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10 Awesome Things Science Says Boost Productivity

When it comes to making businesses tick, the secret sauce is workforce productivity. The more efficiently employees work, the more bang company’s get for their buck. Which makes it kind of awkward that the global economy seems to be going through what the Financial Times terms a “productivity crisis.

Luckily, we’ve come to the rescue! (You’re welcome, FT!) Next time your boss is fretting over unproductive workers, you can tell her that all she needs to do is buy each of you a bouquet of flowers and a copy of the latest Now That’s What I Call Music album.

Barmy? Perhaps, but we’ve got the science to back it up. Here are 10 things science says boosts productivity:

1. Puppies

Scientists are truly amazing people. They’ve discovered cures for deadly diseases, explained the laws of the universe and given an empirical justification for the “I Can Has Cheezburger” memes.

A team of Japanese scientists  have proven that looking at cute baby animals improves our dexterity and focus when performing tasks. Bringing your puppy, kitten or teacup piglet to work will make you a better worker. Fact.

2. Plants

You’d think being the smartest man in history might cut you a bit of slack, but poor Albert Einstein was allegedly constantly chastised over his messy habits. Fed up of being criticized for his cluttered desk, he retorted, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

As ever, old Einstein was right. Offices that have no color or greenery make employees miserable, while brightening up their desk with a plant or two sent their productivity skyrocketing.

3. The color blue

Color therapy is a real thing, folks. It even has a fancy technical name: chromology. Every color we see triggers off a different emotional reaction. Red increases our appetites, while yellow can cause anxiety.

The top of the productivity color-charts, however, is the color blue. Blue acts as a brain stimulus, aiding concentration and clearing our minds of distracting thoughts. It even decreases our appetite and makes us feeling more trusting.

And you thought feeling blue was a bad thing.

4. Happiness

Here’s something to smile about – smart bosses should invest in making their workers happy. Positive employees, science shows, are 12% more productive than their down-in-the-dumps counterparts.

If that isn’t an excuse to repeatedly watch ‘Baby Panda Sneezing’ at your desk, what is?

5. Music

Music may be food for the soul, but it’s also a cattle prod for the brain. By cutting out the diversions of a noisy workplace, music helps us focus, and it also makes repetitive tasks less boring.

Try to find something lyric-free though, or the words will distract you in the same way chatting colleagues do.

6. Dancing

If you’ve never had a boogie in the office, now is the time to start. It turns out that David Brent was onto something. Dancing (like other forms of exercise), pumps blood into the brain, which improves your cognitive skills and makes your brain perform better.

7. Napping

Who hasn’t ever wished that they could have a quick kip at their desk? Now you can indulge in a snooze guilt-free, because science shows that napping makes you a better and more productive worker by giving your brain a chance to reset.

Hey, if it’s good enough for Google

8. Breaks

Stopped work for a bit to just chill out? What a diligent worker you are! Seriously. Study after study has shown that employees who take regular breaks achieve more than their working-through-lunch peers.

Our brain needs to be thought of as a muscle; if we keep working it, it gets tired, slows down and eventually grinds to halt. Imagine doing a spin class from 9-5 every day and you’ll get the idea.

According to one set of white coats, the best way to split your day is into 52-minute chunks of work, with 17-minute breaks in-between.

9. Chatting

Having a good old natter with your colleagues might seem like time-wasting, but it’s actually making you a better worker.

You don’t even have to discuss work-related matters; small talk about the weather or gossip about the latest series of X Factor is equally productivity-boosting. Chit-chat can spark off new ideas and approaches, and it can also create stronger social bonds. Both of these things improve worker performance.

10. Shorter work hours

Leaving the office at 4pm shouldn’t just be for Fridays. It might sound counter-intuitive, but the fewer hours you work, the more you get done.

The logic is the same as with breaks; our mental capacity quickly deteriorates if we work it too hard for too long. Moreover, the better our work-life balance is, the happier we tend to be. And, as mentioned, other scientific studies have shown that happiness is a productivity-booster.

About the Author Beth Leslie

Beth Leslie writes graduate careers advice for Inspiring Interns, who specialize in matching candidates to their dream internship. Check out their graduate jobs" listings for roles.

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