Four Hidden Productivity Killers (and How To Fix Them)

By Doryen Edward Chin, Disbursement Officer, Xerox Business Services

It may not be that big a secret that your environment and habits can have a big impact on your ability to be productive, but here’s a list of four things that you may not have been aware are impacting your work output, and how you can fix them.

Your computer monitor is too bright.

By default, most computer monitors are calibrated to a high color temperature and brightness, designed to mimic midday sunlight. This is bad for productivity because the contrast between your environmental lighting and the brightness of your display can be enough to cause migraines, vision damage, dizziness, and fatigue.

  • Dim the monitor and drop the color temperature to its warmest setting until the monitor appears no brighter or bluer in light color than the wall behind it.

Your office lighting is too bright.

office ergonomics and productivity tipsIf your office is like mine, you have big, bright overhead fluorescent lights that shine directly down on your desk and workstation. This can cause glare, harsh shadows, and strain the eyes, much like having a monitor that is too bright. Indirect lighting is really the best way to go, but if installing new lighting is not an option for you, here are a couple different things you can try.

  • Have maintenance remove the lighting directly above your desk.
  • Turn your desk or workstation so that neither you nor your screen is being directly shone upon by the primary light source in your office.
  • Bring in a shaded lamp for additional warm lighting. Indirect lighting is the key. Frosted glass and translucent shades can be straining on the eyes. Opt for low-wattage lamps with opaque shades.

Your furniture is the wrong size.

Most modern office furniture is designed to accommodate the widest range of people possible. In this age of high attrition and corporate anonymity, there is a one-size fits all mentality about workstation furniture which compromises comfort and ergonomics for universality. That being said, you probably can’t replace the furniture in your office at work, so here are a few things you can do instead:

  • Raise your chair so that your arms can be bent comfortably in a neutral position. The keyboard should be at about lap-level.
  • This may cause your feet to dangle, if so – invest in a small foot stool.
  • Bring your keyboard and mouse as close to you as possible. Your arms should be hanging restfully at your sides as you type, with your wrists in a neutral position.
  • If your monitor height is adjustable, lower it down so that the top of the frame is below the center of your vision.

You’re getting too much artificial light.

Constant exposure to artificial light is linked with a number of physiological diseases and disorders. Mainly, it upsets your circadian rhythm, which is your sleep cycle. Too much artificial light and suddenly you’re not getting enough good sleep and your mood drops precipitously. Here are some things you can do to restore your rhythm.

  • Turn off all unnecessary lighting after sunset. Candlelight is okay.
  • Turn down the brightness on your screens and devices until you’ve reached the minimal comfortable setting.
  • Install F.lux by Stereopsis on your computer. It’s a free piece of open-source software that red-shifts your computer’s display after sunset. Their website has links to numerous scientific studies that demonstrate why blue light consumption is unhealthy after sunset.

Now that you’ve got the upper hand on all these hidden productivity killers, share them with your friends and coworkers. Odds are, they didn’t know about them either. Let us know in the comments how they worked for you.

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  1. Lorrie Sullivan September 20, 2012 - Reply

    Doryen, Your timing is impeccable. I am currently building a new home office. I do have migraines on occasion and I will keep this advice in mind when we add the lighting.

  2. Doryen Edward Chin (Xerox employee) September 21, 2012 - Reply

    Lorrie, I’m glad that you found the post useful! Building a new workspace is always an exciting time. I look forward to hearing about how it turned out! -Doryen

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