Boost Productivity with an Office Make-over

Need a productivity boost? Take a good look at the space you’re working in. There’s something to be said for ambiance. As Dr. B.J. Fogg once said, "There’s just one way to radically change your behavior: radically change your environment."

Too hot. Too cold. Just right.

A study conducted by Cornell University found an increase in employee errors when the office temperature dipped below 68. On the flip side, the study indicated that room temps between 68 – 77 yielded a drop in typing errors and an uptick in output. Other studies show that a climate between 71-77 degrees improved productivity. If you’re not in charge of the thermostat, dress in layers (and consider sharing Cornell’s study with the person who does have temperature control).

Get the lighting right.

Florescent lights can kill your mojo, at least that’s what the research says. Natural sunlight can boost your mood and your productivity. What do you do if your workspace is running short on window panes? Add a lamp to your desk and invest in LED bulbs that mimic sunlight. Another option: when you’re feeling your energy and motivation wane, take a five minutes outdoors. Even a quick walk through the parking lot can give you a sunny recharge.

Tidy things up.

When the paper your to-do list occupies has run out of lines, taking time to clean your space is probably the last thing you think you have time for. However, working in a chaotic environment (organized or otherwise) is zapping your ability to be productive. Your desk should contain only the items you need to complete your task. The rest of it? File it away.

Nix distractions, but keep some close.

Odds are that in the time it took you to read this far, your phone has buzzed at least once for a text message or other alert, your email notification told you something new has arrived in your inbox and you had the fleeting notion that you ought to tweet something out about the great advice you’re taking in. Technology can be a useful tool, but it can also be a horrible distraction. If you need to be in the zone and focused, turn it all off. Shut down your email. Put the phone in a drawer and for Pete’s sake, don’t even think about checking your Facebook. On the other hand: Sometimes, particularly if you’re brainstorming or problem solving, a little something to get you looking at things from a new perspective can be helpful. A squishable stress ball, a brainteasing puzzle or even a set of colored pencils and a page to color, can give you a reprieve and a fresh approach. Research and productivity pundits have plenty of other advice for us: turning up the tunes, or going with no music at all. Paint colors. Plants in plain sight. The right rug. The perfect chair. The real sweet-spot is to identify the environment that works best for you. If your productivity needs a kick in the pants, take the time to create the environment that locks you in the zone.