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7 ways to organize your workspace for productivity

The environment where work is done has a profound effect on productivity.



Whether you work from home, a cubicle or an open plan office, your work space should be an area where you feel like you can block out unnecessary distractions and focus on the task at hand.

Everyone is different when it comes to the way they work and we all have our own tricks for staying productive, from developing daily routines to creating to-do lists.

But research shows that our physical environment can also have a big impact on our ability to focus and stay productive. So with this in mind, here are some of the research-based things you can do to make your work environment more conducive to productivity.

1. Make the most of the light

How much light as well as the type of light present in your office has a big impact on your productivity, and research shows that exposure to natural light, in particular, can improve workplace performance.

One study by scientist Mirjam Muench found that people who had worked with daylight were a lot more alert by the evening than those who had been exposed to artificial light. Poor lighting conditions can also impact our cortisol levels and hinder our ability to deal with stressful situations.

So if your office doesn’t get a lot of natural light or your desk isn’t near a window, you should look for light bulbs and fixtures that mimic natural light, such as LED panels.

Organize your workspace in order to helop you focus at work and stay productive. (Source)

2. Reduce the clutter

Clutter isn’t always a bad thing, and some research even shows that having a messy desk can help us think more creatively. However, when you’re trying to focus on a specific task as opposed to dreaming up new ideas, a cluttered workspace can be distracting and cause your mind to wander.

One study by researchers from Princeton University Neuroscience Institute found that clutter limits your brain’s ability to process information.

So if you want to be more productive, start by getting rid of any unnecessary items from on and around your desk, and your PC desktop for that matter. Updating your storage spaces and using clearly marked folders can also help you keep things more organized in the future.

3. Get the temperature right

The temperature of your office can affect how well you’ll perform your work, and one study by Cornell researchers found that performance decreases when temperatures are either too hot or too cold. According to their research, the ideal temperature for productivity is somewhere around 25˚C (77F).

If you don’t have much control over the temperature in your office, you could try bringing your own moveable heater or portable air conditioning unit to keep things more comfortable.

4. Add a splash of color  

The colors we’re surrounded by can also affect our state of mind and productivity. A study from the University of Texas found that women were negatively impacted when working in offices with primarily bland colors like gray, white and beige. For men, the same held true with the colors purple and orange.

On the other hand, colors like blue and green are known to be calming and can help you focus, so finding a way to bring these colors into your workspace can be beneficial. If thinking outside the box is important to you, yellow can also be a good color to have around, as it’s known to stimulate creativity.

organize your workspace

Integrating colors such as blue or green when you organize your workspace can be calming. (Source)

5. Bring some greenery indoors

You’ve probably heard that greenery can have a calming effect, but did you know that something as simple as bring a few potted plants into your workspace could enhance your productivity by 15%?

A study from the University of Exeter looked at commercial offices in the UK and the Netherlands and found that when so-called ‘lean’ workplaces were enriched with plants, employees reported increased workplace satisfaction and higher levels of focus.

6. Choose rounded furniture

Oddly enough, even the shape of our office furniture can have an effect on our levels of productivity. In one study by Oregon State University researchers, a group of undergrads were asked to view a series of room interiors and then rate each one based on how it made them feel.

The rooms that contained curvy and rounded furniture were consistently rated more positively than the rooms with straight-edged and sharp angled furniture. Round tables can also promote a sense of camaraderie among coworkers, and curvy or rounded office furniture can trigger more activity in the regions of the brain that are associated with reward.

7. Harness the power of distractions

When we want to get serious work done, we usually seek out a quiet environment, but sometimes you can actually focus better in a bustling coffee shop than in a room so quiet you could hear a pin drop.

One study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that moderate levels of ambient noise can increase our motivation and creativity.

So if you work from home, you might want to head out to a coffee shop every now and then to mix it up. Or if the noise levels in your office environment aren’t optimal, you could use your headphones to play music at a low volume or use a white noise app to introduce moderate noise levels and stay focused.

DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation in writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.


Marianne Stenger is a writer with Open Colleges one of Australia’s leading online education providers. She covers everything from life hacks and career development to learning tips and the latest research in education.