In the past years, the definition of a workspace has significantly changed. We work at home, in the office, in cafés, and even on work dates at friends’ places. Wherever we work we can use a couple of effective tricks, based on science, that help us increase productivity, focus and creativity. Optimising our workspace also helps against brain fatigue and overloading our minds. Below you will find a list of the most effective steps you can take to level up your office and improve your work mode. Don’t worry, none of these requires you to purchase any fancy gadgets or futuristic massage office chairs.
Bring nature into your (home)office
Being surrounded by plants improves our mental well being. We spent most of our time in an office space, which can be significantly draining if it carries the vibe of a 90s New York office cubicle paradise. Surrounding yourself with plants and flowers helps emotional regulation and increases memory functions. A study on the cognitive benefits of natural elements in an indoor environment concluded that plants in an office can elicit positive health outcomes such as relaxation, lower blood pressure and less restraint on the cognitive system.
Besides the relaxation, having lots of plants around the workspace helps produce cleaner air, and it motivates employees to be more energetic and creative. By now you must have come across the images of office buildings being transformed into jungles. We can only imagine the creativity that sparks in such places. So, start today and find yourself a green friend for your desk. If you are an HR manager, consider allocating some of the office budgets to add some green to your workspace, you will be surprised by the gratitude of your colleagues and your mind.
Pro tip: Share this article with your HR manager
Our favourite, regardless that we are slightly biased, is utilising the focus and productivity-enhancing capabilities of natural scents.
A Japanese study researched if certain aromas could increase the productivity of
employees. They found that specific scents can increase alertness which in turn, results in higher productivity rates. When lemon oil was diffused through an office building, performance amongst data entry operators increased by a whopping 54%! Aromas ca
n improve cognition by interacting with our brain chemistry. There are compounds in the
aromas of the essential oils of rosemary and sage, for example, that can potentially improve memory by being absorbed into the blood when we inhale the scent. Once passed into the brain they enhance the activity of a neurotransmitter (brain cell messenger) that is used to facilitate memory.
Besides extra performance scents have the ability to empower emotional balance, and reduce stress, restlessness and even insomnia. If productivity and focus are what you are here for, then our botanica scent is perfect for you.
Pomodoro / Deep breath breaks
It is easy to have hours fly by at the job because we are hypnotised by our desire for an empty inbox and to manage the upcoming deadlines. As time goes by we slowly drain our minds which results in less productivity, focus and creativity. As we force ourselves to stay focussed for a long period of time our mind increasingly wanders and loses the ability to store information. A study published in the journal Cognition highlights that taking short breaks enables our minds to significantly increase productivity and focus. There are 2 techniques that we truly love when it comes to taking a break from the job.
You might have heard this buzz term come by at the office. Basically, it is a technique where you focus for 25 minutes followed by a 5 minutes break, and so on.
It helps significantly with separating “work time” and “break time”, resets focus and enables you to stand up from your desk and stimulate your brain by short physical movement.
Checkout pomodoro and see if it works for you.
Deep breath breaks
If you feel like you want to go a bit deeper into work-space healing and re-balancing yourself you should give deep-breath breaks a try. This enables more air to flow into your body, calming your nerves, and reducing stress and anxiety. It can also improve your attention span and lower pain levels. Moreover, it will bring awareness to your breathing pattern during the day, and can help you to identify your mental state. Are you breathing shortly and how do you feel? As we mentioned in our, how to identify an overloaded mind journal, this can significantly impact your mental wellness.
The technique is simple: find a comfortable place to sit and take several deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. In only a couple of minutes, you will feel a world of difference and better understand how you feel.
Binaural beats are auditory illusions created as a result of two tones listened to at different frequencies. They basically are the in-between sounds that stimulate certain elements of the brain. Binaural beats in the alpha frequencies (8 to 13 Hz) are thought to encourage relaxation, promote positivity, and decrease anxiety. Binaural beats in the lower beta frequencies (14 to 30 Hz) have been linked to increased concentration and alertness, problem-solving, and improved memory.
Proponents of binaural beat therapy suggest that the potential benefits include: reduced stress and anxiety, increased focus, concentration, and motivation, improved confidence, and better long term memory after exposure to beta pattern frequencies. According to a 2019 study from the Natural Health Institute, listening to these beats enhance psychomotor performance and mood. You can find these frequencies on meditation apps, youtube or Spotify and experiment with them yourself.
When at the job you might need an extra boost to get into deep focus. Binaural beats of 40 Hz were found to help enhance training and learning. Listen to one of our favourite episodes here.
Avoid unnecessary distractions
Distractions and multitasking can have a huge drain on your decision making power and mental fatigue. Constant pinging email and social media notifications will eat away at your mental power, even an unorganised workspace does take you off your work.
So, by keeping your workplace organised and clean, you create mental space and clarity to focus on what is important. Throw your phone out of the window (not literary), and make sure your email notifications are turned off during times of deep focus. One of our favourite tricks to deal with our inbox is to segment it all to 2 or 3 specific moments during the day, only respond to the absolutely essential stuff, the rest can wait.
We hope these simple tricks help you improve your work-mind balance and performance. If you have any suggestions or questions regarding our content please do not hesitate to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org