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How Your Surroundings Effect Productivity

For many people unfamiliar with the ancient Chinese practice of Feng shui, the thought of changing your surroundings to achieve a greater amount of productivity may seem strange.  But when we consider the military practice of making sure that living quarters are clean and well organized, it brings something of modernity to the conversation.  But perhaps where the pseudoscience of Feng shui meets the modern world most, is in the arena of understanding the link between human emotion and environmental surroundings.

Clean Your Room

In a study published by the Journal of Consumers in 2013, they documented a study by BC University students.  Their research showed an experiment involving 103 individuals who were asked to solve a puzzle  in an environment that was organized.  The students were then moved to another room where the environment was highly disorganized, and asked to perform another set of equally difficult puzzles.

That study found that the participants showed a shorter duration for solving problems in a room that was highly disorganized. The fact that individuals who were attempting to solve puzzles in a highly disorganized environment were quicker to quit their tasks revealed that they lacked the same amount of persistence when performing a similar task in a clean environment.

Of course given the choice most of us would probably chose to live a lifestyle where we work being surrounded by large open windows on the top of a major city skyline, or a fireplace encrusted lodge in the middle of nowhere with lit soy candles whose smell of rose petals help us ever so gently tap the keys on our laptop.  But the harsh reality is that we can be more productive  many times by just cleaning up and organizing the items around us.

Let There Be Light

Recent studies by major corporations such as Philips Systems show that there is a significant link between light and productivity.  If you conduct your work in an environment that is filled with large windows and much natural light as a result, then the light begins to affect your Circadian Rhythm which is the body’s natural clock.  This in turn helps you to be more alert and focused when working.

According to a report published by researchers at Northwestern University, workers who received more white light exposure than their colleagues tended to sleep better during the night.  This made them more productive at work and also enhanced their decision making skills.

The Power of Plants

Another critical component to helping you be more productive is having a plant believe it or not.

A UK study in 2014 which studied the benefits of green vs. lean office space found that plants in the workplace increased productivity by 15%.  And most of the studies found that the impact was greater in younger workers.  They contributed employees increase in positive attitude and self esteem, to being surrounded by beautiful artifacts of nature.


1. Clean Your Room - a tidy environment helps us work longer

2. Let There Be Light - a change of lighting can help us be more efficient

3. The Power of Plants - plants can increase your productivity

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