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Crafting your perfect environment for concentration


Whether you’re going after your dreams or just making ends meet for now, the time inevitably comes when you need to put your head down and get ‘er done—and the environment you’re working in can make or break your ability to do just that. Sound, sight, physical feel—our primal senses are all far more influential on our ability to focus than we give them credit for.

So before you do anything drastic to get in the zone, remember that these 4 elements are key to crafting your perfect environment for concentration:

 

The stuff in your earholes

Your brain actually looks for distractions when it should be otherwise focusing, so picking the right kind of auditory stimulation has the power to not only drown out the potentially distracting environmental noise but can also stimulate your brain just enough to stay in the zone.

 

Noisli is one in-browser soundscape program I’ve found really useful—you can customize the different ambient sounds to suit your style, and it’s free forever.

 

Focus@Will is an in-browser service that streams music scientifically optimized to help you stay focused, with a bunch of different styles to choose from. Currently I’m listening to Alpha Chill, and I’m, like, super sharp RN. If your productivity gets a boost during the 15-day trial, you may just want to pay the $9 monthly subscription fee to have it with you every time you work.

The green factor

 

 

It’s one of the simplest ways to boost your productivity, according to science: “The mere presence of plants in an office setting boosts one’s ability to maintain attention,” says the Scientific American, referencing a study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology.

 

So go nuts—make a jungle of your work space and let the concentration flow.

The light vibes

Natural lighting is optimal for our working environment, but since many of us don’t have control over our proximity to a window (#officelife), get yourself a desk lamp with good light diffusion and test out different bulbs to see whether a daylight bulb or softer bulb is your jam.

Keep two things in mind when trying out lighting: vibe, and how it affects your circadian rhythm (ie. your body’s way of telling when it’s time to sleep). A super warm, dim lamp may make for cool vibes, but may also induce a high concentration of desk-naps. Same goes for too much artificial light.

 

The thermostat

It’s not just you—working in too cold of an environment actually affects everybody’s ability to concentrate, according to this study from Cornell University.

Workers at a Florida firm were found to make 44 percent more mistakes when the thermostat was set to 20 degrees celsius, compared to their performance in a more optimally heated environment.

Since your body is working to keep its internal temperature up, your biology is literally distracted—meaning less resources for critical thinking.

The best temperature to work in? 25 degrees celsius.

If you share an office with people who seemingly defy these rules of science and won’t let you turn the heat up, keep an office sweater and a space heater handy at all times.

 

It’s the simple things

While we tend to blame the more complicated-to-fix culprits like workload and a terrible attention span to address our focusing issues, sometimes the answer is a heck of a lot simpler: how’s your physical working environment? Just take a minute to fix it up a little, and settle in for the flow.