Genuine Curiosity

Author Dwayne Melancon is always on the lookout for new things to learn. An ecclectic collection of postings on personal productivity, travel, good books, gadgets, leadership & management, and many other things.


Stand up & ditch bad habits: Ways to improve creativity & productivity


Productivity — an overarching term, for sure, and your productivity can be increased or reduced by various internal and external forces. Whether it's an ambitious personality, lifestyle habits, elevated work expectations, or an innovative environment, the level of sustained work productivity is influenced by a lot of factors. For creative professionals such as writers and graphic design experts, maximizing creativity and improving productivity are essential for a successful career. The good news?  Changing your environment and breaking norms can help enhance your productivity and creativity.

Stand-Up Desks & Walking Stations

Most of us have experienced the fatigue of sitting at a desk in front of a monitor for a long time. Extensive studies confirm that a sedentary lifestyle is linked to a shorter lifespan and increased risk of certain diseases, high-cholesterol levels, blood clots and inflammation. Prolonged sitting is harsh on your body and exhaustive, and those of us who are slaves to desks and computers are reminded of the health risks.  So what can we do about it?

I've been thinking of replacing my traditional desk with an adjustable-height desk.  I think it would be a fun change of pace, but I've also been reading about some of the health benefits of standing desks.  For example, Dr. Ron Joine (vice president and medical director of GlaxoSmithKline's environmental health and safety group) says that standing while working stimulates the mind, increases energy levels and can burn up to 200 calories per day.

Change is good, too.  I've been reading that it is healthy to switch things up by using different ways of working, such as standing desks, traditional desks, walking stations (treadmill desks) and desks with yoga balls. The notion is that by moving around more, your productivity and efficiency will increase, which also boosts morale, optimizes health and sparks creativity.

For a long time, I've found that if I stand during conference calls I am more focused and the calls are not only more productive, they tend to wrap up more quickly - less wasted time, in other words.

Performance Norms & Habits

Sitting vs. standing is only one dimension of this - you can reduce periods of low productivity by breaking bad habits, revamping your routines, changing up norms and setting more aggressive goals for yourself.

As a leader of a team, raise "the bar of performance expectations by setting elevated goals" and measure performance progress, says contributor Jack Zenger, a strengths-based leadership development expert. You can start by assessing where you are -- give yourself an honest performance evaluation. How would you rate your ongoing level of productivity? Mike Myatt, Managing Director of N2grwoth, tells that he gives himself "hourly gut checks." For 20 years, Myatt asks himself every single hour, "am I doing the most productive thing possible at this point in time?" If the answer is no, change gears an focus on something productive. I think this is an interesting approach to make accountability a person habit.  If you want to do this, a timer (on your computer, or a kitchen timer) can help remind you to ask yourself this question.

Create new, productivity-enhancing norms such as:

  • Fuel up in a healthy way and nourish your body with nutrient-rich foods. Focus on how superfoods make you feel. Eating sugary or fatty foods in large portions makes you feel sluggish and dulls the brain. Sharpen your mind and creativity with vitamin and nutrient-rich fuel.
  • Maintain a productive workspace that's free of distractions and clutter. Keep your desk minimally decorated and you're less likely to "drift off" while you work. Is your desk optimized for work and focused intention?
  • Make small changes to feel refreshed and eliminate the mundane. Recharge by changing anything from the type of coffee you drink and lunch you eat to the light and sounds of your surroundings. If you have the luxury to work from home, add some variety by occasionally working at the library or different coffee shops as a change of scenery.

What about you?  Do you any tips and tricks that help you feel more productive?  Have you switched to a standing desk?  I'd love to know what is working for you.