When we talk about motivation, many will think that motivation is all about discipline, willpower, and mindset. And most people have neglected another important factor that can affect our level of motivation – environment. If you want to get and stay motivated, you can create an environment that allows you to do so.
Anne Thorndike, a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital published a study on how environment plays an important role in affecting people’s eating habits.
The study took place in a hospital cafeteria. Thorndike and her team wanted to help the people there to develop healthier eating habits without changing their motivation and willpower. And thus, they decided to change the environment.
The team then changed the way how the food was displayed in the cafeteria, and Thorndike called this experiment, “choice architecture”.
Before the change, there were 3 main refrigerators that were filled with soda. What Thorndike and her team did then was to add bottled water to the 3 refrigerators and also placed baskets of them throughout the cafeteria.
Over the next 3 months, the number of soda sales dropped by a significant 11.4% while the sales of bottled water increased by 25.8%.
Thorndike and her team simply changed the environment and then the people there naturally followed and affected by the effect of the change.
You can read the full study done by Thorndike and her team here.
This study led me to think about the environment that we are in. The environment has a bigger impact on our lives than you think.
When it comes to building success habits, people often believe that willpower and motivation are important, which is true, but they often forget that environment plays a vital role too.
Therefore, if you want to achieve outstanding success in life, think about your environment. Especially when it comes to building the success habits. Environment design is important because motivation and willpower come and go.
We need to build a motivational environment where we don’t have to solely rely on motivation and willpower to act on our goals.
How to Build a Motivational Environment for Better Work Performance
Like how Thorndike and her team changed the environment to stimulate healthier habits in the hospital cafeteria, you too, can change your environment to motivate you and stimulate higher work performance.
Here are some tips that can help you in changing your work environment:
1. Improve the overall physical environment
Ever wonder why people put up their vision boards, inspirational posters, and trophies in the office? Well, because they are the triggers that remind people about their work, their goals, and their dreams.
Even if you are working alone from the comfort of your house, you can still create a proper workstation to build better work environment.
You can put up vision boards so that whenever you see the pictures of the things that you want, you will feel motivated and want to take action.
A study has discovered that while a messy and disorganized desk promotes creativity, a clean and organized desk promotes productivity and focus.
Depending on your work purpose, if your work does not require much of your creative power, organize your desk to boost productivity and get more things done.
If you have to sit and work in front of your computer for long hours like me, get yourself a comfortable chair. And make sure you can sit in a good position because if it is not, the back pain can affect your mood and makes you less productive.
2. Stay away from distractions
Another important tip for managing your environment for better work performance is to get rid of distractions.
You don’t want to have distractions, so build a bunker and shelter yourself from any possible interruptions.
I hate it when I’m typing articles and when I’m in the flow, people come and disturb me. Thus, usually, I will just put on my headphone and play some light background music.
And more importantly, when I’m writing articles like this one, I keep my phone away. I put it in the room for charging so that I will not be distracted by the notifications.
If you are serious about changing your environment for better work performance, getting rid of your distraction is what you need to do.
3. Get a water bottle
You don’t have to go to the pantry or the kitchen to drink water. Just get a bottle of water and put it somewhere nearby or on your desk. Whenever you feel like drinking water, you can do so directly.
Here’s a study that states that drinking water can lead to the increase in productivity:
“The researchers tested 34 people after one group ate a plain breakfast and the other group drank water after breakfast. Subjects performed 14 percent quicker after they took a drink.”
You can read the full article here.
4. Use the location hack
You can always leverage on your environment and make it easy for you to take action on something.
For example, if you want to make it a habit to floss your teeth, put a floss next to your toothbrush. Every time after you brush your teeth, you can reach the floss and start flossing.
Here’s another good example. If you want to remind yourself to work on your blog, just make your blog the homepage of your internet browser. This way, every time when you open your browser, the first thing you see if your blog.
If you want to develop the habit of exercise in the gym three times a week, choose a gym that is location-convenient to you. For instance, you can choose a gym in the location between your workplace and your home. This way, you can save time and also get yourself to the gym easier. And make sure you put your sports attire in your car trunk.
You simply make the environment your friend and not your foe.
Make it easy so that you can take action and follow your plan to develop a good habit.
5. Change the environment by mixing with the right people
I know that you have heard about this over and over again, but this is so important because we become the people who we mix with most of the time.
Therefore, if you want to be successful, mix with people who are already successful in your industry. This way, you can learn and model their thinking, beliefs, and also learn the strategies of how they get there.
Jim Rohn was right when he said:
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
Change the environment you are in by changing the people you spend your time with. When you do, you will think and act like those who you mix with most of the time.
6. Introduce soft background music
Many studies have shown that working in silence all day doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the most productive option. Studies have proved that working with soft background music tends to boost our productivity and help us focus better.
However, it is important to note that some music can be harmful to how you work and actually decrease your productivity. This is because different types of work require different music.
If you are working out in the gym, it is good to listen to songs with lyrics that are fast-paced. On the other hand, if you are trying to listen to songs while typing articles, it can be difficult to concentrate because your mind will follow the lyrics and this makes you difficult to focus on your writing.
When I’m writing articles, usually, I will put on music without lyrics. Preferably, soft background music.
This article from Lifehacker shares with you how to choose the best sounds for getting work done. If you are looking for the right background sound to improve your productivity, read the article and find out which music or songs fit your type of work.
7. Make your workplace hip and fun
Another good way to make your work environment motivational is to include a little fun in the office. Sometimes, work can be mundane and stress, and having some kind of fun in the office helps a lot.
If your office is small, you don’t have to install a pool table or a table tennis. However, do make sure you put in some effort to make your workplace livelier and more fun.
In my previous real estate office, my boss put in a pool table, a dartboard, and a Wii game console so that all the property agents can enjoy and have fun whenever they want to.
If you are working from your home, get something like a beanie and a magazine or book rack. Whenever you feel stress, you can always sit back on the beanie and read a book or a magazine.
8. Segment your workstation with a different purpose
By now, you should know that different types of environment can affect us differently. Hence, we can make use of this to create a workplace for different purposes.
Our brains love habits and will try to associate certain characteristics with different places. For example, when we get into our bedroom, our brain knows that it is time to sleep. And when we get to your workstation, your brains know that you are ready to work.
Every morning when I sit in front of my computer after breakfast, my brain knows that I’m ready to write articles.
And if your workspace is big enough to accommodate 2 desks, you can use each desk for different purposes, such as one desk for writing content, and the other for marketing works like updating Facebook and schedule posts for Twitter.
You can also apply this technique to different devices that you used each day.
You can associate using the desktop for article writing, laptop for checking and answering emails, and use tablet solely for reading. This is exactly how writer Gregory Ciotti approaches his work.
9. Promote more walking
Steve Jobs, the late co-founder of Apple was known for his walking meetings. Even Facebook’s founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has also been found holding meetings on foot.
Here’s a study from Stanford you need to know about walking:
“Stanford researchers found that walking boosts creative inspiration. They examined creativity levels of people while they walked versus while they sat. A person’s creative output increased by an average of 60 percent when walking.”
Therefore, make good use of your environment. Regardless of whether you are working in the office or at home, incorporate more physical activity like walking into your daily work life.
If you are going out for lunch nearby your workplace, take a walk. When you stop your work for a short break, choose to walk and stretch your body.
This article from Redbooth states that physical activity like walking has 3 main benefits:
- Walking makes you feel happier about your work and life.
- Walking boost your creativity.
- Walking allows you to pay attention more easily and focus better.
Thus, walk more.
Our environment can affect our level of motivation and willpower. If you want to have the greater motivation, start by changing your environment and the way how you do your work.
Just like what BJ Fogg says, “designing for laziness”, where you make your workflow easy and smooth. In other words, you make things simple and convenient to act on so that you will have a higher motivation to do it and less procrastination.
Make it easier to do the things you want to do and make it harder to do the work that you don’t want to do.
So how do you change your environment for greater motivation? Share your ideas with me in the comment section below. Cheers.
Recommended reading: 10 Tips How to Build a Positive Work Environment for Solopreneur