If you’re looking to improve your productivity, look no further than the room you work in. Your environment has a big impact on your job satisfaction as well as your ability to accomplish the task at hand. A thoughtfully-designed home office can increase motivation, performance and well-being, as well as reduce stress. Attacking your office with the below tips will help turn any room into a space that works with you rather than against your maximum potential.

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  1. Quiet Location

When selecting a location for a home office, an area “off the beaten path” that minimizes distraction is where you should start your search. There is a particular breaking point for the amount of distraction our brains can handle. Once you pass that threshold, you become completely unproductive. Andrew Lucker explains this succinctly when speaking about the reason programmers wear headphones when coding.  “Working memory is full of all the things that you are consciously aware of at any given time. That dog sniffing around, the music your deskmate is listening to, the meeting on your schedule, and everything else that you may be worrying about. These things fill your working memory, and are a huge drag on any attempt to work with the code in your head. Too many simultaneous distractions will effectively block any attempt to reach the glorious flow state of mind.”.

If you attempt to work near a blaring tv, kids playing, or a spouse doing the dishes, you are going to be constantly battling these distractions and wasting time trying to focus on the task at hand. By moving to a secluded location, you will not only increase your productivity, but you could also finish your work faster, giving you more free time to do other, more enjoyable things besides work. Bonus!

 

  1. Wall color

Wall color selection is an important and overlooked aspect to increasing productivity at home. Chromology, the psychology of how colors influence workers, has been the focus of companies for years. Colors can influence your behavior, mood and physical state, therefore contributing to how productive you are in that environment. Select the right wall color and automatically you will see a boost in your work productivity.

Red

Red is a stimulating color that according to a University of Hawaii at Hilo study increases your “heart rate, respiration and blood pressure”. Given that this color is a stimulant that will increase brain activity, it can be a good choice. A word of caution however, this color can cause overstimulation or rage, so it is best used as an accent color.

Blue

Blue falls on the opposite end of the spectrum. Where red is warm and stimulating, blue is cool and relaxing. This color will lower your heart rate, respiration and blood pressure. It clears thought, aids in concentration and relieves stress. A study by Nancy J. Stone and Anthony J. English at the University of Hawai’i at Hilo, found this relaxing effect by seeing blue as well.. But just like red, too much of a good thing can lead to a bad outcome. Blue can also cause sadness and depression, so don’t go crazy painting everything blue.

Green

Green is the soothing color of nature and it is no wonder that this color is associated with positive emotions as well as stress relief. Given these qualities, it is often used in institutions. It is also associated with wealth and money. As far as negative effects go, the wrong shade of green can sometimes cause feelings of uneasiness and sickness, so be careful…

Yellow

Yellow produces pleasant and cheerful feelings. It stimulates mental activity and generates muscle activity. Yellow’s downside? If overused, it produces a disturbing and unstable feeling as well as frustration.

Orange

A color that is associated with success, enthusiasm and happiness, orange increases oxygen supply to the brain and stimulates mental activity. Orange is a great color for injecting energy into your space. Con: it can make you hungry. Nom, nom, nom…

White and Neutrals

White is always a great choice. It makes a room look more spacious, reflects light well and gives the feeling of cleanliness. Neutrals or natural colors like brown, beige and grey along with white are best used in combination with the colors listed above. They keep your office from being overpowered by a color by toning it down.

  1. Scent

Sticking with the senses, you can also manipulate productivity by injecting scents into the air. A study by Jilly Welch showed that “unpleasant odors increase the heart rate and that, in turn, might increase stress levels and result in a loss in productivity”. By selecting the correct scents however, you can hack your olfactory system and increase focus and alertness as well as relieving stress.

Grab yourself an electric diffuser and some of the below essential oils and you’ll be on your way.

Allison Young wrote a great piece for OrganicLife on some essential oils that can up your game. Here are our favorites:

Frankincense

This woody smelling oil contains several sesquiterpenes which oxygenate and stimulate the limbic system. Frankincense improves memory retention and clarity and also has a calming effect.

Lemon

Want to increase your executive decision-making and motivation? Researchers at Ohio State found that you can actually improve your mood and increase levels of norepinephrine by using this scent.

Jasmine

Planning on making calls to potential customers? Jasmine helps you feel “on” and yet cool as a cucumber. By activating beta waves in the brain, Jasmine was even used by Chicago baseball players to improve hitting.

  1. Lighting

Selecting the right combination and type of lightning for your work environment can help you avoid lethargy, depression and headaches. A study on lighting by the Commission for Architecture & the Built Environment and the British Council for Offices found that proper artificial lightning as well as natural daylight can reduce absenteeism by 15 percent and increase productivity by as much as 20 percent.

Make sure to incorporate both indirect natural light with direct artificial light by focusing on these four aspects as recommended by K. B. Hower:

Lighting Level

High levels of light can improve attention while lower levels can enhance memory and focus.

Natural Light

Increase comfort level within an environment and combat sunlight-deprivation syndrome by introducing natural light into your space.

Placement Of Lights

Incorporate overhead lighting, desk/task oriented lighting and indirect natural light.

Surface Reflection

Avoid glare from screens and other surfaces to reduce eye fatigue and deterioration.

  1. Greenery

Adding plants to your office not only beautifies your working space, but also psychologically engages you. Plant life has been proven to make individuals happier and more productive, while all the while cleaning the air quality in which we breathe, increasing brain activity, and lowering stress hormones. For some concrete, convincing data, a Harvard paper showed that a green environment improved cognitive functions by a whopping 61%! If you have a black thumb, try selecting plants that require very little care and maintenance. Hgtv.com has a full list of “easy-going” and rather “forgiving” plants just for you. Here are several recommendations for some guidance:

  • Aloe
  • Snake Plant
  • Bromeliads
  • Jade
  • Pothos
  • Rabbit’s Ear
  • Rubber Plant
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Philodendron
  • Cactus
  1. Storage

Keeping your office organized and clean of debris will drastically improve your productivity and ability to flow through your work. Although everyone has a different method to their madness and requires different tools to accomplish their job, the Benjamin Franklin quote “a place for everything, everything in its place” should be your mantra when designing your storage solutions.

Give yourself space to work, declutter your desk and create structure within how you store your work as it moves from active to inactive projects.

Cabinets, shelves, files, folders and bins can all be utilized to help you turn your office into a clean and efficient workspace. If space is an issue, make use of vertical space and furniture that doubles as storage.

  1. Exercise Equipment

Avoid the sedentary behavior typically found in offices where sitting at your desk all day is the norm. By incorporating regular breaks and possibly even some workout band exercises into your day, you can boost your energy, metabolism and creativity.

Another option is to get a standing desk. These desks give you the ability to sit or stand and some even have treadmills attached to them so you can get your 10,000 steps while on the clock.

  1. Invest In A Good Chair

Sitting puts 40% more pressure on your back than standing and adds stress to your upper back, shoulders, arms and even legs. Because this position can have such a negative impact on your whole body, don’t settle with inheriting an extra chair from another room in your house and calling it your office chair. Purchase and then customize an ergonomic office chair for your body. This item is important for your overall health and productivity, so don’t take it lightly.

An ergonomic office chair is designed to hold your body in a properly supported position so that you can maintain good posture throughout the day. But buying an ergonomic chair only gets you halfway. You also need to position the chair to fit your body.

But before we jump the gun and purchase a chair, it is important that your desk has been selected. Desks can vary drastically in surface height and this height will determine the type of chair you acquire.

Once the desk’s surface height has been established and a chair has been selected, it is now time to set the chair for your body. Here is the 4-point checklist to help you get set:

  • While sitting in your chair as close to the desk as comfortable, place your feet flat on the ground and adjust the chair height so that your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. The back of your chair should push your lower back slightly forward.
  • Place a prop under your feet to slightly raise your knees higher than your hips to reduce pressure on your lower back.
  • Rest your arms on the surface of your desk (or keyboard) and adjust the armrest height so that your arms are bent at 90-degrees as well and your shoulders are relaxed.
  • Tuck your chin in and keep the crown of your head tall (while maintaining a comfortable position). Your eye-level should be setting your gaze at the center of your computer screen.

If you are looking to gain an edge and increase your productivity, these tips are a good jump off point. Setting your environment up to help you best achieve your goals will assist you greatly rather than conversely being a constant drag on your ability to perform. If you’re looking for more ways to gain an edge, check out our post entitled 4 Productivity Tips That Every Sales Professional Should Look To Follow.

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