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Designing your Workspace for Focused Productivity

Why this works: Your brain picks up cues from your environment, so creating a workspace that encourages focus will help your brain get into work mode. That means minimizing distractions as best you can. 

How to do it: You might not be able to control every aspect of your workspace, but here are some things to consider if you have the option.

Physical workspace

  • Close the door to reduce interruption.
  • Sit at a desk or table where you can spread out your materials.
  • Remove anything from your workspace not related to the task at hand.
  • Use a chair that is comfortable, but not so comfortable you’ll fall asleep in it.
  • Wear ear plugs or listen to background music (so long as it’s not disruptive) to reduce ambient sound distractions.
  • Let others know in advance when you’re available to talk and when you’d like to be left alone to study.
  • If you’re working in your room, make your bed to reduce the temptation to work in it or to take a counter-productively long nap. (If you do decide to nap, try to keep it under 20 minutes.)
  • Provide yourself with healthy things to drink or snack on.
  • As tempting as it is to work in your pajamas, this may not be conducive to feeling committed to the exertions of learning. So, get ready for the day as if you were leaving the house.

Digital workspace

  • Turn off all phone and computer notifications
  • Close unnecessary tabs
  • Use multiple desktops to organize your workspace
  • Maximize the window you’re working in
  • Try a focus tool or productivity app; see our apps and tools page for ideas
  • Schedule time for the things that usually distract you, like email or social media
  • If necessary, use an away message for email or messaging apps