Many things influence your energy, and therefore your daily productivity. Some you can control. Some you cannot. Your location – the space you occupy – is one of the things you can control. You will do better work in some places than in others. It’s that simple, and this dynamic, which we’ll call energy-space, is the theme of today’s post.
This is the follow-up to Maximize Your Productivity by Controlling Your Energy-Time, but even more empowering. You can control your space. You cannot control the time you operate in. So how do you sync the space you do business in with your energy level?
Before beginning, I would recommend taking a look at Scott Adams’ concept of personal energy in How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. I highlight it in my review here.
Space and Emotional Resonance
Controlling your personal energy level is often about controlling your emotions. Certain places will make you feel a certain way. It’s easy to dismiss the power that this has over you, as you likely think that you should make every decision logically. That isn’t how our species works, however. You can account for it or futilely fight it.
Your job, simply, is to pick the spaces most likely to connect you with the optimal emotional resonance to do the task you want done.
What does this mean? Sometimes, you’re in the mood for a more creative project. Other times, you’re better suited to doing drudgery (even if you don’t enjoy it). Still other times, you’re in a more social mood to make that needed or wanted call, and you’ll perform better on it because of your mood.
The space you occupy will have an impact on your mood.
You will not always have the option to sync your emotional energy with the space you occupy. There’s ultimately no substitute for sheer willpower when the situation requires you to use it. Sometimes you just need to tough it out. Given that willpower is a limited resource, though, it’s best for you to use it as a weapon of last resort. It’s far better to do what you want and need to do in a place that allows you to do it freely, without feeling like you’re working too hard.
Discover the Task, and then your Optimal Space for it
First you will need to determine the location that best suits the task at hand. For example, I do my best creative work when I’m outside. It could be in a park, by a river, or even in a busy courtyard. For some reason, the open space tends to make me both more creative and focused compared to when I work at home or in an office. Those areas tend to make me more distracted with pollutants like television, browsing on YouTube, forums, or social media.
That’s energy-space in action.
So if I’m writing or outlining something like The Fall of the Fated Queen, I’ll tend to do at least a little better there, even if I’m usually not in those locations at my optimal creative time.
When it comes to a professional project, things are different. My best location for something like that is indoors, but away from home, like at a library. For some reason, I am less tempted to browse the internet when I’m at a library. Not being able to listen to anything helps, even if it is simple just to put headphones on. I don’t know why this is. I only know it works for me. The energy of the library setting feeds back to me and makes optimal behavior more likely. My mood has shifted, so to speak.
How to Optimize Your Energy-Space
Think about the places you frequent, or maybe places you should frequent more.
What kind of work do you do? Where do you do it best? What is the setting that gives you the emotional energy that allows you to do more and higher quality work? Where will you be able to go on a frequent basis that will allow you to get more energy for the task at hand?
There are places. If you can’t think of any, you haven’t thought hard enough.
You will need to take your schedule into account. Though you can control where you are, you can’t always control where you are at what time. Try to fit your time and space to the tasks you need or want to do as best you can.
Don’t be afraid to experiment, either. You should always be exploring for places that give you a little extra ounce of energy. Great people in the past often did this. Fine-tune that energy by trying different tasks at different locations. You will eventually find a routine that will help you get more done than you thought was possible before.
Willpower Still Matters
Home is the most distracting environment for me. Inevitably, I still do most of my work there, though. There’s no choice but to get through those tasks. Sometimes, you just have to grit your teeth and get through it. Fortunately, you can calibrate your time to best match the task at hand.
Using time and space together, if possible, will help you get the most energy, and boost the quantity and quality of your work. It worked for me. It will work for you.
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