+ for a decent amount of storage space – 1TB up).
Time to set up: Allow up to an hour to set up the hardware and download drivers.
More likely 10 minutes however. Tech is quite simple these days.
Productivity score: In terms of productivity, having everything you’ve ever done all backed up on another hard drive means absolutely nothing…
It even takes time to run/manage the backups, and drives can be costly if you need lots of space.
BUT – have your main hard drive fail on you one day and realize you’ve lost the lot…
…photos, meme collection, music, 3 years of study and coursework…
…all 397 pages of the 398 page book you had nearly finished and so on… GONE! Puff!
Imagine now having everything still sat safely on a second hard drive… It’s got to be a 9/10
I’ve been using the variations of the Western Digital My Book over the years with no problems.
WD’s The Passport (portable) starts at $59.99 for 1TB of storage space.
The My Book (static) starts at $99.99 for 3TB’s worth of storage.
11. Get A Notepad And A Pen You Love To Write With
Image and “The Wanderings” notebook courtesy of Wanderers Way: wanderersway.com/products/the-wanderings-notebook
I do love where document technology (such a “touch-pay”) is heading.
But I am also becoming bogged down with so much info online.
Be that “info” passwords to my accounts to remember, legal contracts that now reside on endless unopened .PDF docs stored god knows where on my hard drive, or simply how my tiny brain is having to constantly take in information via electronic devices…
Due to this, I don’t believe many of us have much more storage space left upstairs.
And so, like a mental massage or brain dump, I try to write as much as possible.
To-do lists start life in my notepad, as does formula ideas, article drafts, and sometimes just my thoughts.
I always like to plan whatever needs executing on, and so planning on paper – before turning on the computer – gives my brain a refreshing reboot from the LCD display it is so accustomed to staring at.
But don’t just settle for any old scrap of paper… Find a notepad or journal you really love.
One that inspires you to treat the last page with as much respect as you did the first page.
Love that notepad like the shoulder it is to cry upon.
The same goes for your pen. In the hands of a writer (or thinker), the pen is a mighty weapon.
If you must insist on saving the forests, Slims (BUKcase) make this great leather “book” cover for your iPad Mini.
Time to set up: I set aside 10 minutes every day to fill in my list of things to do, and yet I am forever scribbling things down.
I probably spend around an hour a day with my good old fashioned pen in my hand.
Productivity score: I think a notepad is invaluable. I rarely make mistakes anymore, because I spend 60% of my time planning and brainstorming what needs to be done in my notepad – before executing.
A far cry from the days when I was forgetful, unorganized and went in to everything blind and without prior thought. 9.5/10
“Give me 6 hours to chop down a tree and I’ll spend the first 4 sharpening the axe” – Abraham Lincoln.
10. Lift Energy Levels By Raising Your Monitor To Eye Level
If you do the majority of your work on your laptop, the chances are you probably look down at a relatively small screen (19” or less).
This causes fatigue and potential back health issues.
It can also result in poor posture, which can lead to all manner of health issues.
A monitor riser will lift your monitor up to eye level so that you can look ahead with a neutral neck.
No more looking down your nose, where the eyelids want to naturally close.
You will figuratively take the weight off your shoulders through better posture and feel less tired.
Try it now with a cardboard box, case of beer, or whatever you have to hand.
If using a laptop, you will likely need to plug in an external mouse and full-size keyboard.
This is great as a full-length keyboard can do wonders for opening the chest up.
It will allow the shoulders to go back to their natural position.
Laptops with narrower keyboards pull the shoulder forward and contract the chest causing back pain, and tight pec minor muscles making you hunch.
Satechi’s $44.99 F3 Smart Monitor Stand features powered ports for charging your devices.
Cost: You can find cheap risers from $15 upwards, though cardboard boxes do just a good job – providing it is stable.
Time to set up: 2 – 5 minutes maximum… Lift the monitor off the desk, place the riser, and put the monitor back.
Productivity score: HUGE! The early fatigue onset caused by looking down to a laptop is crippling to productivity. 9/10
9. Create A “Productivity” Music Playlist Or Use Binaural Beats
Music while working can be a love/hate thing. Personally, I don’t mind music when I work.
I don’t like lyrics in music while working however…
Every other word seems to catch and distract my attention.
For this reason, I listen to instrumental music…
Rock, blues. Jazz, Chillout or Progressive Trance (I know). None of which disturbs me.
A study done in the UK discovered that the type of music we play in our cars affects the way we drive.
Science tells us Heavy Metal and aggressive Rap songs destroy any shred of courtesy we might normally show to other road users.
The same can be said for the music we listen to when working.
I find my writing style – be it a 10,000-word article, or a 100-word email – changes in tone, pace, and emotion, depending on what type of music I am listening to.
If I need to write something that I hope will leave the reader, pumped, motivated and taking action, then I’ll play dance music, or something fast paced.
If I am trying to convey emotions and sensitivity in my writing style, I’ll put on some Blues.
Playing around yourself with different types and mindfully monitor your mood.
The ultimate music motivator.
One of 2017’s best discoveries for me was a YouTuber who goes by the name of “TheStriveStudies”.
The lady who created the channel literally does nothing but film herself studying.
She does this to a relaxing (and lyric free) soundtrack – of which her song choice is superb.
She has many videos of differing musical tastes, and study lengths.
If you’ve set the next 2 hours to working a task today then pop over to TheStriveStudies channel and click on the 2 hour session.
It’s free too – just be kind and leave the lady a “Like” for her efforts.
I usually have this playing on my second monitor (discussed later).
Her microphones pick up her shuffling papers from time to time, little clicks of the mouse/keyboard, and the odd glass ‘chink’ now and again as she takes a sip of water.
It may sound strange, but trust me – every single time you feel like taking an unscheduled/unearned break, Jamie will still be studying away undeterred.
That is a guilt trip in itself.
Meet Jamie of TheStriveStudies. She’s quiet, respectful of my space, and never tires. I’ve probably spent 50 hours now in her company working away as she does too in the background.
Prefer a different type of music? No music? Perhaps to work alongside a man?
Fear not, as there are lots of YouTubers doing these sorts of videos.
Now you can choose someone (and their music choice) that best suits you and your tastes.
If you don’t know what a Binaural Beat is, you might be surprised to know it doesn’t have much to do with beats at all.
Instead, two similar tones are played at two very slightly different frequencies (Hz) – one in each ear.
The slight variation in tones creates a rhythm that stimulates the brain, creating various responses.
These responses can be bizarre, and in some cases, create a ‘high’ as if under the influence of a narcotic or substance.
For this reason, Binaural Beats are sometimes referred to as Digital Drugs.
Do they work, and if so, how can you use them to increase your productivity?
Well there isn’t conclusive evidence to suggest either way.
The frequencies resonate areas of the brain associated with pleasure.
This can boost dopamine which helps with anxiety, and focus.
I tried many different ones, from Binaurals that were designed to make you productive…
To ones that are supposed to induce orgasm. Neither really worked.
I felt strange pulsing sensations in my temples and forehead, but not enlightenment sadly.
Head to YouTube and try for yourself.
Remember… Because binaural beats put two different tones in each ear, you really need to listen using headphones to help isolate each tone.
Whether you choose study music, binaural beats, or just a good old fashion playlist, try to create it in advance so you aren’t being distracted every 4 minutes as you search for your next song choice (and inevitably end up watching Supercar Fail vids, or 11 minutes of Owls nodding their heads!
I have multiple playlists set up in YouTube including lists called “Work Music”, “Research Music”, and “Break Time” (features lyrics for when I am taking a break from writing).
For that reason, invest in an “under-desk” headphone bracket that will allow you to store your headphones safely – but off the desktop.
The Brainwavz Truss is a great little under-desk hook for storing your headphones, without cluttering vital desktop real estate. $17.99 + postage.
Cost: While there are paid services such as Spotify, Apple Music and so on, I find YouTube to be great. Many users have already put together great playlists you can use.
Time to set up: Allow a couple of hours to create your lists, or add a song as you hear it. I’m forever “topping up” with new songs.
Productivity score: The right type of music can really help push you through a tough workout. I’d say the same for music’s effect on your work time. 9/10
8. Pull In For A Pitstop With Your Own Self-Repair Kit
Most of us associate work with stress and mental fatigue and pressure.
Yet rarely do we acknowledge the physical toll it can take on our bodies.
I highly recommend you get a little “Pamper me” tin with all sorts of soothing and pain relieving creams and gels.
Try these to help take the weight off your shoulders after a long day in the chair.
You might even be able to pull in for a “pit stop” towards the end of the day…
That’s when these items should get you a couple more laps under your belt before you retire for the night.
If you care about the long game and still want to be able to sit down in 5 years time then start prioritizing 20 minutes a day to patch yourself back up.
1. Deep heat (or similar brand) Heat Patch – Wherever you’re feeling achy, simply place one of these air activated heat pads and sit back and relax.
The patch increases in temperature providing heat relief to combat the inflammation and tightness.
Also available as a rub in cream… “Darling, I can’t reach my back. Can you come rub this cream in… for an hour” 😉
Expect to pay around $7.00 for 4 patches, and $6 for the cream.
2. Spiky massage ball and foam roller – While both these items could be classed as items of torture (and will likely feel that way the first couple of times you use them), they are super beneficial to those suffering the repercussions of being desk bound all day.
The foam roller you place on the floor and literally roll on it… providing a deep tissue massage.
It acts as a rolling pin ‘flattening out’ and stretching the muscles.
By slowing moving your body over the foam roller, you’ll loosen up the painful myofascial tissue that can cause muscular pain, and help speed up post workout recovery too.
Foam rolling twice daily has shown to aid in preventing injuries, removes knots and tightness in the muscles, and increases flexibility.
The spiky ball is great for targeting smaller specific areas such as between the shoulder blades. You can place the ball on the floor, or against a wall, and then with your weight on it, move in circular motions so the ball massages your pain point.
Expect to pay $10 – 30.
3. Cooling eye mask – Soothe puffy and tired looking eyes with a rejuvenating hot/cold eye mask.
Perfect to wear during a 15-minute power nap, or get the version with eyeholes and continue working!
Not only does regularly using these eye masks help reduce the appearance of eye bags, wrinkles, and dark circles common among us cave-dwelling desk slaves, but I have found relief from headaches and eye strain while using a cold mask for 10 minutes, twice a day.
Available in most health and beauty stores, and supermarkets for around $7.00
Patrick Bateman wore his with style in American Psycho.
Mine just doesn’t look the same on me for some reason… Perhaps those “1,000 crunches a day” …
4. Hand cream(!) – Bear with me gents… It feels amazing.
Give your hands and fingers a 2-minute self-massage by rubbing in some quality hand cream (I recommend coconut) after a few hours bashing away at the keyboard.
Just try to keep it in your drawer… A large tub of lotion sat next to your works computer might get you an unexpected audit of your browser history!
The Hand Stuff is available online, and from stores such as Walmart for $8.60
5. EMS Machine – Too busy nodding off behind your keyboard to get to the gym?
Well know you can shock yourself awake and build a 6-pack while you’re at it… All whilst sitting down!
The small ‘electric’ charge makes the muscles contract repeatedly, forcing them to grow.
Pairing EMS use with a cardio based workout, or running, will return benefits if you can stand being electrocuted all day!
I’m joking, on low settings it can actually prove very therapeutic and give what feels like a gently massage.
All while preventing the targeted muscles from locking up where you’re sat all day.
“Just 30 minutes of EMS is like 1500 pushups” – Bruce Lee.
When was the last day you did 1500 pushups?
$20 (poor value) – $300 (excessive) from most sports retailers and department stores, and Ebay and Amazon.
Cost: Most items are inexpensive. I think the rewards outweigh the outlay.
Time to set up: Make time for yourself. Set aside 20 – 30 minutes a day for ‘self-healing’.
Productivity score: I can’t put a price on how good a hand massage with hand cream is after typing for 11 hours!
I usually feel rejuvenated and can return to work. 9/10
7. Never Forget To Rehydrate With A Water Bottle And Elastic Bands
“The human body is 90% water so we are basically just cucumbers with anxiety.” – @Taryn
OK, so not 90%, but with the brain made up of just under 75% water, it’s no reason dehydration can be one of the biggest causes of “brain fog” and lack of focus.
Not drinking is not thinking…
Of course, due to severe dehydration we always forget to drink our “8 glasses a day.”
One really neat trick to drink more water is to put rubber (or hair) bands around your drinking vessel.
Start with 6 – 8 bands around the glass, and every time you drink all the water you remove a band and fill it up again.
At a glance you can see how many more glasses you need to drink to hit your daily target (8 large glasses of water).
You can of course reuse a plastic bottle by filling it up 8 times and putting a marker pen tick or roman numeral on the side of the bottle.
Cost: Tap water, bottled water, sparkling… You know what you like. Inexpensive for hydration ROI.
Time to set up: Minimal. Now go fill that glass up again!
Productivity score: Dehydration can finish a day. It costs nothing, and the endless trips to the toilet will burn calories. 9.5/10
6. Keep A Daily To Do List
This one needs no introduction. Though, perhaps a reintroduction?
Probably one of top ways to boosting how much productive juice you can squeeze from your day.
But many of us try to keep too much in our heads in this age of digital information bombardment.
I urge you to go primal once more and write a daily to-do list. Here’s why…
Benefits of consistently using a to-do list:
1. Calming – a brain-dump a few hours before bedtime has been shown to improve sleep quality, and decrease restlessness and waking.
Getting everything out the night before lets the brain know it’s not been forgotten and a solution can wait till the morning.
2. Productive – With everything to do laid out, prioritizing in terms of importance of the task can make for very productive days.
No more “Damn, I forgot to send that invoice today and now it’s the weekend!”.
3. Focused – Having prioritized what’s most important to your family/happiness/health/wealth, you can now focus on just the top 1 or 2 items on your list.
Use Pareto’s 80/20 rule to do the 20% of the work that provides 80% of the rewards.
4. Reputation building – What gets written down gets done. That includes calling back that customer complaint, paying that invoice, getting that manual order out the door yourself, or going to the boss with the problem before it’s too late.
Learning to live out of my to-do list, writing deadlines for each item (and committing to them), and delegating or outsourcing what I could that didn’t need my skill set, that really helped me take charge of my life.
Better still, I could take charge without setting my ADHD haywire (I.E. filling my to-do list daily was low effort and caused no discomfort).
It actually provided a surprising form of relief by getting all my festering worries out of my head and onto paper.
It is often easier finding solutions if you scribble down the problem.
Any important dates/meetings or items I need reminders for I put into Google Calendar.
I’ve used it for years and it’s never let me down, lost dates, or failed to notify me of an upcoming item on my schedule.
Cost: Running a to-do list costs nothing but a little time.
In the bath, on the toilet, on the train… You decide. Just do it.
Time to set up: 5 – 10 minutes per day writing your outstanding tasks and prioritizing them.
Productivity score: I think of the person I was before I started using a to-do list – useless.
Today (efficient and effective, mostly) I always run a daily to-do.
I keep it prioritized, with the 3 main tasks actioned.
My inability to focus and organize would have ruined my business.
My to-do list kept me on track, and still does. 10/10
5. Choose A Desk That Inspires Your Creativity, Passion, And Energy For What You Do
I suddenly have no issue working. Image courtesy of Nicolas Junco
If you work from home – or simply have enough clout at the office to choose your own desk – then make it a GREAT desk!
Spending so much time at it means its location, aesthetics, and functionality/size deserves your attention.
If given the choice of working among the mountains, with a view of forests and rivers for miles…
Versus working from within a windowless container?
I’m certain I know which of those two environments would help most of us thrive productively and creatively.
Our working/thinking environment can be the difference between an unhappy, frustrating life, and a fulfilled and content one.
A desk is so much more than just a desk.
This guy looks driven. Shouldn’t be on his phone behind the wheel though.
Should I get a “Standing Desk”?
“Sitting is the new smoking” – Everyone, 2016
Electric standing desk shown – Ikea Bekant
My current desk (Ikea Linnmon 78″) has adjustable legs.
I can have it set low as a traditional sitting desk, or raised up high if I choose to work standing.
I’ll be honest in saying I tried the standing desk method for 2 weeks and hated it.
With that said, I know people who both use and love standing desks.
I even know someone who replaced his office chair with a swiss ball some years ago and hasn’t gone back (which I also tried and hated).
It is worth noting that all the above-mentioned people are fitter, healthier, and look younger than me…
The reward for balancing your butt cheeks on a beach ball all day!
If you do fancy dipping your toe without spending a small fortune there are options.
Try a desktop riser you put on your current desk.
At the pull of a lever, you raise your monitors/keyboard up to a standing eye level.
Image and desktop riser courtesy of Varidesk
Perhaps I should have persisted, likely seeing the benefits of a standing desk with time.
But my feet burned, and I was always shifting my weight from side to side.
Plus, I just don’t have an issue with my big comfy chair…
I like sitting at my desk… And as for gaming standing up?! Don’t even get me started.
As long as I workout hard 3 – 4 days per week and move and stretch throughout the day then I’ll take the chair guilt free…
No matter what the Doctor says.
Make the commute all day long! Check out Kickstand Furniture.
Bonus tip: Boost Productivity AND Creativity by changing the position your desk faces frequently.
I have 3 walls I can put my desk against in my home office and every 12 – 16 weeks I’ll move it to a new position.
To me, this is the equivalent of starting a fresh exercise book at school.
It does wonders to blow out the creative cobwebs, so consider switching things around often – no matter the hassle… It will be worth it.
Whether you get a big desk or a small..
Standing, sitting, both… Just find one that inspires you to work.
We’ve got to spend a ton of our life hours in that environment, so make it one you thrive in.
Cost: Prices range greatly.
Expect to pay from $50 – $250 for something that won’t sag in the middle after a week.
Time to set up: Many modern desks come as kits you may have to assemble.
The turning of 26 wood screws can take a surprisingly long time if you aren’t “tooled up” and have to use the 5″ one that came in the box.
Allow an hour to build and 30 minutes to place and reconnect your monitors, keyboard, cable management etc..
Productivity score: I adore my desk <3. I’ve had it for some years.
If I was Tom Hanks in Castaway, my desk would be my Wilson.
I talk to it, and it hears all my problems. Supports me always (and my lunch).
“This dude really talks to his own desk Wilson?!”
I will likely buy the same again (the tops are replaceable).
If you feel the same way about your desk then you’ve got it right.
If you don’t get goosebumps thinking about your desk, try going to a desk shop and sitting at a few.
Big, long and glossy? Old yet presidential? Compact and industrial?
Go sit at some until you start to repeatedly mimic typing with a grin on your face.
Loving being at your work desk? Priceless. 10/10
4. Comfy Ergonomic Chair (It Doesn’t Hurt If It’s A Little Bit James Bondish)
The award-winning Steelcase Gesture Chair. The price?… You better sit down first!
What needs to be said? Invest in both your short-term comfort, and long term skeletal health.
Poor (slumped) posture has been directly linked to many ailments.
Poor energy levels, low confidence/high anxiety, and possible future back pain/disability, among the many.
For every hour spent sitting, it is recommended to get out of the chair, and stretch and move for 5 -10 minutes.
While we are sitting, let’s do it correctly. You’ll feel better.
A posture slumped forward (as most of us do as we reach for the laptop or mobile phone) sends a direct signal to the brain…
One of fatigue and tiredness.
Droopy eyelids, an unfocused mind, and the next thing clock watching and time wasting.
Ever get the 4pm slump when all you want to do is curl up under your desk for a 10-minute nap?
It’s all tied to poor posture.
Keep your back straight and upright, as if there was a thread of cotton coming from the top of my head and going straight up to the ceiling…
Lifting your shoulders and neck, and stretching your lower and upper back as the top of your head reaches for the sky.
Try it now, back straight, imagining being gently pulled upwards.
Feels good doesn’t it?
Now try to find a chair that keeps you naturally sat in that position.
It can of course recline, but if it is an ergonomic chair it will have certain common contours designed to fit the spine and human body for better comfort.
Find a chair with tall arms that support your own arms.
And try to find a desk that is high enough to put your monitor just about eye level.
If you find your head naturally tilted downwards consider using a monitor riser.
Ergotron’s website provides a brilliant ergonomics calculator.
Upon receiving your height, it displays a set of measurements specific to you.
Heights to set your desk, chair, and monitor for optimal comfort, energy, and spinal health.
The settings even adjust for Bifocal glasses wearers.
You can get your workspace setup calculations from the website here…
Cost: Prices range but expect to pay in excess of $80 for a decent chair.
I pay around $300 for a chair, and keep it for 2-4 years depending on when the cushioning disintegrates.
I see paying for quality, and keeping it the smart choice.
We spend a lot of hours in that chair, so make sure it supports and comforts.
If you enjoy slipping into it, you’ve found yourself a good one.
Time to set up: Some chairs may need basic assembly. Allen key usually supplied. Allow 30 minutes.
Productivity score: The poor thing has to have your bum in its face all day! Show it some love.
Find a chair that doesn’t make you aware you are sat in it.
You don’t need the distraction of discomfort, as it kills productivity.
10/10 when you know you’ve found the right one.
3. A Margarita (2… Maybe 3… Whatever.)
Want to squeeze 1 more hour out of the day? Then you better get squeezing those limes.
I do appreciate drinking alcohol while working is often the fastest route to shutting up shop and calling it a day.
But, I discovered a personal sweet spot between “defrosting” after a long day (1 margarita)…
…and “destroying” everything I’d spend years working for (about 4 margaritas).
So, if you have to write those last two grim emails you’ve been avoiding all week, pop the cap on a bottle of Tequila and enjoy a little turbo boost for 20 minutes…
DO NOT keep working (at least customer service) after your third margarita.
You’ll likely be calling the customer “mate” and giving everything away for free…
A surefire path to destroying your reputation, and that of your business.
Of course, the above advice is only meant for homeworkers.
Waltzing into the weekly board meeting swigging from a jug of frozen margarita guarantees you’ll be sent to clear your desk.
Oh, and don’t become an alcoholic! Seriously…
This tip is supposed to be pulled out of the hat on those rare occasions you have to work, but would rather jump off a cliff.
Only then is it time to deploy this emergency protocol.
Do not utilize this tip everyday or you can kiss goodbye to being productive!
My Special Margarita Recipe…
It would be rude not to share. Here’s what you’ll need:
2 shots Silver Tequila
1 shot Triple Sec
4 shots of Lime Mix
Crushed Ice (equivalent to 5 medium ice cubes)
Kosher salt and lime juice for the rim
I skip the lime wedge. It always falls off onto my trousers.
Lime Mix per drink:
2 freshly squeezed limes
1 shot of water
How to make it:
1. Run lime wedge around the outer rim of the glass. Dip the rim in salt (sprinkled on a plate). Put to one side.
2. Pour the Tequila, Triple Sec, lime mix, and ice into your cocktail shaker.
3. Shake for a good 20 seconds till thoroughly chilled.
4. Strain the margarita into your glass/glasses.
Cost: Getting pretty pricey these days. Does vary, but…
I advise spending the money on a quality Triple Sec – the flavor difference is noticeable
I advise getting expensive Tequila…
The cheap stuff is usually guaranteed heartburn in a bottle.
Time to set up: To be perfectly honest, the setup time and even the making is a right pain in the ass.
That is a good thing. It stops you ‘going back’ like you would for beer after beer.
Allow 4 minutes to make each one (including making the lime mix).
You can make a large batch of lime mix and refrigerate it.
Expect a lot of mess… Especially after you’ve had a couple.
Productivity Score: Drinking alcohol doesn’t make you more productive.
What it does do is help get you through times when you just can’t face any more work.
Even when completely drained, I might find something fun to do like a draft label design.
Then I’ll grab a margarita and get another 30 minutes out of my working day.
I can bare doing more, despite being shattered, if I get a “treat” to go with it.
9.5 /10 for a very small time period. After the third drink that score plummets to 2/10.
You’ll do lots of “work” – but in the morning you’ll see you produced nothing but gibberish fit for the trash can.
Remember: Please drink responsibly.
2. Double Productivity With A Dual Monitor (Or More!) Setup
Probably number 2 on my Desert Island Productivity Items.
If I could save just 3 then a dual monitor setup would 100% be in there.
I will never the forget the first day I connected to the internet.
And I will never forget the day I connected a second monitor.
I am currently running two 28” AOC monitors which give my eyes plenty of real estate to wander around.
I can have 4 different documents open at once.
More commonly I have the document I’m working on a monitor directly in front of me, and the document or web page I’m referencing on a second monitor to my right.
It’s hyper-productive compared to endlessly switching tabs in the bottom menu bar.
A second monitor really rewards if you are using a laptop.
Plug in a 19”+ screen and use that as your main display… The laptop’s monitor being your second.
Being able to see two different items at once is a god send.
That, combined with not having to open and minimize tabs constantly makes two monitors one of the biggest things you can do in terms of boosting your productivity.
Image courtesy of www.matrox.com. I’ve used Matrox in the past hassle free for the times I was using a laptop and wanted to run and extra 2 monitors – not just 1. Their kits provide easy connectivity and setup, and a great quality picture.
Cost: Monitors start at around $70 for an 18″ screen.
Expect to pay $100+ for a 24″
Time to set up: 2 minutes. Connect the power and HDMI cables and you’re set.
Most are plug and play – meaning no need to install them or drivers.
Productivity score: A big fat 10/10 for the dual monitor setup.
You can a bonus point for 11/10 if you run 3 monitors.
6 and you’re just a poser. (I’m envious.)
1. Supplement Daily With NITROvit And NITROamp Focus Boosting Nootropics
It would go without saying that my number one Productivity Tip would be to take the supplement I built for my own ADHD and productivity issues.
Productivity Tip number 1 – “Biohack” yourself!
If you’re reading this right now you’re likely already a long time client (or thinking about becoming one) and will already know my story.
Nitrovit is the brain enhancing Nootropic formula I wrote for my own focus, memory, and attention issues, as an alternative to what the Pharmaceutical industry had me on.
The medication was supposed to make me feel normal…
Instead it just made me numb.
I lost all my lust for life. No laughter, no libido, no drive, no dreams and goals. No happiness.
I was plunged into depression because my achievements weren’t matching my abilities.
I was unproductive, finished nothing, and never acted upon all my great ideas… Know that feeling?
Thankfully I had been a supplement fanatic since I first joined the gym at 18 years old.
And with a good understanding of the brain and body, set about researching nootropics.
Nootropics are both naturally found, and laboratory synthesized ingredients, that can positively affect core brain functions.
These functions can include:
- Boosting your ability to recall old memories.
- Improving verbal fluency and speech in social environments.
- Increasing mental alertness and energy.
- Warding against aging by cleaning Lipofuscin and fatty deposits that clog the brain’s arteries.
- Turning back the clock by triggering Neurogenesis – the regrowth of new brain cells.
Well I set out to find the most effective and safest nootropics and formulate my own productivity, memory, and energy booster, so I could come off the Doctor’s meds and start getting healthy.
My formula worked amazing and family and friends insisted I let the public have it too.
I hired two of the very best neuroscientists to confirm my findings, and Nitrovit was born.
A brand new batch. Straight from the lab for my approval.
Today Nitrovit is made under certified GMP regulations as set out by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).
Each batch goes through 5 rigorous tests and tough Quality Control procedures before it is shipped all over the world.
It’s not just the incredible formula that allows us to offer a full 1 Year Money Back Guarantee.
Nootropics users normally range from Students wanting to boost their abilities to recall learned information come exam time, to Seniors wanting keep their faculties and independence.
From Entrepreneurs looking to get that unfair advantage, to ADHD sufferers like me who use them to perform at our best – day in, day out.
I personally get great mental benefits from Nitrovit – taking three capsules daily.
I feel sharp, focused, and always have productive days using Nitrovit, along with most of the other points on this list.
My huge increases in alertness and mental energy come via Nitroamp – a Guarana “Booster” designed to be taken with Nitrovit. I take 2 capsules daily.
I haven’t used medication now for years, and while continuing to take Nitrovit I protect and nourish my brain with antioxidants and natural nutrients.
Noopept (for memory support), Alpha GPC (Choline for learning), and Phosphatidylserine all feature, and are real nootropic powerhouses.
Without my prototype Nitrovit formula you’d not be reading this blog post. God only knows where I’d be.
Still going from job to job I suspect, blaming the world… Taking zero action.
Well one day I just stopped kidding myself and started taking action.
I needed to do a lot of work on myself, and Nitrovit was the first part of the equation.
My work environment, my diet, my fitness levels (lack of)… It was all out of whack.
But one day the pain gets too great and we take action.
I hope you do too if in a similar situation, or just want to make this a fulfilled and financially successful year.
Start executing on those dreams and goals. Make it happen… And let Nitrovit make YOU make it happen
Nitroamp – 30 Day 1 bottle Amped Pack – $17.97
Nitroamp – 30 Day 3 bottle Amplifier Pack – $44.97 ($14.99 a bottle/$0.48 per daily serving)
Nitrovit – 30 Day 1 bottle Student Pack – $59.97
Nitrovit – 90 Day 3 bottle Quarter Pack – $129.97 ($43.33 a bottle/$1.39 per daily serving)
Use Coupon Code: 20off for 20% discount – Click here to get yours…
Time to set up: None. You can order today and receive your order within a couple of days.
Productivity score: 11/10 If this was ancient Greece, Nitrovit would be the God of Productivity and Motivation.
Try it. 20% Off. Money back if you don’t have the most productive work day you’ve ever had.
I’ll let you discover nootropics for yourself by heading to www.projectnooyou.com now where you can learn more.
Let me know your thoughts, and perhaps I can add your suggestions too as we build this list together.
I guarantee I’ve made at least a handful of mistakes on this page, and I’m sure you’ll tell me.
I’m grateful for that. This has taken nearly 9 days to finish including writing, uploading and formatting.
I’ve been staring at it so long that I’ll revisit after a couple days away from it for a re-check.
I hope you action at least one item on the above list, and while you’re at it, give Nitrovit a try…
If you don’t experience better focus and productivity, memory recall, and mental energy within 20 minutes of taking 2 capsules you can have your money back.
What’s more, I’ll take 20% off right now for you.
Use the coupon code: 20off
Let me know what you started doing/tried for yourself, and the results in terms of increases to productivity.
Thanks for taking the time to read this (if you got this far), and for being part of the community.
I really appreciate it.