Does your working environment boost or bust your productivity?

Studies have proven that lighting, décor, smell, noise level, temperature, ergonomics, and color can all affect how you feel. If your environment’s draining you dry, try these tips for a little refreshment.

1. Make sure your workspace is ergonomically designed.  Constant discomfort is a great way to lose energy fast. Look into the possibility of getting ergonomic tools and furniture for your workplace, so you can stay productive.

2. Avoid RMIs. If you perform the same motions over and over again, you may end up with a repetitive motion injury (RMI) like carpal tunnel syndrome, Blackberry thumb, or bursitis. If you’re having a nagging pain, see your doctor and determine what behaviors might be causing it — and what you can do to avoid it.

3. Create a well-lit office space. Bad lighting can hurt you in several ways. Insufficient light causes eyestrain and headaches, both of which are energy bandits. Plus, fluorescents lack the blue light that apparently sparks greater energy in workers. If you can, work under bright incandescent light or natural sunlight.

4. Strive for a neutral background. A distracting office environment can cause you to waste energy on things that don’t really matter. Your best bet is not to have anything around that your body has to use energy to either pay attention to or to ignore.  

5. Limit your overexposure to electromagnetic radiation. While there’s nothing wrong with a little electromagnetic radiation (after all, that’s what sunlight and radio waves are), it’s a bad idea to get too much of it. Stay at arm’s length away from the screen, and be sure your monitor conforms to Swedish MPRII guidelines. 

6. Avoid eyestrain. Protect your eyes from your computer by taking regular breaks, and by positioning the screen the proper distance away. Irritated, blurry eyes make it difficult to dedicate your energy to worthwhile pursuits, and staring at a computer screen that’s too close to you can quickly give you a headache.

7. Insist on proper ventilation. If you and your co-workers seem to be getting sick a lot, or if you’re constantly having to fight off mold, consider checking your building’s ventilation system: the building itself might be sick.

8. Reduce background noise. Studies show that constant low-level noise in open-style offices increases stress and lowers motivation, and impairs the brain’s cognitive function in the prefrontal cortex. One way around this is to listen to music while you work, especially if you use a set of noise-reducing headphones.

Does your environment boost or bust your energy? If you’re not sure, take a close look and learn how to assess the impact of your environment.  All it takes is a few simple changes to boost your energy to the ceiling.

© 2008 Laura Stack.  Laura Stack is a personal productivity expert, author, and professional speaker who helps busy workers Leave the Office Earlier® with Maximum Results in Minimum Time™. She is the president of The Productivity Pro®, Inc., a time management training firm specializing in productivity improvement in high-stress organizations.  Since 1992, Laura has presented keynotes and seminars on improving output, lowering stress, and saving time in today’s workplaces.  She is the bestselling author of three works published by Broadway Books: The Exhaustion Cure (2008), Find More Time (2006) and Leave the Office Earlier (2004).  Laura is a spokesperson for Microsoft, 3M, and Day-Timers®, Inc and has been featured on the CBS Early Show, CNN, and the New York Times. Her clients include Cisco Systems, Sunoco, KPMG, Nationwide, and 3M.  To have Laura speak at your next event, call 303-471-7401.  Visit to sign up for her free monthly productivity newsletter.