If you’re like most workers, you don’t have much say over the larger aspects of your work environment. You don’t get to choose whether to work in a cubicle or an open-plan office, for example, or whether to sit near people who talk on the phone all day as part of their jobs (while you’re heads-down on a project and could use some quiet). But, there are some small things you can do, to improve your work space and aid productivity. It all starts with the basics: the five senses.
Think that gray wall is bringing you down? You could be right! Studies have shown that certain colors like white, beige, and gray tend to be blah for productivity. On the hand hand, a restful green or calming blue might have a positive effect on your mood and output. Ever been in a hospital and seen a lot of yellow? There’s a good reason for that. Yellow has been shown to boost feelings of optimism and creativity, while red makes your blood start pumping higher (maybe not great for hospital settings).
Obviously, you can’t show up to work with a bucket of paint and a plan, but you can surround yourself with splashes of soothing color by choosing your cubicle art with care.
You can’t throw a rock at the internet without reading something about essential oils and your brain. Turns out, smell is a pretty important trigger for productivity, and it’s easy to use in the office. Scents like rosemary, mint, citrus, and lavender can be helpful for boosting your brain powers, and they’re easy to come by in the form of oils and candles, but also teas and even foods. Before you go out and buy a smelly candle, though, be aware of your office policies on open flames, and your coworkers, who may not appreciate the scents you’re laying down.
Ever been stymied by a super cold work environment? You’re not alone! Turns out that when the thermostat is set to “stun,” your productivity also takes a hit. One study showed that being cold at work lead to more distractions and mistakes, which brings down productivity. The optimal temperature for great work? Around 77 degrees. If your colleagues prefer arctic climes, invest in a heater.
You may want to block out all that open-office nonsense with some noise-cancelling headphones, but don’t neglect “good” sounds too! Adding in some nature sounds (think babbling brook and bird noise) can actually help boost your productivity while you’re toiling away in the concrete jungle (or just the cube farm).
It should come as little surprise that when your input is junk food, your output is pretty junky as well. Healthy eating habits can definitely give you a boost, especially in the afternoon when you might be tempted to pull a Costanza and nap under your desk. Drink plenty of water and don’t forget your healthy low-processed foods like fruits and veggies along with “brain food” like Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and walnuts.
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