When talking about productivity tools, the same words usually pop up in the conversation:
Inbox management tools, project management tools, to-do list apps, calendar apps, trackers, planners, pomodoro timers, bookmarking tools, automation software, and so on.
While these would no doubt help you work more, consider the other tools that help you work better.
The "tools" I'm talking about may, at first, seem to be mere additions to your workspace and are easily overlooked. But upon deeper reflection, these really help increase your motivation, improve your mood, and create an ideal environment for you to be productive.
In today's post, I'm sharing some tools that work for me in hopes of encouraging you to think of the tools that help you be more effective and efficient as well.
Disclosure: Some links below are affiliate links which means if you click and purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Of course, I only recommend products that I use, know, or trust. Enjoy!
In no particular order, here are 10 surprising tools that increase my productivity.
01. Inspirational art
I'm the kind of person who responds well to motivational words or beautiful artwork. You could be different, of course, but for me, oftentimes all it takes is a quote or stylish poster to get me fired up and ready to take on my day. And so, coming from a desk job at a grey and white office (in the accounting department no less!) and as soon as I started working from home, I made sure to add art in and around my workspace that resonate with me.
02. Textured Rugs
Aside from visual stimulants like prints or posters, I noticed that having rugs in my home office also help with my overall mood and motivation. When you spend all day typing on a metal laptop and sitting on a structured desk chair, the texture of the rug fabric helps bring comfort to your area and break up all the stiffness.
03. Gel Pens
No matter how many apps or different kinds of software I use, I still keep a regular paper planner/journal with me. And for all the other pen enthusiasts out there, I'm sure you'll understand when I say that the pen you use makes a real difference, am I right? Personally, I love gel pens.
Try these: Muji black gel pens
04. Scented Candles / Aromatherapy Oil Diffuser
I love having scented candles and a diffuser in my home office. For those of you who are sensitive to smells, these are great but simple ways to tweak your space to further motivate you to work. I recommend lavender, lemon, or jasmine -infused scents which are reported to help with relaxation, concentration, and optimism.
05. Dark Chocolate
When I started working from home, I noticed that it was all too easy to just walk to the fridge or have food delivered at any time of the day. Instead of eating at irregular times everyday, what I found helpful is to plan out and schedule my meals and snacks. And since I still need to satisfy my sweet tooth, I started opting for dark chocolate instead of other less healthy sweets (sorry, Sour Patch Kids!) that would make my energy levels crash suddenly.
06. Meditation and Focus Apps
I developed the habit of meditating two years ago and it's been a game-changer for me. I was skeptical at first but now, it's my favorite way to ease into my workday after my morning routine and prepare my mindset.
I also like to use focus apps which produce timed ambient noise that helps me avoid distractions and focus (obviously) on my work for a set period.
07. Chess app
I schedule short but frequent breaks throughout my workday to avoid burnout and one of the activities I love to do is play chess on my phone. Because chess requires concentration, it takes my mind off what I'm working on for a while. And since all games I play are timed, I use the end of one 5-minute game as a signal to tell me my short break's over. Plus, winning a really close game immediately gets me fired up to "win" at work, too!
Try this: Chess.com app
08. Audiobooks and Podcasts
I don't know about you but I've got a long reading list and while I prefer the hard copy, audiobooks are an easy way to learn information especially during my workdays. Oftentimes I'd listen to inspirational books or podcasts and immediately be motivated to create and take action.
09. Foam Roller
You know how it is. The more stressed and overworked you are, the less you get done. Your muscles stiffen up and your back starts to hurt from sitting on your desk chair all day and so for days that I can't get a massage, I turn to my trusty foam roller instead. My problem areas tend to be my mid and lower back and I prefer using a textured one but there are regular, less painful ones too especially if you haven't used these before.
Try this: Textured foam roller / massager
10. Tea, Juice, or Sparkling Water
Since I've been trying to cut down lately, I only drink one cup of coffee in the morning and for the rest of the day, I drink iced water, tea, juice, or sparkling water, which people tell me is better than coffee. These keep me up and energized without as much caffeine or the accompanying caffeine crash.
Three more surprising "tools"
- Inspirational passwords. I changed my passwords recently to variations of inspirational words/phrases to motivate me and I encourage you to do the same. Try something along the lines of "You*Got_This333," "IfNot_noWWhen123," or "#woRk_Smarter111." Of course, just make sure it's a strong password.
- Plants. There are a lot of plants that could live in an indoor workspace. You could choose the ones that require less tending and sunlight but still provide many benefits such as cleaner air and more humidity. Try philodendrons, spider plants, or snake plants.
- Sunlight. Since I moved apartments recently, I noticed the difference a sun-lit workspace really makes. (My previous home office was well lit but it was from artificial lighting.) Simply placing my desk right beside a window really increased my mood and therefore, my productivity. An awesome view outside helps a lot, too.
Now, I encourage you to take note of the things around you in your workspace or home office. Which of those tools, apps, or materials might seem unrelated to your productivity but in reality, make you very effective and efficient? How else can you make your surroundings add to your overall mood, motivation, and productivity? Share your answers in the comments below.
Remember, the tool doesn't have to always make you work more. Instead, choose the tools that make you work better.