When you find ways to increase productivity at work, without some new organizational system or over managing your time, you might feel like you found the ultimate life hack. If you could only figure out how to power through your to-do list faster, you’d be happier, have better work-life balance, and finally stick to that meditation practice. While there’s no magic pill to make you more productive overnight, there are a wealth of science-backed strategies to increase productivity in the workplace. We’re going to give you one of the easiest ones right now. And we’ll go one step further by sharing some quick ideas on how to make this strategy work for you.
1 Easy Strategy to Increase Productivity at Work
Researchers at Cornell recently discovered a simple way to increase productivity at work in a study published earlier this year. The trick? Increase your exposure to natural light. And the benefits go beyond productivity to your overall wellness as a human.
Here’s how it works: Essentially, researchers found a backdoor to boosting productivity by looking at the things that slow you down—think eye strain, headaches, blurry vision—and how you can decrease them. Natural light has a major positive impact on all three. When working in an office with optimized natural light, workers reported an 84 percent drop in the above symptoms. Plus a 10 percent decrease in drowsiness. Those things alone are likely to boost worker performance. And that’s exactly what they did.
Together, those effects accounted for a two percent increase in productivity. Though that may sound small, the authors concluded that boost translates to $1,000 in value per person each year. (It seems like increasing productivity at work could make you flush with cash. Or at least make your company flush with cash, which is usually a good thing for you too.)
Short of moving to the corner office (one day…), there are plenty of ways you can take advantage of natural light’s ability to affect your efficiency. Here’s how to increase your productivity in the workplace by brightening up your space.
If you can’t go to the natural light, bring the natural light to you. Or at least the best artificial light. Replace any bulbs in your office with light bulbs designed to mimic natural light. They have real benefits, as in the kind experienced with actual natural light.
Full-spectrum bulbs that mimic the natural array of wavelengths emitted by the sun can improve:
- Visual clarity
That’s according to findings from the Lighting Research Center. Don’t have control over your office bulb selection? You probably have control over what’s on your desk. (At least we hope you do.) Place a full-spectrum lamp on your desk that mimics natural light.
Reflect on a redesign
With an interior office or desk, you don’t have to punch a hole in the wall to capture some natural light. (…though we’d understand why you’d want to some days.) Strategic design hacks can help you catch it.
Mirrors: Where possible, place a mirror opposite a natural light source. E.g., if a sliver of sun through the doorway hits the wall opposite your desk, place a mirror there to reflect that light back at you. The more reflective surfaces you have, the more natural light can bounce around. Plus you’ll basically turn your space into a disco ball, which is a pretty big win in our opinion.
Window treatments: In your home office, remove (or just pull back) any heavy drapes or blinds from your windows to optimize the natural light. Opt for sheer curtains that allow that light to filter through.
Furniture: A desk with a glass or acrylic top isn’t just designed to fit into the trendy offices of a new start-up. Clear furniture allows light to pass through it, making the room appear brighter overall.
Okay, so you work in a cave. No amount of design hacks will lighten things up. To boost your daily exposure to natural light, seek out a communal area or conference room with windows and post up with your laptop for short stretches during the day. Consider it a productivity-boosting change of scenery.
All it takes to increase productivity at work is a little change up to your environment. With so much research on how our surroundings affect our behavior, it’s no surprise that this works for productivity too. Try it out and see if you experience the same benefits. Then use the time to work on your goals. Or do things that give your life meaning. Or just take a nap. (The science on naps is legit so don’t laugh that off too quickly.) Whatever you do, enjoy the time you created by brightening up your space.
Your turn: How do you increase productivity in the workplace? Have you optimized your office environment? Tell us more in the comments.
Want more ways to increase productivity at work? Check out these 72 Tools to Overcome Procrastination and Improve Productivity.
Author: Macaela Mackenzie
Macaela Mackenzie is a freelance writer and content strategist. When she doesn’t have her nose in a research journal or the New York Times, she’s likely to be found looking for punny greeting cards or an excuse to explore a new travel spot.