The space that you spend 8 (or more) hours of the day should inspire you to do your best while making you feel mentally calm and alert. Yet how many of us have settled for less than the ideal when it comes to our office, cubicle, or open workspace?
If you look around your work area, do you feel inspired? Energized? Or does the clutter on your desk and the blankness of your walls make you wish you were someplace else? It’s long been known in the psychological literature that the space we’re in has an impact on how we behave. You can tweak your workspace to maximize your creative potential and ambition with some guidance from science, nature, and a little bit of personal touch.
Add Some Color
Certain colors might make you feel a certain way – which might lead you to choose green over gray for your home remodel. It’s well known that colors can have an effect on our moods, but did you know they can change the way we work, too? Blue and green have been shown in studies to be linked to innovation and creativity, while red has been linked to higher performance in tasks that require attention to detail. Lighting can also impact the tone and appearance of colors, so choose a lighting scheme for your office that suits your productivity needs. Using lamps instead of overhead lighting can make colors appear less harsh.
Nature is nurturing, and research shows it boosts mental activity, too. Studies have shown that walking in nature improves memory by 20 percent. The more of nature you can bring to the office, the better your brain will perform. One study found that viewing natural landscapes restored cognitive function, recharging the mind for further tasks. Even in an urban setting, a view of some trees can do a lot to put the mind at ease. If you don’t have a window around, put up pictures of nature in your office and on your computer desktop. Indoor plants will also increase attention and focus, so invest in some ferns and succulents.
As it turns out, straight and narrow isn’t always what the path to success looks like. Sometimes it’s round and curvy. A 2011 study showed that people found furniture that is more curved and rounded, rather than square and linear, to be more relaxing and pleasant. If you have any control over your office furniture, select pieces that have rounded edges instead of sharp ones. You might find that your ambition increases, as another study discovered that the brain’s regions associated with reward lit up when viewing more rounded environments.
Some of the ways that you decorate and organize your space might be based in science. The rest is up to you as an individual. It’s your space, and what’s in it should reflect your personality and your unique work style. Fill it with images that awaken your inspiration and creativity – like pictures of your family, knick-knacks from places you’ve traveled, and images of things that embody what you want to do and become. A decorated office lends to better cognitive performance than a bare office, according to one study. Plus, filling your office with looks and designs of your own will make it more “yours,” and not just any old office. Having a sense of control over your surrounding also increases productivity, as a 2010 study showed. Make it your own, you’ll find yourself getting more done and looking forward to the workday.