“The more disciplined your environment is, the less disciplined you need to be,” wrote Atomic Habits author James Clear in a recent newsletter. “Don’t swim upstream.” Oftentimes, both the physical environment that surrounds us and our emotional environment can have a direct impact on our stress levels, our focus, and our productivity. And as we think about how we can prime ourselves for success, it’s critical that we ensure the space around us helps to support our goals.
We asked our Thrive community to share one way they prime their environment to help them reach your goals, whether professional or personal. Which of these will you try?
Move your desk to face the outdoors
“I’ve moved my desk to face my backyard, where I make sure to have the bird feeders and suet cages filled so that I can always be around nature and enjoy the outdoors. It’s uplifting and energizing to watch the birds and the squirrels while I work. I also have my stationary bike and arm weights in the same room so that I can pedal when I have to join a Zoom call or watch a webinar.”
—Peggy Schipper, chemical business management, Wayne, PA
Hang up meaningful photos
“This year has reminded me just how full and rich my life is and I wanted to give myself more visual reminders of all the joy I have to be thankful for. I put up a gallery wall in my office with photos of past trips and meaningful art projects. They’re all placed in areas that I can see throughout the day, and they help me reset when things get stressful.”
—Jamie Sewell, technology consultant, Tampa, FL
Keep your workout clothes on your nightstand
“To encourage myself to keep up with my exercise routine, I keep my workout clothes on the nightstand in my room before I go to bed each night. This way, I get up in the morning, shower, feed the animals, and go out for a five-kilometer walk. The simple act of having the clothes be there as a reminder when I get out of the shower makes a huge difference, and I find it easier to get out the door.”
—Amanda Renwick, freelance HR and management specialist, Johannesburg, South Africa
Try “Marie Condo-ing” your space
“One way I’ve primed my environment to support a bright new year includes ‘Marie Kondo-ing’ my entire home. I’ve decluttered the cabinets, drawers, closets, bookshelves, and trunks. If it is in my home, it has been cleansed and re-organized. Books and sheet music are categorized by topic. Pens, pencils and markers are separated. Office drawers all have a purpose. And everything is organized by function so that if I’m mailing a letter, I have envelopes, stamps, a pen and return address stamps all grouped together in one area so I have less things to look for.”
—Jamie Sewell, technology consultant, Tampa, FL
Stick motivational notes on your computer
“A few weeks ago, my boyfriend put a sticky note on my big monitor with the quotes ‘Say Yes,’ ‘Show Confidence,’ and ‘You Got This.’ These notes have been so impactful that I now carry them around in case I take my notebook to work on the balcony.”
—Renata Gomide, strategy and consulting principal and founder, Bay Area, CA
Shift your desk away from the wall
“I have recently moved my desk to the middle of the room, so I am no longer facing a wall while I work. This has been a huge game-changer for me. I am also near a window, so I can hear the birds in the morning! As far as finding ways to become more efficient, I periodically turn my email off so that I’m not easily distracted when I need to finish a time-sensitive task.”
—Yvelynd Somerfeld, CPA, Los Angeles, CA
Add a scent to your workspace
“Every morning, I add a few drops of bergamot or geranium oil to an oil burner, which are both uplifting and invigorating fragrances. I find that scent is a wonderful way to encourage focus and productivity during the day. It can be a powerful stimulus to prime your brain to know that you are ready to work. It’s a simple ritual that not only calms me, but also helps prime my working environment to be a more pleasant place to be. It’s a small Microstep that helps me reach my goals.”
—Michelle Ogundehin, writer, Brighton, U.K.
Keep your yoga mat visible
“To keep my workouts consistent during the pandemic, I have scheduled a set time on my calendar each day and keep my yoga mat out so it encourages me to work out, even on days when I’m not super motivated. It’s worked so far!”
—Cindy J., executive search and human resources consultant, Boston, MA
Create a reading nook
“I love to read, but during lockdown, it seemed difficult to make time for it on a daily basis. I decided to build a little reading nook on my balcony and initiated a new daily ritual where I prepare some Indian chai tea and sip on it while reading. This cozy nook has not only inspired me to read more, but has also invited me to a world with limitless possibilities, wisdom, wonder and awe. The little tea ritual alongside it helped me build the discipline to carve out the time.”
—Isabella Fernandes, quality manager, Mumbai, India
Give yourself room to move around
“I set up my space so that there is plenty of room to move around and dance whenever I’m inspired or need a break to recharge. It allows me to refocus, have fun, and get creative instead of being drained and tense because of everything I need to get done. This change has helped me grow my business without burning out.”
—Orit Krug, dance and movement therapist, New York, N.Y.
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