Boss Lady

Top 6 ways to maximize productivity at the office


Women in business don’t have to settle for dull. Your office, your rules—so it’s time to own your space. Use these six tips to increase your productivity and avoid burnout at the office.

1. Make use of natural light

If your office has a window, let in as much natural light as possible. Researchers at the Interdepartmental Neuroscience program at Northwestern University in Chicago showed those with windows in their office got 173% more white light exposure during work hours and slept an average of 46 minutes longer per night than those who did not. Those without windows reported lower scores on quality of life measures and had poorer outcomes in terms of quality and efficiency of sleep. Natural light is better for your circadian rhythms, which promotes better sleep, which promotes productivity.

2. Pay attention to color

The color of your office walls can dramatically affect your productivity, even if you’re unaware. If your office walls are red, it could be to blame for issues with focus. A 2011 study showed the color red increases the speed and strength of reactions, at a level most people are unaware. Though it may sound like a good thing, this usually leads to worry and distraction, which are taxing to mental resources.

Think it’s safe to go all-white? A 2012 study showed the “sterile” all-white hospital clinical approach feels intimidating, which of course isn’t ideal for productivity. So what’s the answer? Avoid anything bright and bold—instead, go with a more subdued, subtle color. Softer hues are easier on the eyes, and thus, better for concentration.

If you can’t paint your office, add splashes of color where you can, and stick to blues and greens for their calming effects.

3. Organize and decorate with style

Who wants to sit and stare at the same old boring office supplies and bland walls all day? Bring things you love into your office and you’ll find yourself actually wanting to be there. When you experience feelings of dread, you’re more likely to be anxious and distracted, so creating an environment you love will help make you more productive. Spruce up your work area with fun office supplies in colors you love. Choose a wall for a dream board. Bring photos of family, friends, and other loved ones. Add an inspirational accent piece. Have a little fun with it!

4. Add plants to your office

Studies show plants can help decrease stress and enhance productivity by 12%. For best results, place your plant where it’s in your peripheral view, but not in a line of sight that will disrupt your activities. Keep it small if you’re limited on space and opt for something like a succulent if you’re worried about remembering to water it. Plus, having plants inside can help lower your company’s operations and maintenance costs since choosing the right ones and putting them in the right places can reduce heating and cooling costs by as much as 20% while helping keep the humidity in a comfortable range.

5. Craft a schedule

Sure, you’re working a certain number of hours every day, but try building your schedule for each day based on what needs to be done. Schedule your day in 90-minute work blocks. Research from Florida State University shows performers such as athletes and musicians who work for 90 minutes and then take breaks are more productive than those who work in blocks longer than 90 minutes. The study also revealed the top-performing subjects worked less than 4 ½ hours per day.

Turn off phone notifications during work hours, so you’re not tempted to run to your inbox or text messages the second a notification arrives. Instead, create small blocks of time dedicated to check and reply to email and other communications. Don’t let incoming email and phone calls determine your day—start every day with a plan in mind and stick to it as best you can.

Avoid meetings as much as possible, as those can be time-sucking activities that detract from your productivity. This, of course, doesn’t mean you should skip any mandatory meetings, but if your presence isn’t required, skip it in favor of getting more done.

6. Make time for exercise

Even while you’re at work, taking a few minutes here and there for exercise may help you be more productive. Research published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine shows getting your blood pumping increases energy and alertness, making it easier for you to get things done. Even if you take a break every 90 minutes to walk a few laps around your desk, that’s better than sitting still.

Take some time out of your busy schedule to evaluate your office setup. Is it as efficient as it can be? Once you have your new office setup down, focus on creating the ideal environment with natural light, decor, and stylish office supplies. Then, tackle your schedule, leaving room for exercise. You’ll see a dramatic improvement in your productivity in no time!


About Megan Totka

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources and business news. Megan has several years of experience on the topics of small business marketing, copywriting, SEO, online conversions and social media. Megan spends much of her time establishing new relationships for, publishing weekly newsletters educating small business on the importance of web presence, and contributing to a number of publications on the web.

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