I write a lot about gadgets, tools, tips, and tricks for productivity. Those things are important for productivity, but there is one aspect that I often take for granted that is a huge factor in productivity: your environment.
I live in the Pacific Northwest of the US, and this time of year we see a lot of short, gray days. I've noticed that the weather here can affect my energy level, concentration, and focus. The good news is I can do something about this by altering the environment where I work to tweak the color, lighting, and layout around me -- and you can, too.
Colors have been used to subtly influence emotion and productivity for centuries, dating back as far as ancient Egypt and China, according to About Education. Having the right colors in the right rooms has been shown to affect both your mood and how detailed or creative you are, explains Return Customer. For instance, colors like blue and green can increase your creativity and imagination while reds can stimulate, excite and increase your attention to detail and reaction times. Yellows and oranges can brighten a room as well as the mood of those within. Blues are great for conference rooms so as to boost friendliness and brainstorming. On the other hand, reds are often used in entryways to instill a feeling of power and excitement.
However, too much of any color can have negative effects. For example, a lot of yellow can be distracting and over-stimulating, and darker reds are often associated with anger and anxiety. Before you start painting, take a look at your workspace to see where you can incorporate new colors without going overboard.
The right lighting can have a dramatic effect on productivity and effectiveness. A study by the California Energy Commission shows that the use of natural lighting can result in a 20 percent increase in productivity and a 25 percent boost for your mental functions and memory.
But again, it’s all about finding the right balance. Too much direct lighting can create glare, leading to headaches and other difficulties. To give you more flexibility, install custom shades that can control the amount of natural sunlight coming in and can impact the room temperature, which can lead to lower heating and cooling costs.
After you work on your colors and lighting, look at the layout and condition of your office furniture. Not only should your furniture be comfortable and in good condition, but it also should fulfill whatever needs your office has. Look for ergonomically-designed chairs, desks and furniture to help you stay safe and comfortable at work.
Additionally, make sure that the layout and flow of your office works for you. Don't just focus on how the office looks but also how effective it is for your overall
Of course, a lot of these thoughts pertain to the office I work in. There is another way to change your environment: change your location.
I use a lot of mobile devices (laptops, tablets, etc.) to get work done, and I also get an energy and productivity boost from getting up and moving to a different location from time to time. For example, I often work out of a library or coffee shop, and I really like the change of pace. That approach is also a lot faster than remodeling your workspace, so it can really help in a pinch.
What about you? What kinds of changes have you made that have enhanced your productivity?