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Have you ever wonder why you seem to get more things done when in a certain environment? As a student, I can only be productive when I’m in the library. If I happen to be in my room, I end up lying on my bed procrastinating most of the time.

The same situation happen to most people. Some freelancers prefer to work at a cafe down the street compared to working at home. The reason is simple. They are more productive this way. It is undeniable that our environment shapes our productivity.

To maximise our productivity, we must focus on setting up the right environment. With the right environment, we are able to focus on the tasks at hand much easier. Here are some ways to set up the right environment to maximise your productivity:

1. Eliminate Distractions

First of all, we should eliminate all the distractions in our workplace. A distraction free surrounding is a must if you want to get more things done in a day. Take a look at your desk/surroundings and figure out which items might be distracting you.

A smartphone is the ultimate item that distracts us. If you want to be more productive, turn off those annoying notifications. You might as well turn on airplane mode or turn off the internet. As an even more extreme measure, you can just turn off your phone or leave it in another room/put it into your drawer.

If you are working using laptops or computers, you might find yourself surfing the net or scrolling through your social media pages every 30 minutes, thus affecting your performance at work. In this case, prepare every resource you need before you start working then turn off the internet while you work. Or you could use an application called Freedom, which helps you to block distracting websites.

Eliminating distractions in your surrounding is a must in order to achieve your peak productivity. I bet you don’t want yourself to get interrupt when you’re in the flow – the mental state where someone fully focuses on the process of an activity.

2. Adjust Your Surroundings.

Air quality does indeed affect our productivity. According to a research, improving air quality can significantly improve our cognitive functions. The study shows that working in an environment with higher carbon dioxide concentrations result in a decrease in cognitive performance. Poor air quality also affects our concentration and energy level. If you want to achieve more, improving your working environment’s air quality is a must. You might consider setting up a greener working environment by adding some indoor house plants to improve the air quality.

Lighting is also another important factor that will affect our productivity at work. The best source of lighting is of course natural light. Therefore, try to look for work places which offers you natural light instead of artificial lighting. According to a research, exposure to natural light will also improve the quality of our sleep during the night. Having a good night’s sleep will definitely improve our productivity on the following day.

3. Noise level

You might be surprised, but the noise level is also one of the environment factors that will affect your productivity. However, different people might have different preferences. Some prefer to work under a quiet environment while some prefer to work under a noisy environment.

According to a study, ambient noise can enhances one performance on creative tasks. The study shows that tiny bit of noise aren’t totally bad. That’s why people whose jobs involve creative tasks prefer to work in a café. The noise helps them to come up with more creative ideas. If you’re curious about the effectiveness of this method, you can head over to Coffitivity, a website that recreates the environment of being in a café to improve your creativity and help you work better. It provides you with different coffee shop sounds, allowing you to immerse yourself in the café-like environment without physically being in a café.

However, if you think you work better in a noise-free environment, then just go on ahead to set up a workplace with minimal noise. A quiet environment allows you to concentrate much easier. Depending on the type of tasks, you might need different environments to optimise your performance.

4. Music

Some might argue that it is distracting to listen to the music while working. It’s not totally wrong. Listening to music might be destructive for our focus. That’s why choosing the right music to listen to while working comes in handy. Working on different types of tasks requires different music.

According to a study, during a workout, music with lyrics works the best. The music distracts you from the physical pain and boosts your endurance during the exercise. That’s part of the reason why people listening to music while exercising can go the extra mile without even realizing it.

While working on repetitive tasks, listening to music also makes the tasks more enjoyable. However, if you’re working on creative tasks, ambient noise is a sweet spot to get your creative juices flowing. Loud noise, on the other hand, makes it difficult for us to concentrate. Listening to music you are familiar with also helps you to focus more easily. Therefore, always choose different types of music for different contexts.

Classical music, electronic music or even the latest hit songs, choose the playlist that is right for you. If you’re uncertain with what is right for you, you may try out Focus@Will. It is a neuroscience based music service. Every music track in the library is designed specifically to enhance your focus and concentration.

5. Water and Snacks

While you are busy dealing with your tasks, don’t forget to keep yourself hydrated. Always have a bottle of water nearby. The benefits of drinking water is not only limited to health, it also improves our work performance.

Preparing some healthy snacks around you is not a bad idea either. While working, it’s more effective to take a short break at certain intervals to replenish your energy. When we’re running low on glucose, it’s harder for us to stay focus. You might consider snacks such as nuts or berries, which are also beneficial for our health. Walnuts, which contains vitamin E, antioxidants and omega 3 fats, are also another good choice of healthy snacks. Research also shows that walnut consumption improves cognitive performance such as inferential reasoning in young adults.

Prepare whatever healthy snacks you like in your working environment. This way, you don’t have to worry about having to work on an empty stomach.


Improving our productivity is not always about using the Pomodoro Technique, time boxing or To-Do lists. Setting up the right environment is also an important aspect of improving productivity. Design the right environment for yourself. You might be surprise at how the right environment can impact your life.