Science Says This Will Boost Your Productivity
How do you feel when you glance around your office? Uplifted, ready to tackle the day, or… uninspired? If your lacklustre workspace has got you down, science suggests it could have a very real impact on your productivity. New research shows that everything from the colour of your desk décor to the position of your computer can impact your speed, alertness, and sense of satisfaction at work. Interior designers are even taking note, with firms such as Steelcase introducing office anthropologists to create smart spaces. Read on for eight super-easy ways to change your workspace to boost productivity.
You're not imagining it—toiling away under a piercing white fluorescent light is draining your productivity. Aside from being a design faux pas, cold fluorescent lights have been shown to reduce alertness. One study found people who spent their day exposed to warm, natural light are more responsive and able to concentrate on difficult tasks at the end of the day. If you don't have access to natural light at work, upgrade your bulb and style your desk with a chic task lamp.
We know that the color you wear to a job interview can change the way you're perceived, but what about your workspace? The same concept applies. Studies suggest styling your office with green accents encourages creativity while navy implies loyalty and confidence. If you're naturally messy, style your space in all-white—it exudes organisation and control.
Homepolish interior designer Matthew Cane says to tread carefully with colour in the workplace. "The aim is to add a punch of colour, without knocking out your clients," he says. Focus on changeable accents, such as a vase of fresh flowers or discreet accessories. "Colourful pens, pads or folders can also make a statement, without overpowering your workspace," he says.
If you spend the majority of your day staring at a screen, your desk makeover should include a digital phase, too. Email is a major productivity drain; One study found high-skill workers waste up to 28% of their workweek managing emails. To take control, schedule an appointment in your calendar once a week to do a quick digital cleanup. Organise your filing system and remove unnecessary clutter from your desktop screen. A priority filter is also a great way to declutter your inbox. Gmail's Priority Inbox finds and sorts important messages automatically to put an end to email distractions.
Simply adjusting the height of your chair could have a major impact on your workday. Position your chair so your natural line of sight is about two inches from the top of the computer screen. Make sure you sit roughly an arms length away from the screen to avoid eye strain, and position your keyboard so that your arms are bent at a 90-degree angle to avoid wrist strain. There's also a simple way to avoid screen fatigue. Try the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away from your screen for 20 seconds. It'll force your eyes to adjust and could help you stay alert.
If your desk is lacking in personal accents, science suggests that could be hindering your work. A Warwick study found that when people were exposed to images that made them happy, they were up to 12% more productive than those who worked in a sterile environment. Give your desk a personal touch with a refined frame. Opt for a marble or metallic finish that looks professional and polished.
The key to quickly completing a tough work project could be easier than you think. The University of Miami found that workers who listened to music were faster workers and even came up with more creative ideas. The type of music is crucial though. Create a playlist of songs in an upbeat tempo with no lyrics for the best effect.
Writing a thorough to-do list is a great way to start a productive day, but don't stop there. Go one step further by numbering your tasks and setting time limits for each. Allocating time for each task will allow you to map your day and give you achievable mini-goals to work toward. It could be the nudge you need when a mid-afternoon slump takes hold.
Styling your workspace with living plants has been shown to cause a massive 15% rise in productivity.Yes, simply adding greenery to your desk could help you work faster and feel more satisfied. When it comes to choosing a planter or vase, Cane says to keep it modern and minimal. Look for pots that keep the plant contained and hide dirt from view. "A clear glass cylinder vase with banana leaves or a white clean ceramic bowl with an assortment of succulents is office-appropriate and chic," he says.
What's your secret to being more productive at work? Tell us in the comments below.