Science Confirms the Best Way to Start Your Day

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Every day is full of important tasks, major projects, and personal errands that you can no longer afford to put off. And that’s just the beginning of your never-ending “to-do” list.

Oh, and your desk is a mess.

The question is: Where do you start?

While every situation is unique, and various factors will play a role in how you organize your day, there’s a scientific argument for tackling one of these tasks before the others, namely:

You should start by cleaning your desk.

Cleaning up your desk (or office, or closet, or room) is a surprisingly simple way to exercise emotional intelligence, the ability to understand and manage emotions. But what exactly are the mental and emotional benefits of cleaning up your desk? How can doing so help you feel better about the path ahead, and help you to make better decisions?

Let’s break it down.

The scientific case for cleaning up

As I listened to a recent psychologist’s lecture, a powerful statement stuck with me:

“Landscapes that are cluttered by obstacles produce negative emotion.”

In other words, when we’re trying to accomplish something, every obstacle that stands in your way makes your task harder. Which means, the first step in getting your day in order-; or sometimes even getting your life in order-;is to start with the first obstacle.

That’s what makes cleaning up and getting organized so effective-; because every obstacle you get out of your way helps you to think more clearly. In turn, clear thinking leads to emotional well-being. Additionally, the accomplishment of cleaning up gives you self-confidence and motivation that you can carry forward.

There are tons of scientific research to support this conclusion. For example, consider the following:

Through techniques like brain imaging, scientists at Princeton University demonstrated how a person’s visual cortex can become overwhelmed by clutter, making focus difficult. In contrast, when participants uncluttered their work environment, they were less irritable and distracted, and productivity increased.

A study by members of DePaul University’s psychology department found that by at least one measure, clutter was the best predictor of procrastination and that it interfered with a strong quality of life.

In 2009, psychologists at UCLA found that subjects who felt their homes were very cluttered experienced increased feelings of depression and were measured to have increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which researchers say can lead to negative health conditions.

As you can see, tidying up can positively influence your thoughts, emotions, and decision making. But how can you apply these learnings into your life?

Here are a few tips:

  • Start small. Start each day by taking a few minutes to organize your space. Or even better, do this at the conclusion of your day, so you start the next day fresh. Do the same for your computer desktop. Later, you can take more time to do your office or your home. Taking on a larger job, like organizing your office, or even your house, may seem overwhelming…so start only with what you can handle. Focus on the parts of the areas you use most. Use the five-minute rule to work on one small task at a time: promise yourself you’ll do just five minutes and quit if you feel like it. This is another psychological device that “tricks” your mind into getting started because the task now feels manageable-; but many times, leads to getting much more done than you anticipated.
  • Schedule “maintenance” time. Getting organized is one thing; staying organized is another. So, why not schedule time each day to spend on “organization maintenance”? You’ll find that just ten to fifteen minutes a day will work wonders for your productivity, and your mental health. In turn, this type of daily maintenance makes cleanup easier, so you’re not challenged with a huge cleaning project that seems too overwhelming to start.
  • Make cleaning fun. For teams and organizations, Bond Business School Professor Libby Sander recommends establishing regular “spring cleaning” days for departments or teams, complete with pizza. Doing so “can create social interaction and support around a task that most people don’t enjoy,” Sanders says. She also recommends instituting a “clean-desk policy” to help keep shared workspaces tidy-; you can do the same for yourself, or your own “teams” at work and at home, including your family.

And what if all these suggestions seem like too much?

Do what you can, one step at a time. Each action you take is another step forward, and that’s progress you can be proud of.

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a few minutes to organize your space.

Because the less cluttered your desk, the less cluttered your mind. By removing obstacles, you’ll also remove negative emotions-; and put yourself in a better state to handle the challenges that lie ahead.

Portions of this article originally appeared on the Inc. website.

The Sundance Company                                                                
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.6 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

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About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.6 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

Property Management Services from The Sundance Company

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Property management is a critical component of owning a commercial property. As a property owner, you must think about maximizing the value of your asset. And so does The Sundance Company. Our more than 40 years of Asset Administration experience in in the Boise Valley – Boise, Meridian, Eagle, Nampa, and Caldwell – allows us to offer you a high-quality alternative approach to traditional Property Management services. The Sundance Company team of commercial real estate professionals will:

  • Forecast the needs of the property
  • Help to reduce your interest costs and loan fees
  • Assist in reducing renewal costs
  • Provide opportunities for reduced insurance premiums
  • Offer significant operating expense savings
  • Understand owners’ objectives and tailor our Asset Management Plan to your performance expectations and building needs
  • Advise on financing, long-term planning, market analysis and capital forecasting
  • Allow you to focus on your core business objectives while we help reduce operating, legal and accounting costs
  • Perform high-quality services such as:
    — Full financial and reporting services
    –Security/fire/safety programs
    — Supervision and training of personnel
    — Contract administration
    — Standard operating procedures manuals
    — Building operations and maintenance
    — Customer and tenant services
    — Lease administration and management
    — Ongoing building and safety inspection programs
    — Annual customer and tenant surveys

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.6 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

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The Sundance Company                                                                
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.6 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

Is Monday Your Most Productive Day of the Week?

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You may be working for the weekend, but when it comes to actually getting work done, Monday is the most productive day, according to a study by Redbooth. The data collaboration software provider found that the highest percentage of tasks–20.4%–are completed on Monday, compared to Friday, when only 16.7% of work tasks are accomplished. Tuesday is a close second, accounting for 20.2% of work.

“Given the relatively low completion levels on the latter days of the week, it’s likely that Monday is the ‘catch up’ day at work,” according to the report.

Why Monday is Made for Working

Mondays are prime for work because they feel like a fresh start, says productivity coach Deb Lee. “When you’ve had the weekend to take a break, relax and regroup, you come back to work fresher than when you walked out the door the previous Friday,” she says. “We tend to tackle our work week-by-week, which means Monday can often be less stressful than say a Thursday or a Friday when those end-of-week deadlines are approaching. That stress-free, clean-slate feeling on Monday morning can inspire creativity and boost productivity.”

Focus is often at its highest at the beginning of a work week, adds Scott Amyx, author of Strive: How Doing the Things Most Uncomfortable Leads to Success. “On Mondays, you have a vantage point, looking at your priorities for the week and then appropriately applying your highest level of concentration to the hardest tasks,” he says.

Willpower might also be replenished on Monday, says Amyx. “For those who believe that willpower is limited, I believe that they do apply the greatest energy on Mondays,” he says.

Making the Most of Monday

The key to starting off the workweek in high productivity mode is being ready, says Lee. “You could prepare for the week on Friday afternoon, before heading home for the weekend,” she says. “Others look to Sunday evening as an opportunity to prep meals, pull clothes out for Monday morning, and check their calendars. It’s also fine to save your preparation for Monday morning—just be sure to set aside at least 30 uninterrupted minutes when you arrive at your desk to regroup and map out an action plan.”

Set up the week for success by not completely unplugging over the weekend, says Amyx. “Perhaps one of the biggest culprits to a stressful Monday is email,” he says. “Workers end up sifting through dozens of emails to come up for air hours later to find out it’s already lunch time. Give yourself permission to check once or twice on the weekend to quickly prioritize what’s urgent, important, lower priority or spam.”

Use your renewed energy on a Monday by blocking out time to focus, suggests Amyx. “Success comes when we do the things most uncomfortable,” he says. “Instead of acquiescing to your urge to check your email on Monday morning, time bound it to five to 10 minutes, not to answer emails but rather to quickly organize and prioritize. Then allocate the next one to two hours to do the hardest, brain intensive work without interruption.”

And cancel Monday morning meetings, suggests Mike Vardy, author of The Front Nine: How to Start the Year You Want Anytime You Want. “If your meetings are scheduled for first thing on Mondays and if you have any pull with your superiors then ask if it’d be possible to shift the meeting to later in the day,” he writes on his Productivityist blog. “Mention that giving each of your colleagues time in their own space before going into a meeting would allow them to be more ‘present’ in the meeting. If you are absolutely certain that there’s no way you can avoid that early morning Monday meeting, then make sure you prepare for that meeting the night before. That alone will make your Monday morning better.”

When you start to organize your Mondays by your priorities, productivity, and rewards then you feel great about your accomplishments, says Amyx. “There’s no greater satisfaction than knowing that you overcame the biggest, gnarliest cognitive, creative work to make significant progress on your project or tasks,” he says.

This article originally appeared on the Fast Company website.

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

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The Sundance Company                                                                
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.6 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

Can a ‘Connected Office’ Shape the Workforce of the Future?

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So, what is the “connected office”? Employees no longer feel motivated by just showing up for their jobs at 8 a.m. and leaving by 5 p.m.—they want to be part of the larger surrounding community, whether that be their office community or serving charitable organizations in the area alongside their colleagues. This increased community awareness has forced office owners to look for more ways to engage their tenants beyond the traditional and generic “canned goods” collection drives that lack the elements of human connection and authenticity today’s workforce craves. 

Health and wellness are other key pillars of the “connected office” experience. Office owners should be committed to the well-being of their tenants and act with their best interests in mind, through certifications such as WELL, LEED or Fitwel to help ease employee anxiety.

Why should property managers care? 

With the “connected office” model, tenants are also looking for property managers to go outside the walls of the building, with amenities such as walkability, greenspace, access to external amenities like dining and shopping options, and participation in give-back or charitable events. The No. 1 request we hear from tenants is walkability outside the building and amenitization on the inside, so their office is a true destination where workers want to be, even if they are given a hybrid work model. These social touchpoints support connectivity and inspiration and help create a thriving office ecosystem. The “connected office” strengthens aspects that can be especially attractive to future talent and retain current employees, which benefits all users of an office building. 

Property managers should also provide in-person or digital programming to get their tenants out of their offices and inspire collaboration in shared spaces, such as tenant lounges and breakout rooms. Landlords who make an extra effort to create connectivity and synergy within their buildings can contribute to the overall financial and personal health of their people.

How will it shape the future of the office? 

Not only are employers and tenants looking for connectivity between each other and the hyperlocal community, but with the building itself. Upgrades in property technology can allow users access controls using only their phone. Apps such as SwiftConnect, an office building software platform, allow users to digitize their buildings and give tenants access to temporary spaces throughout the country. 

Flexible space is also key. From large companies to smaller startups, flex office can cater to any size tenant’s needs and offers agility and attractive amenities. When office owners implement tenant engagement campaigns, foster opportunities for on-the-ground community service, upgrade their building technologies and provide flexible work arrangements, the “connected office” ecosystem creates a place where everyone wants to be, from property staff and onsite vendors to the C-suite and everyday employees. That future is now, and those who have the foresight to act first will be best positioned for the next chapter of change already underway.

Portions of this article originally appeared on the Forbes website.

The Sundance Company                                                                
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.6 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

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Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.6 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

Creating More Efficient Workplaces

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Maintaining focus is a skill and concentrating for long periods of time is not easy. In fact, research shows employees often feel this – 70% admit feeling distracted at work, and only 57% agree that their workplace enables them to work productively.

What does this mean for business? A research study on productivity found that U.S. workers were losing 2.1 hours every day due to distraction, which translates to 28 billion hours and $588 billion lost annually. The study also revealed that noisy workplaces and mobile phones are to blame for most of the distractions. Additional external distractions might include the smell of someone’s lunch, or the conversation colleagues are having a few desks over, while internal sources could range from not getting enough sleep to over-analyzing an earlier exchange.

Although workplace distractions can come in many forms, science shows there are steps architects and designers can take to create a work environment optimized for each employee to stay focused and feel comfortable. They can do this by considering the full spectrum of human senses – sight, hearing, feel, smell, taste, balance and body awareness.

The Power of a Human-Centered Design

Best-in-class organizations will need to balance the needs of the individual employee with the overall business objectives for a built space. Although it may seem obvious as we sit here in 2022, it’s important to look back at workplaces from the past to determine what we can learn from these eras of office planning.

A human-centered approach – being empathetic to people’s sensory uniqueness – reflects the philosophy that effective design should be informed by the occupants of a space. For example, the acoustic, textural and visual qualities of materials, furniture and lighting selections in support of specific typologies, influence how people experience a space. While highly textured and colorful spaces can help spur creativity, the use of soft surfaces and natural colors can contribute to a sense of calm. Specific behavior can be directed and supported by the appropriate combinations of design elements.

Integrating Sensory Design Elements into the Workplace

Designing for the individual means creating a range of sensory environments to address distraction issues and a lack of control on our surroundings in the office – this ultimately supports the cognitive wellbeing of employees. To do this, architects and designers must consider two main factors that influence an individual’s response to sensory stimulation – personality type and sensory profile.

Many modern psychologists work off the idea that there are five basic dimensions of personality, known as the “Big Five Personality Traits” or OCEAN model. These five personality types are: openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. Each personality type includes different traits and thresholds that shape how someone identifies with and responds to both their environment and colleagues.

Everyone has a unique and innate neuropsychological response to processing sensory information. The individual’s sensory profile influences their productivity and performance based on their current environment.

With such a diverse workforce, it is critical that work environments offer a variety of different spaces that cater to differing sensitivities and distraction levels (e.g. to different personality types and sensory profiles). Each employee can then transition through the different workspaces based on their preferences and changing sensory needs as the day progresses.  For example, people with different sensory thresholds may want to work in surroundings that include spatial considerations like acoustic privacy, adjustable lighting or temperature control. It is important to note that choice alone is not enough – there must be cultural permission to work on an exterior roof deck or sit in a wing back chair with your feet up.

The Role of Biophilic Design

As humans, we have an inherent attraction to nature and natural processes. However, more than 50% of the world’s population live in urban areas, where people often spend about 85% of their time inside. Through biophilic design, we can enhance occupant experience, health and wellbeing in the built environment by improving connections to nature.

Architects and designers can consider all senses when designing a workspace by employing biophilic design principles to bring nature into the built environment to help support general cognitive wellbeing. When applying this design approach to various “sub-spaces” within one office, it’s easier to create a working environment that supports the neurodiversity of different employees by providing areas that can accommodate all.

Within biophilic design, there is a scale of sensory stimuli to consider, from high to low. High sensory environments are more social, open and collaborative, with lots of sensory input and diverse activity, reminiscent of a rainforest. These spaces might include built-in ambient noise, kinetic sculptures, glass partitions, varying plants or more complex visuals, art and patterns.

In contrast, a low sensory environment is devoid of most stimuli, and often features low lighting, soft furnishings and as little noise as possible – almost reminiscent of a cave. A space like this would be partitioned and feature clean lines, reduced clutter, strong soundproofing and soft lighting.

By providing a variety of spaces across this sensory scale, employees gain more control of their surroundings and can help remove the need for practices such as a designated “quiet hour.” With textiles like flooring and upholstery, work environments can be equipped to support differing stimuli needs – for example, a very textural carpet tile style might be used in an open environment to provide high sensory cues.

Offering a range of spaces allows each employee to consider their own personal preferences and apply them to how they approach the task at hand, so they can deliver their best work.

Getting Back to Roots

In recent years, mindfulness and cognitive wellbeing have been top-of-mind for many members of the A&D community, especially when it comes to workplace projects. By taking inspiration from nature, biophilic design allows architects and designers to get back to the roots of human sensory behavior and puts the sensory control back into the hands of the employee, helping them establish a healthier working connection with the workplace.

Research shows this approach can lead employees to experience increased productivity and less anxiety, stress and burnout, while helping them feel more creative and innovative. Providing a choice of sensory spaces within the workplace is an opportunity for architects, designers and company leadership to help employees re-establish a healthy working relationship with the office during this time of transition. The future of workplace has never been more uncertain or more exciting.

Portions of this article originally appeared on the All Work Space website.

The Sundance Company                                                                
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.6 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

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Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.6 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.