Inspiration and productivity are basically a file folder away. 

By Leslie Goldman
Updated December 06, 2017
Framed art leaning against a wall
Credit: tomap49/Getty Images

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Framed art leaning against a wall
Credit: tomap49/Getty Images

1 Update Your Inspo Board

In a survey of LinkedIn professionals conducted by the photo-art company CanvasPop, 77 percent said art in their work space made them feel happier, 74 percent said it made them feel more inspired, and 37 percent said it made them feel more relaxed. That framed Frida Kahlo photo or “Today is tomorrow’s yesterday” quote can totally pump you up—until it doesn’t. “If you keep the same ones up too long, they lose their spice and turn into white noise,” says Driskill. Rotate in new artwork or sayings every few weeks to engage your brain and stay motivated.

2 Move Your Desk

We tend to position our desks near a window, for both natural light and the chance to tap nature as our muse. But light streaming in from behind the computer screen can lead to eye fatigue. And if your back is facing the window, sunlight can wash out images on the screen, making you squint. Reorient your space so windows run alongside the desk and computer screen.

3 Organize by Time Frame

Clutter overwhelms the visual cortex, the area of the brain that processes visual information. A messy desk, then, means your brain has to work harder just to accomplish the same tasks. Josel recommends dividing your desk elements into past, present, and future. The past is anything you don’t regularly use (old but important papers, for instance); move those items to a file cabinet or storage box. Prime desk real estate goes to the present—things you need now, like your computer, pens, journals, paper. Direct future gear (extra supplies, stationery) to a nearby shelf or bookcase.

A reassuring caveat: Achieving a totally clear desk isn’t just difficult; it may be counter-productive. “We need a certain amount of clutter to operate normally,” says Princeton University neuroscientist Sabine Kastner, MD, PhD. “A completely sterile desk area is depressing—the brain needs some stimulation to be productive.”