Target All Five Senses to Feel Super Creative at Work

The most inspiring office environments appeal to all five senses. (Don’t believe us? Check out this TED talk from designer Jinsop Lee.) No matter what your workspace is like, you can make a few small changes to get your creative juices flowing and boost productivity, allowing for a happier 9-to-5 and better work-life balance.

Set your sights on more color. It’s hard to feel creative when all you see is four beige walls. The key is to implement color psychology into your office design. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to get out the paint brushes—throw pillows, art work and little decorative accents can do the trick. The specific hue you choose depends on what you need. Brighter colors (reds, blues and greens) help you focus and perform tasks more accurately while blue promotes mental clarity, calm, control and creative thinking. Studies have shown that blue environments can produce as many as two times more creative thoughts than red environments.

Block out distracting sounds. Although open, communal workspaces are popular, they’re also pretty noisy, meaning they can get in the way of focusing. Studies show that if you can hear someone speaking while you’re trying to focus on reading or writing, productivity can decrease by up to 66 percent. Slip on a pair of noise-canceling earphones and you can improve your focus by 47 percent and memory by 10 percent.

Grab a squishy ball. If you sit at a desk, your hands are usually on your keyboard, mouse or a pen. Add a fourth option: a stress ball. Holding one in your hand and squeezing it can reduce anxiety and tension and improve your blood circulation. Even better, squeeze it in your left hand to boost creativity (studies show it activates the right side of your brain, which is where creative thinking occurs).

Eat with a purpose. What you eat while at work can also influence your creativity. Studies show that a wandering mind is crucial to creative thinking, so having too much caffeine can make you overly focused and stifle your creative ideas. Feeling tired is also bad, so high-carb lunches or high-sugar snacks and the resulting energy crashes are no good. Instead, eat food with a low glycemic index like chicken, fish and vegetables.

Stock up on scented candles. Smell is one of the most influential senses on your emotions and memory. Scents of cinnamon, mint, lemon, orange and rosemary show the greatest impact on productivity. Try finding candles (they can still impart smell without being lit), oils or lotions in these scents and keep them at your desk.

If you want to learn what else you can do to improve your work environment, check out these blogs:


Photo credit: Nick Keppol

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