6 Easy Ways to Be More Productive at Your Desk

Advertising Disclosure: When you buy something by clicking links on our site, we may earn a small commission, but it never affects the products or services we recommend.

An older man sits at his desk
goodluz / Shutterstock.com

Some people prefer controlled chaos, while others need nothing more than a laptop and coffee.

The state of your work environment largely depends on the nature of your work and personal preferences. However, just because you have everything you want within arm’s reach doesn’t mean your workspace enables you to be as productive or efficient as possible.

Factors like ergonomics and lighting can significantly impact your ability to focus.

To be sure you are getting the most out of the time you spend at your workplace or home desk — or both — consider making these changes:

1. Avoid glare

Glare causes eyestrain — which can lead to headaches, blurred vision and difficulty concentrating.

To reduce glare, the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends turning your computer monitor away from windows.

If you don’t have the luxury of changing your computer’s positioning, put an anti-glare or privacy filter on your screen. Or, if you’re on a tight budget, the Oregon OSHA notes you can tape cardboard around your monitor to reduce glare.

2. Light the room blue

Using your phone or computer before bed can keep you awake. Studies have found that the cool, blue-hued light emitted by the screens of such electronics can suppress the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin.

While that blue light isn’t conducive to bedtime reading, it can certainly help you with work. Studies show that blue light can increase alertness for both day- and night-shift workers.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital researchers behind one recent such study recommend using a blue light-emitting lamp. The Philips goLITE BLU energy light is an example of this type of product.

3. Organize your space

Controlled chaos comes at a cost: time spent searching for misplaced or missing items — and the stress that can come with that chore.

To avoid lost time, tame your paperwork and take advantage of aids like desktop organizers.

Also, make sure you arrange desk accessories efficiently. Keep the things you use most often within arm’s reach. Store items you need only occasionally in a drawer or beyond arm’s reach.

4. Invest in a good chair

Working from home sounds glamorous until you find yourself sitting in a hard, straight-back chair at the dining room table all day. The outlook isn’t much better in the common office cubicle, either. Office chairs are often oversized and worn out.

Soon, your back aches, your shoulders are sore, and you constantly have a crick in your neck.

The right ergonomic desk chair can fix all that.

The Oregon OSHA outlines the best features for a comfortable desk chair. They include a:

  • Base with five prongs
  • Backrest height of 15 to 20 inches
  • Backrest tilt of 93 to 113 degrees

If a new chair is not in your budget, the Oregon OSHA notes these no-cost improvements:

  • If your chair backrest doesn’t adjust, put a pillow between your back and the chair backrest to create support for your lumbar region — your lower back.
  • If your chair height doesn’t adjust, put books under your monitor to raise it. For optimal ergonomics, you should be looking at the top third of the screen. In other words, your chair and monitor should be situated such that when you sit at your desk, your eyes are parallel to the upper third of your monitor screen.

5. Listen to music

Do you whistle while you work? It turns out tunes can have a positive effect on productivity.

A recent survey from the staffing firm Accountemps found that 71 percent of employees who work in office environments say they are more productive when they’re listening to music.

Of some 1,000 U.S. workers polled for the survey:

  • 39 percent said they are much more productive with music.
  • 32 percent said they are somewhat more productive with music.

The survey did not determine why most workers consider themselves more productive when listening to music. However, Accountemps did note that pop, rock and country songs had the biggest impact on productivity.

6. Find the right keyboard

Any kind of pain or discomfort can easily interrupt your workday. So, for the same reasons that you should invest in a good chair, consider finding yourself an ergonomic keyboard.

These uniquely shaped keyboards are designed to alleviate strain on your wrists and fingers.

Once you’ve got your keyboard set up, click on over to “The 11 Best Keyboard Shortcuts for Boosting Productivity.”

For more productivity pointers, check out:

What keeps you comfortable and focused while you work? Leave your best productivity tips below or share them on our Facebook page.

Get smarter with your money!

Want the best money-news and tips to help you make more and spend less? Then sign up for the free Money Talks Newsletter to receive daily updates of personal finance news and advice, delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for our free newsletter today.