Breakthrough Performance Coaching for Small Business Owners

How Does Your Physical Environment Affect You?

How does your physical environment affect you
How does your physical environment affect you

How Does Your Physical Environment Affect You?

His piercing, listless eyes stared through the glass at me with just a tiny spark of curiosity.  Then the spark was gone.  It was Mother’s Day and our family was at the North Carolina Zoo in Ashboro, NC.  I had locked eyes with this magnificent chimpanzee and was feeling a little sad for him.  For a split second, I wondered, “What happened to you, buddy?”.  As a specialist in behavior, I’ve seen this look before.   There’s a strong connection between that spark that drives us and one’s physical environment.  So, how does your physical environment affect you? Let’s take a look.

Why Does Your Physical Environment Matter? 

Your performance and success depend on having order in your environment.  Your physical environment is anywhere you spend time.  Places that affect you most are your home, workplace, car, or garage.  We know it feels great to walk into a freshly cleaned house or office, but why?

Imagine your brain working like your computer.  When things are broken or out of place your subconscious mind says, “Danger, Will Robinson.” and takes a mental note to address the thing that is broken.  Even if it’s not important to you.  The energy it takes gradually builds as the environment takes up more of your mental RAM (read-access memory).  

Having your environment in clear working order releases the energy needed for collaboration, creativity, and seeing opportunities.  Opportunities are always there, when our focus is on something else we are unable to see them.  Unlocking that energy is the key to seeing new opportunities and choosing which ones drive success.  Your performance depends on it.

What’s Bringing You Down? 

If your environment being crisp is a necessity for success, then what’s bringing you down?  There are a number of environmental violators.  There are tangible and intangible environmental bandits.  Clutter, disorganization, physical placement of furniture, and incomplete projects are big ones.  Even project ideas that you are still floating in your head take up mental RAM. 

The physical violators are pretty easy to see and come in many forms.  As mentioned before, clutter is a huge detractor from creativity. Catch all tables and counters fill up and before you know it, you don’t even use them anymore.

The intangible violators are sneaky.  These are ideas of projects or a mental list of things to do.  This is basically mental clutter.  Great ideas turn into mental success inhibitors. 

With either version, tangible or intangible, these productivity inhibitors destroy your progress.  Getting them out of the way is key to success.  Then you can focus on habitually keeping them at bay with some simple practices.

What To Do About Your Physical Environment 

There are several things you can do to improve your physical environment.  Most of them are simple but require you to intentionally put focus on getting things right. Once you’ve gotten the “ship in order” you can begin to build habits that keep it in order.  Here are a few ideas to get you going.

Get Control:

  1. Sit in your office and make physical lists of things that are out of order.
  2. Organize them as incomplete projects or clutter.
  3. Calendar time blocks (1 hour) and focus on clutter first. 
  4. Assess the time it takes to complete the incomplete project, then double the time, and calendar the time when you know you won’t have to move the time slot.
  5. Keep an “Ideas Notepad” (yes paper) to write down project ideas when they arise.

Create Habits:

  1. Schedule 1 hour per week to address clutter. Chances are you won’t need the full hour after a few weeks.  Keep it anyways.  Taking it off the calendar will take you backward.
  2. Schedule 3-4 hours per month to address big improvement projects.  If it will take you more time, consider hiring someone to do the project (unless it brings you true joy to do the project).
  3. Schedule 1 hour per week to review your “Ideas Notepad” mentioned above and choose which ones you want to do when you want to do them.  Consciously choosing how to use your time, spend your energy, and achieve your success are key markers of successful leaders.  Be one.

Resources To Help

Addressing your environment even when you don’t seem to have time, can bring valuable energy back into use.  The amount of physical and mental clutter is actually a symptom of misalignment.  Misalignment can halt progress, inhibit success, and keep you from achieving your dreams.  Leading productivity author Barbara Hemphill says, “Clutter is nothing but postponed decisions.”.

Want help?

If you would like help assessing your environment schedule some time here.

Ryan McKinney

Ryan McKinney

Ryan is a leadership coach, sought after speaker, and transformational workshop facilitator. He works with highly successful business leaders to develop discipline, enhance leadership, and build confidence so they can enjoy the success they deserve without giving up what they want most.

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