How to create a more productive workspace

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From desk gardens to pictures of tiny cats, here’s how to make the most of your office environment

Scent your way to success
Take a big, deep breath through your nose. Research has shown that the smell of the place you work in can significantly affect your productivity (don’t ask us what a waft of re-heated lunchtime bolognaise does to your brain cells, though). There are a number of scents you can add to your environment – via scented candles, room spray or essential oils (check with your colleagues first though, obvs) – to boost your output in no time. Pine, for example, has been proven to increase alertness, whereas cinnamon improves focus. Citrus, however, can wake you up and ‘lift your spirits’, which is why a spritz of lemon is a perfect office productivity hack. (Try Jo Malone’s Lime Basil and Mandarin Body and Hand Lotion to keep it subtle; £40; Jomalone.co.uk).

Surround yourself with cute animals (seriously)
It’s thought that having a well-designed office can boost your output by about 20%, (tell that to HR). But obviously not all of us are able to go about re-painting the office walls or tearing down some MDF. The way forward, it seems, is tiny, furry creatures. Science, ACTUAL SCIENCE has shown that, of all things, baby animals can help boost our productivity. A team of researchers at Hiroshima University conducted a study where they showed university students pictures of ‘cute’ baby animals before completing various tasks. They discovered that those who viewed the baby animal pictures actually did more productive work after seeing those photographs (REJOICE IN THE PUPPIES). So why not consider framing some of your favourite tiny animal pictures and scattering them around your desk, or changing your screensaver to a duckling in a tiny fez (totally normal). Nobody is allowed to think you’re mad. It’s for productivity, OK?

Buy a cactus
Let’s face it, a bleak all-white office with very little décor other than the occasional fire hydrant has to be THE most unmotivating environment to work in. In fact, scientists at Exeter University have described an office devoid of pictures, souvenirs or any other distractions as “the most toxic space” you can put a human into (oh dear). The answer, they say, is a trip to your local garden centre. Employees, it turns out, are way more efficient when their workplaces are filled with houseplants, and even simply being able to see a plant from your desk significantly increases your focus. Thankfully, Bloom and Wild (Bloomandwild.com) will deliver regular plants to your desk for three months (from £50).

Let the sun shine
Assuming you don’t harbour any vampire-like tendencies, daylight – we can all safely agree – is a good thing. And actually, it’s a proven way to up your productivity levels. Sadly, of course, not every workspace is going to be blessed with floor-to-ceiling windows and uninterrupted views over the city, right? Why not invest in a daylight lamp (try the EnergyUp Energy light; £150, Philips.co.uk) that mimics natural sunlight, to help maintain your body’s circadian rhythm. Or ask your boss if you can take the occasional stroll outside to hammer home that Vitamin D. If you’re struggling to get outside though, head to RedBull.co.uk/Productivity for practical work/life hacks and inspirational stories. Consider your office-game boosted in one click.

Crank up the classical music
While your boss might not be up for Hard Trance III on the speakers, perhaps she might entertain a little bit of Mozart, or a spot of Bach? Well, she should because, quite frankly, working in silence all day is mind-numbingly excruciating. But also, a blast of classical music has been found to make workers way more effective. Research has shown that nine out of ten workers perform better when listening to music and some studies even suggest that classical pieces in particular can boost your spatial-temporal reasoning AND up your IQ by up to nine points (Vivaldi it is, then).

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