Staying alert, concentrating and remaining focused all day at work isn’t easy. Distractions and fatigue all work against our efforts to be productive. Here’s 5 items we should all have on our desks to get the most from the day.
1. Flask of cold water
“just a 2% loss of body water can result in a drop of 10% in physical and mental performance”
As well as being a healthier alternative to other drinks, such as soda’s, sugary fruit juices or caffeine, water’s also great for your productivity and mental alertness.
Even slight dehydration can lead to a loss in your ability to reason properly, visual perception and mathematical skills. You’ll spend roughly 60% of your waking hours at work, for most people this will probably involve sitting at a desk trying to concentrate on a laptop screen, solve problems and remain productive. All of these tasks require focus and concentration.
Replacing caffeine-high drinks with water will also avoid the effects of dehydration, however mild. By avoiding coffee and tea, and replacing them with water, you’ll also reduce the chances of ailments associated with dehydration, such as headaches and fatigue.
“University of Illinois researchers found that listening to music in “all types of work” increased work output 6.3% over a control group.”
On occasion, we all need to focus solely on one task; blocking out distractions can be difficult in a busy office.
Headphones are an effective weapon in the quest for complete concentration. Not only do they drown out irrelevant conversations and other office noises that could cause distraction, but they also create a visual sign to others that you’re not to be disturbed.
Certain music is known to aid productivity and focus, while a lot of newer music is designed to make us feel certain emotions and make us think, which in itself is a distraction.
Listening to certain types of music is the key to utilising it effectively; classical music is said to improve your ability, or at least mindset, to tackle tasks.
3. A bowl of blueberries
“Researchers found that older adults who were given blueberry juice scored higher on memory tests than those receiving a placebo”
As well as providing a healthy dose of vitamin C, which will reduce your absence and improve your overall immunity to illness, blueberries also offer productivity benefits too.
Researchers found that eating blueberries boosts concentration and memory for up to five hours later, which can help you to avoid the afternoon slump.
By improving the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain, blueberries help us to concentrate for longer periods and maintain productivity throughout the day.
4. House plant(s)
“A study at The Royal College of Agriculture in Circencester, England, found that students demonstrate 70 percent greater attentiveness when they’re taught in rooms containing plants”
There are many benefits to having one or many house plants dotted around the office and on your desk. These include:
- Reduced stress
- Increased productivity
- Reduced absence
- Nice environment
- Cleaner air
- Increased creativity
- Reduced distracting noise
For a more complete explanation of the benefits of plants in the office, see our previous article.
5. A notepad
“A study conducted by Professor Jackie Andrade in 2009 found that doodlers recalled facts 30 percent better than non-doodlers.”
You may think that in an age where apps have taken over note-taking for many, that we no longer require the good old paper note pad. Wrong.
Jotting down notes on paper is quick and simple. Taking a note or notes in an app requires more effort and you’ll undoubtedly be distracted by a notification from a random app on your mobile device when you open it.
Notepads also allow us to doodle, which is known to have a number of benefits when trying to focus and remain productive. These include:
- Improved memory
- Increased focus and concentration
- More creativity
- Helps to generate ideas
Colouring something in on a pad is a stress-free activity that provides our minds with a chance to rest. By staying within the limits of the outlines in which we are colouring, we’re teaching our minds focus and concentration.
Bonus: 6. Buckycubes
Lastly we all need some kind of ‘toy’ to help us relax and have a bit of fun at work.
“These incredibly strong magnets are basically the adult equivalent of LEGO bricks. Besides simply fiddling around with them, you can use BuckyCubes to build cool 3-D sculptures, 2-D artwork, mini skyscrapers, magnetic dominos, or simply to display photos or papers.”
Sometimes taking our mind off of the stresses of the day is all we need!