The Power of Your Environment

A seed is the promise of a tree, even a harvest. When you hold seeds in your hands, you realize that they have the ability to produce plants and trees (even a forest), provided that you plant them and take care of them.

However, if you take your seeds and leave them on your kitchen counter, they’ll never produce what they were meant to produce. Seeds must be planted in the right environment (i.e. soil) to produce their “fruit”. If you place them in the wrong environment (e.g. your kitchen counter), it doesn’t matter how nice this environment is, they won’t produce.

Likewise, your environment affects your ability to produce. Certain environments enhance your productivity while others hinder it. Thus, if you wish to be productive, you must pay attention to your environment and set it up in a way that helps you be productive. And this is personal.

Because we are all different, you must organize your environment to suit your needs, not that of others. Some people can focus in noisy environments, and thus, struggle to produce in such environments, while others need the background noise to get anything done.

You must be mindful of your environment and figure out which environments help you create your best work. Granted, you don’t always control all the elements of your environment, but you benefit from doing what you can to put yourself in the best possible environments and to adjust what you can to enhance your work.

When you look at your current work environment(s), does it inspire you to produce great work? Or does it make you want to sleep? Or play? Or have conversations?

Experiment to find what works best for you.

Eliminate Distractions from Your Environment

Anything that hinders your productivity is a distraction. The Internet, social media, TV, your next door neighbor, who plays loud music—all can be major sources of distractions.

A distraction for one person may not be for the other. For example, some writers are distracted by music while others are set on productive overdrive when listening music.

I use to have my keyboard in my office (to protect it from the destroying hands of my young kids). It was a major source of distraction for me, so I move it out of the office (and set clear boundaries for my children). From experience, I know that my mobile device—which I love—can be a major source of distraction. Thus, when I’m working in my home office, I leave it upstairs, in my bedroom, where it’s out of reach.

You must determine what factors break your focus and eliminate them.

Make Your Environment Conducive to Producing Great Work

In addition to eliminating distractions, seek to make your environment conducive to producing great work. For instance, don’t overcrowd your environment to the point where you don’t even have enough space to move.

You must breathe. Air is important. Make sure your environment provides you enough air. Stuffy places are usually not as conducive to work.

You must see. Lighting is important. Make sure your environment provides you enough lighting for your work. Again, this depends on your work. Someone working on their DJ chops probably needs less lighting than a cartoonist.

Make your environment somewhere you want to go and produce great work. If you don’t enjoy being there, it will affect your productivity.

Decorate your environment with objects and images that inspire you to make your best work.

You may not have total control over your work environment, but whatever you part you control, make it your own so that your environment would support the work you seek to produce.