Is your environment productive?

Another beautiful Saturday to you, fuzzbutts! I hope you’re taking advantage of the weekend to do everything you want and feel good about it!

So you’re feeling good and ready to start doing stuff! But is your environment ready for you to do those things?

There’s articles out there that say all kinds of things about having the best work environment. Music is bad unless music is good. Cut yourself off from the world so there’s no distractions so put your phone outside the room when you’re working. Keep minimal decorations so you don’t get distracted but keep lots of decorations to stimulate your creativity. What’s the bottom line? Factors that affect your productivity are very personal to YOU. There’s all kinds of advice out there but I’ll start with a few basics.

Keep you work area tidy

Yes we all know that keeping everything clean is a pain. However, it’s hard to lay out all the things you want to do when your workspace is covered in junk. Sometimes, when faced with something daunting, it can put us off from wanting to do it. You want to draw but cleaning off your desk looks like a monumental task so you’ll draw later, once you’ve had time to clean up. The less obstacles we put in our own way, the more productive we can be. So clean off those areas (use your tail as a brush if you have to) and keep them that way!

Music or no music

This question is a little trickier. Some advocate silence and while others say some music is good to keep you in the mood. You’re the one who knows best but feel free to experiment. If you always listen to music, try some silence while you work and see if it helps. One things I’ve found helpful with music is that it shouldn’t have lyrics or tell a story because it can get distracting.

Realize what’s distracting you

Maybe you know what it is or maybe you don’t. Is a significant other in the same room doing something totally different that keeps catching your attention? Do you have a TV and find yourself staring at it? Find the things that seem to prevent you from working and then do your best to reduce those issues. Remove things that get in your way.

Find what helps

Sometimes we do need certain things around to keep us in the workspace. My own mind goes a mile a minute in silence about anything BUT the task I set myself to do. Music is helpful but it’s hard to keep me in my seat for long periods. Are friends helpful or do they distract you?

One thing that helps me the most is having friends around all working on the same thing. I had art friends where we could sit for hours together, even in coffee shops, and we’d just draw the entire time with a little chit chat. I’ve sat around with friends making fursuits, cutting up and sewing fur. As friends moved away, it became more difficult to just sit down and do something.  So I try to make friends with more artists and set up art jams when possible.

To keep my own fuzzbutt in my seat when I’m alone, I have my own environment to help. I open a reference image on my computer screen at my desk and then open a movie to the side of it. Then I push my keyboard away and put my sketchbook on my desk and start drawing. “WHAT?! That’s not productive!” you howl at me, voice dripping with the sense of betrayal. Fair enough.

Does the distraction of a movie slow me down in my pursuit? I agree it does. However, I’ve also experimented with a lot of things. I’ve tried to draw in my bed before I go to sleep only to find I never reached the bed until I was tired and then too tired to draw. I’ve tried sitting away from my desk and drawing on my recliner couch only to keep making trips to the computer for images or to fix the music. I’ve tried only sitting at my computer with the reference up only to get distracted by messengers and other things. Having a movie on keeps me from going to other social media and I keep drawing. Even if I only do 30 minutes worth of work in an hour, it’s still 30 minutes I wouldn’t have accomplished otherwise. Someday I do think I’ll be more comfortable with drawing to not have any distractions.

Only you know what really works for you and what works best

So try to honestly judge what you need to do to keep working. Being a little productive is better than not being productive at all. Out of all the advice out there, the only universal one in my opinion is to keep things tidy in your work area. It really helps. Anyway, try some new things and see how you react! Good luck, fuzzbutts!

Being Productive Takes Energy

For the first post, I felt it would be good to discuss having a good pool to draw your energy from. This means improving your lifestyle to get more done! It makes thing so much easier when you actually have energy for the various things you need to do. Below are just a few ways to help you feel better mentally and physically so you can accomplish whatever you desire.

Your Diet Is Holding You Back

Alright, fuzzbutts, there’s a hard truth to confront. Your diet is likely holding you back. Yes, the diet that has kept you alive to this point has also been one of the reasons you feel so lousy, frazzled, and overall UGH. The frustrating part is you KNOW there’s ways to eat better but it’s so much easier to take a complete meal out of the freezer and pop it into the microwave. I’m not saying you need to go full vegan or ketogenic or whatever. You DO need to start assessing and looking at what you’re eating and decide whether or not it’s actually worth eating it at the expense of your health. Start exploring easy ways to cook healthier food. A quick google search and you’ll be drowning in 10-minute recipes that are good for you.

Get Your Fuzzy Butt To Bed

“Sleep? Are you crazy, Wuffles? I have stuff to do! I can’t be productive if I’m asleep!” you say. “Lies!” I respond. Walking around like a stressed out zombie just means you’re taking way longer to just do a tiny bit of work. You have to sleep if you want to function. Important biological functions occur while you sleep, probably the biggest being the flushing of harmful toxins from your brain (Univ. Rochester Study). You can’t escape sleep, either, so why fight it? Your energy and mental clarity will be way better off if you stick to a routine which will make you more productive. I know those of us in school or working just love staying up late on Friday and Saturday nights, not having to get up on time the next day. Stop that. A regular sleep schedule leads to improved quality of sleep. There’re other ways to improve your sleep I’ll go into with later posts.

Moooooove

You knew this was coming. You might have cringed when I discussed diet but here’s the bad one. You need to exercise. You do. You know you do. So just do something. Enough with the multitude of excuses. Bad knees? Try some sit ups or push-ups. Bad neighborhood so you can’t run outside? Dress poor and run outside so you don’t get robbed OR just do some jumping jacks inside until your heart rate is up. There’s all kinds of things you can do. Think it’s all about cardio? It’s not. Weight lifting increases your muscle size which increases your resting metabolism, meaning you burn more calories by just existing with more muscle. The benefit of working out is that it snowballs. You can run on the treadmill and see you burned 300 Calories. What you also need to know is once you step off the treadmill, your body continues burning at a higher rate for hours (Afterburn Effect). This also applies to weightlifting since your body also goes into a repair mode for your muscles. Fair warning: You will feel hungrier than usual once you start working out, especially in the early phase. This often results to people eating more food than they usually do and the extra calories undo the work you just did! Prevent this by maintaining your portions and resisting the urge to have MORE. If you think your health prevents you from working out, then you’re wrong speak to a doctor who can help give a framework on how to start.

Simplify

I’m probably going to get into this a lot in many of my posts. We only have so much brainpower to dish out each day. Given that most of us have school or work, that’s going to be the big brain burner already so we need to ration what’s left! In future posts I’ll discuss ways to make things easier on yourself throughout the day but the gist is to assess where your energy tends to go during the day (How much time do you spend figuring out what to wear for the day? Do you have to decide every single day what you’re doing to eat? Is there somebody in your life who is constantly seeking your attention for a new crisis?).  Managing your mental energy lets you dedicate it to the things that really matter to you. For more about decision fatigue, check out this Wiki.

That’s all for now!

I sorta went a mile wide and an inch deep with this post because I do feel these are important enough to launch into right now and explore deeper as part of my future productivity posts. I hope my style resonates with you and I will make other posts a little more personal to my own experience rather than just lecturing you adorable fuzzbutts.