How to be Productive – Part 2: Productive Environment

Welcome back to the second installment of our productivity series. In “Part 1: Planning, Tasks, and Time“, we delved into the foundational elements of being productive, emphasizing the importance of effective planning, managing tasks, and mastering time. But to truly harness the potential of these principles, we need the right environment. An environment that fuels our drive, sharpens our focus, and keeps distractions at bay.

In “Part 2: Productive Environment”, we’re going to explore three critical components that can significantly impact your productivity:

  1. Organize Your Workspace: A tidy space leads to a clear mind.
  2. Sharpen the Saw: Stay updated and tune your tools.
  3. Say No to Demotivators: Identify and avoid energy drainers.

Whether you’re working from an office, your home, or a cozy cafe, the environment you curate is pivotal. Let’s embark on this journey to create an environment that not only complements the principles we learned in Part 1 but amplifies them to new heights.

Organize Your Workspace

A conducive workspace is instrumental in bolstering productivity and focus. It’s more than just about tidiness; it’s about creating an environment that facilitates work and minimizes potential distractions. Every item in your workspace should have a purpose, and if it doesn’t aid your work, it might be hindering it.

  1. Purposeful Arrangement: Ensure that every item within arm’s reach is there to assist in your tasks. From pens to notepads, everything should have a dedicated place, reducing the time spent searching and increasing work efficiency.
  2. Minimize Distractions: Remove unnecessary objects that do not serve a direct purpose in your work. Clutter can be mentally distracting, and a clear desk often translates to a clear mind.
  3. Ergonomic Comfort: Investing in a comfortable chair and ergonomic tools can drastically improve work sessions. Discomfort, even if minor, can be a significant distraction over extended periods.
  4. Tech Upgrades: Small screens, unresponsive keyboards, or slow internet connections can considerably hamper productivity. Ensure your tech is up-to-date and functions smoothly. For businesses where presentation matters, a high-quality camera and microphone are paramount.
  5. Sound Management: If your workspace is noisy, consider noise-canceling headphones or some form of soundproofing. Soft background music or white noise can help drown out distracting sounds. Ideally, especially if your work demands it, securing a silent room is the optimal setup to ensure uninterrupted focus and clear communication.
  6. Routine Maintenance: Periodically check and upgrade your tools, including your internet connection and hardware. A sudden breakdown can disrupt workflow and lead to avoidable stress.

Remember, your workspace is a reflection of your work ethic. An organized and optimized workspace not only boosts productivity but also fosters a sense of discipline and professionalism. By meticulously curating your workspace, you set the stage for optimal performance and minimize potential roadblocks.

Sharpen the Saw

Legend tells of a lumberjack, fervently working to chop down a massive tree. A passerby, noticing the lumberjack’s exhaustive efforts, asked, “Why don’t you take a moment to sharpen your saw? You’d cut down the tree much faster.” The lumberjack, without pausing, replied, “I don’t have time to sharpen the saw, I’m too busy trying to chop down this tree.” This allegory underscores the vital importance of not just working hard, but working smart.

  1. Efficiency Over Exertion: Just as the lumberjack would have benefitted from a sharper saw, ensuring that our tools, both tangible and intangible, are in their prime condition can drastically boost productivity. It’s not always about the effort you put in, but how effectively that effort is utilized.
  2. Optimal Setup: Just as a carpenter wouldn’t use a rusty hammer or a dull chisel, professionals in any field must ensure their tools are the best fit for the job. This goes beyond just physical tools to encompass software, strategies, and even the skills we acquire.
  3. Continuous Improvement: The tools and methods that were effective yesterday might not be as efficient today. Regularly updating, upgrading, and refining your tools ensures you remain at the forefront of your domain.
  4. Invest in Training: Sometimes, the best way to “sharpen the saw” is to invest in oneself. Training, courses, and workshops can elevate your expertise, allowing you to use your tools more proficiently.

In conclusion, working tirelessly without periodic reflection and refinement can be counterproductive. Ensure you take the time to “sharpen your saw.” It’s an investment in efficiency that pays dividends in enhanced productivity and reduced wear and tear on oneself.

Say No to Demotivators

In our journey towards achieving our goals, we often encounter negative influences or demotivators. These can be in the form of people, environments, or even our own limiting beliefs. It’s essential to recognize these demotivators and actively distance ourselves from them. By saying “no” to what drains our energy, we can focus on what truly drives us forward.

I believe that social media and apps that provide immediate dopamine boosts, conditioning our brains to constantly seek instant gratification, are the most detrimental to our quest for efficiency.

What to do? Here’s a list of advice to counteract the Instant Gratification Trap:

  1. Set Clear Boundaries: Limit your time on social media and entertainment apps. Designate specific times in the day for checking them rather than doing so impulsively.
  2. Digital Detox: Dedicate one day a week or a few hours each day where you completely disconnect from digital devices.
  3. Turn Off Non-Essential Notifications: Disable notifications for apps that aren’t critical. This reduces the number of distractions and urges to instantly check your device.
  4. Delay Rewards: Instead of immediately indulging in a desire, wait for a set period. For instance, if you want to check social media, delay it by 15 minutes. Over time, this can train your brain to be more patient.

The first thing to recognize is that overcoming habits ingrained over many years isn’t a simple task; it requires significant effort. However, I have faith that you can rise to the challenge!


In our pursuit of productivity, it’s not just about the tasks we take on, but also the environment we curate and the distractions we eliminate. An optimized workspace, continually refining our tools, and distancing ourselves from demotivators are pivotal steps towards achieving our goals. Remember, it’s a combination of working smart and hard that leads to true efficiency. As we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of work and life, let’s make conscious choices that propel us forward. With dedication, awareness, and the right strategies, the path to peak productivity is within our grasp. Stay focused, stay updated, and most importantly, believe in your journey.