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Feeling overwhelmed by your task list? Need help overcoming distractions? Here are some powerful tips for a productive day at work.

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Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

When Highly Sensitive People are prone to overstimulation, overwhelm, stress, and multiple distractions, it becomes difficult to get anything worthwhile done.

You must find a delicate balance and harmony with your sensitivity to achieve productivity in the workplace. It takes some self-evaluation and re-forming of standards and expectations. Most importantly, an attitude of honoring yourself and your needs.

In this article, we’ll share practical tips on how to create a productive day at work.

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Organization To Be Productive at Work

A tablet displaying a weekly planner is laying on a desk. Photo Credit: Jess Bailey
One option is using a digital planner

Organization is essential for anyone, not just a highly sensitive person, to be productive at work.

It begins with your workspace. Although some have a propensity to be tidier than others, it really does help to keep track of things if your space is clean and organized. Pick out some fun file folders, apps, or desk trays to keep your work on track!

Creating a to-do list is the next step. First, start with a brain dump. Because we HSPs absorb so much, it helps to clear out the endless thoughts by taking time to empty everything we are thinking about down on paper. Here is a wonderful example of how to do a brain dump to consolidate your to-do list.

Second, choose a few things that are the most important and/or have the most impact and schedule those to complete in a timely manner. If the thoughts of procrastination ring a bell for you, check out this blog post encouraging you how to create a to-do list.

Next, I most definitely advocate having a planner as a highly sensitive person to be productive at work! I love love love mine. It feels like journaling yet in a more structured way.

Whether you are more of a “plain Jane” or more inclined to colorful pens and stickers, keeping a planner with your goals, meetings, appointments, and deadlines will establish automatic precedence for productivity.

For instance, you may want to consider purchasing a bullet journal, which is ideal for the creative highly sensitive person. If you want a pre-structured planner, you may like this 2022 planner.

Time Management and the Highly Sensitive Person

Managing your time will allow for productivity, and help to eliminate overwhelm as a Highly Sensitive Person.

Anxiety and stress are induced when you forget important deadlines, rush at the last minute, work terribly long hours, or lose sight of how long a timely task truly takes.

As anxiety intensifies, the quality of work you produce deteriorates. Here is an additional article to help with time management strategies.

A tip to prevent overload is splitting up your day into sections. Think about four main blocks of time: Morning, Mid Morning, Afternoon, and Late Afternoon (that is if you work in a more common 9-5 setting).

Set goals to complete according to the blocks of time. Separate these blocks by breaks and lunchtime.

If working on a particularly daunting task causes nervousness, it may help to set a timer. Gather yourself with deep breaths first.

Next, work on the said task for an hour, 30 minutes, or whichever time amount you are comfortable with. It eases the mind to realize you are only in “performance mode” for a set period of time before letting your brain rest.

Who knows, once you begin you may end up wanting to continue the great work you’ve started!

Potential Sensitivities in the Workplace

It is so very necessary for highly sensitive people to self-evaluate.

If you have not already, recognize and honor your strongest physical sensitivities limiting productivity. Vocalize them to your colleagues or superiors if appropriate. You have a right to be comfortable in your work environment.

Many HSPs are sensitive to the lighting in the workplace. Others the level of noise, or the different aromas. Some prefer the sunshine from windows, while others are too distracted from activity happening outside.

Clothing also optimally needs to be comfortable, (remaining professional of course), but I’m referencing perhaps an itchy tag, snagging hose, blistering shoes, or a belt that digs into your skin provoking overstimulation.

Another potential sensitivity trigger is air quality. I know I am prone to severe dryness and harsh allergies in certain seasons.

Keeping a desktop air purifier or humidifier is advantageous. I also try to eliminate paper cuts on dry skin with hand cream, gloves, or adhesive. Those tiny cuts may be meaningless for some but for my sensitive hands they sure are bothersome.

Furthermore, the temperature of your environment also plays into how productive you are while working. Research shows “Thermal comfort has a strong influence on occupant productivity,” and I can see why!

Especially as a highly sensitive person, if I am shivering in my chair or sweating through my clothes it is ALL I can think about. Wearing layers really helps to control your body temperature if you cannot change the office thermostat.

When you feel optimal physically, focusing on work is ten times easier and boosts productivity.

Productive at Work by Eliminating Distractions

If you are reading this article about being productive at work, I assume you are a victim of distractions. Don’t fret – we all have our weaknesses!

Top distractions include cell phones, social media, office chatter, or even online shopping. Try to practice self-control. Referring to the time management paragraph above, if you block out your time appropriately there will be time for indulging in whichever pastime you fancy in the allotted break times.

That way you can be pleased with the results of your work time and your personal time. Some find it helpful to put in noise cancellation earplugs to concentrate on their work.

You could also (workplace permitting) use headphones with a “focus” playlist. These days there are all kinds of instrumental music genres researchers claim to promote productivity.

Importance Of Staying Healthy

I can practically hear some of you groan and grumble while reading this particular paragraph! But I will say it all day long- if you don’t have favorable health, you can’t accomplish anything worthwhile in the first place.

Now I am absolutely not referencing people with diseases, conditions, disorders, or disabilities when I speak of this. That is another matter entirely. I am talking about highly sensitives (like myself) who need a reminder every once in a while to take care of their body by making wise and healthy decisions.

A highly sensitive woman sits at a table for lunch. In front of her are several healthy options for her to eat, such as vegetables, yogurt, and juice. Photo Credit: Farhad Ibrahimzade

Let’s start with water. Did you know, that “Not only is providing quality drinking water an enforced law for businesses, but it is also a great way to ensure that productivity is at its highest levels?

By offering bottled water, a water cooler and disposable cups, or just a break room filtered sink, employees are sure to feel more like getting work done,” says this article.

Eating healthy food choices that create sustainable energy also enables you to be more productive at work.

Begin with an optimal breakfast, maybe munch on some helpful snacks in your drawer, then partake in a well-balanced lunch. All of these help your body feel nourished and stabilized, fueling your cells and brain and eliminating the distraction of hunger.

Lastly, your body and your mind will thank you for a little break from the workflow filled with physical activity. Anything from a walk around the room to a walk around the block to an actual workout during your break is incredibly beneficial.

Get those feet moving and that blood pumping! You will stimulate your mind to achieve better results in your work, not to mention ease your body from remaining in a particular position for too long a time.

Attitude For Being Productive at Work

The type of attitude and perspective you have to approach the workday ahead could mean the difference in productivity.

I find it naturally easy to see the beauty and positivity in situations due to my sensitivity. HSPs also absorb details and are capable of producing ideas and concepts others don’t consider.

As Dr. Elaine Aron states in her book, The Highly Sensitive Person, “HSPs tend to fill that advisor role. We are the writers, historians, philosophers, judges, artists, researchers, theologians, therapists, teachers, parents, and plain conscientious citizens. What we bring to any of these roles is a tendency to think about all the possible effects of an idea. Often we have to make ourselves unpopular by stopping the majority from rushing ahead. Thus, to perform our role well, we have to feel very good about ourselves. We have to ignore all the messages from the warriors that we are not as good as they are. The warriors have their bold style, which has its value. But we, too, have our style and our own important contribution to make.”

The key phrase in that quote talks about Highly Sensitives feeling very good about themselves. If you have confidence in yourself, you have confidence in your work.

Therefore, having confidence equates to delivering the important contributions we HSPs are responsible for. And at the heart of things, doesn’t contributing to something greater result in happiness? Being productive at work can achieve that.

I hope this article has been helpful. Comment below to let me know if you’ve applied these concepts or other tactics you’ve used to stay productive at work. Happy working, highly sensitive people!

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