design, essay

Creating an Environment for Productivity

I got a new vacuum, and I’m absolutely delighted.

Some might look at a vacuum and think of all the chores they have to do.

I look at that vacuum and love it as a new tool.

Why? Because it will help me keep my space clean, and a clean space is conducive to productivity.

Granted, not everyone will agree with me; some function perfectly fine surrounded by clutter.

But I am a stickler for organization. I’ve learned over the years how important it is for me to keep things clean and simple around me for my own sanity.

The more organized you are, the less you have to spend your mental energy on distractions as you work.

I strive for simplicity in my life. By simplicity, I mean elegant design. Elegant design means creating structure that supports both productivity and rest. It entails creating space (physically and mentally) and time to focus on the things you want in your life.

Creating structure requires making decisions about how you are going to spend your time and energy in a day. To create space and time for your priorities, you have to develop habits that support them.

For example, because I value having a clean space for both work and leisure, I do basic cleaning of my home two days a week, blocking about an hour per day. I always keep my desk free of clutter, so when I’m sitting there, I have minimal distractions. I treat my hobbies similarly. All my music gear and art supplies are grouped for easy access.

I work from home, and I’ve created a routine comprising three parts on weekdays. Mornings are spent concentrating on heavy mental work for my job. I break mid-day for a workout and lunch. Afternoons are spent on chores, creative work and any planning I need to do.

Structures don’t have to be strict, by the way. You can adjust them by trying different things to see what works for you.

For inspiration, I suggest reading Paul Graham’s “Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule.”