4 Desktop Items Scientifically Proven to Boost Your Productivity

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The average U.S. employee works 1790 hours a year. For many of us, that’s nearly 21% of a given year spent consigned to a desk. 1790 hours spent looking at the same computer, over 107,000 minutes within the same walls, and nearly 6.5 million seconds sat pondering projects in your swivel chair. If you are spending all of this time at your place of employment, why not personalize your workspace?

In a 2010 workplace study involving 47 office workers in London, Craig Knight and Alex Haslam, members of Identity Realization Workplace Consultancy, found that productivity rose 32% for those allowed to freely arrange and decorate work offices. Moreover, both team commitment and efficiency rose because employees experienced an elevated sense of unity thanks to their employer’s flexibility. Take a page out of this playbook and make the time to adorn your office (within company parameters of course) as freely as you do with your other spaces. Here's your cheat sheet of four productivity boosting desktop items that will jump start your mission by keeping you focused, productive, and stress-free.

1) Snacks

You’re running late, already spilled coffee on your shirt, and dropped your breakfast running to catch the train. Two hours into work your stomach’s growling and productivity’s waning, but there is no hope that you’ll get your hands on anything edible before lunch. Not so fast! Dr. Julie Schwartzbard states in her article Factors That Affect Focus and Concentration that hunger can lead to low blood sugar, fatigue, and diminished energy levels. However, the neurologist also insists that these effects could be the cause of your lagging concentration and can be resolved by a well-rounded diet of lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Battle hunger with the necessities and keep a stash of non-perishable snacks at your desk or small portions of fruits or veggies in the communal fridge. The ideal snack would consist of three components - protein, fiber, and good fats - that means grab a handful of dried edamame, a packet of oatmeal, or a bag of unsalted nuts (a snack recommended by none other than Mayo Clinic). If you are feeling creative, check out sites like Pinterest or the Food Network where you can find thousands of snack ideas from dark chocolate covered Banana bites to homemade pumpkin seed trail mix. For those looking for healthier options without the time to plan for every hunger pang, consider weekly subscription boxes like Graze that offer over 100 different munchies, all of which contain no artificial colors, preservatives, or flavors.

2) Headphones

Whether you are working in a cubicle, office, or remotely, everyone can benefit from total concentration. Reaching ‘productivity nirvana’ is anything but easy; phone conversations, idle chatter, and the humming of the air conditioner can quickly become distractions and science backs that up. In a workspace privacy study of 87 employees, psychologists found that personnel with little to no privacy spent more energy coping with distractions than their counterparts who were more secluded. Considering about 70% of US offices have some form of an open floor plan, it is a reasonable assumption that a significant amount of time is spent coping with work interruptions.

Tune out the disturbances with noise canceling headphones. Noise canceling earphones work differently than standard headphones by blocking background noise using technology which captures external sound waves and plays back a reverse wave to counteract the sound. Business Insider found that the Bose QuietComfort line has superior noise canceling technology, but they also provide a list of other highly recommended headphones. Boost your productivity even further by using the Relax Melodies app as mentioned in our previous article, 5 Free Apps You Need to Revive Your Work Productivity.

3) Plants

Christian Jarrett, author of The Perfect Workspace (According to Science), claims after all his research regarding a modern office productivity practices that, “If you only do one thing to optimize your workspace, invest in a green plant or two,” and we cannot help but agree. Plants are a hugely powerful force when it comes to workplace happiness; research has shown time and time again that office plants offer a range of employee benefits including shorter recovery times after demanding projects and lowering stress levels. As an added bonus, there’s also evidence that plants can reduce office pollution. A National Aeronautics and Space Administration study found that plants are the best option for filtering everyday office pollutants such as emissions from printers, lights, and other electronics.

Are you still apprehensive on becoming a plant parent? Consider this- a University of Exeter study found that living greenery boosts productivity by nearly 15%, which is a boost we could all use. Spruce up your corporate space with some potted friends, pun intended!

4) Tactile Toy (i.e. the stress ball you received during onboarding)

Are you one of the 6.8 million adults who suffer from anxiety? Anxiety can bring many challenges to the workplace. Whether you are feeling restless, unfocused, or worried, tactile toys offer an approach to managing stress.  A professor at the University of Illinois Urbana found that minor distractions, like squeezing a stress ball, can help enhance productivity by giving the mind a series of breaks, thus making it easier to focus your attention when returning to a task.

Using tactile toys while on the job can help focus your thoughts and divert the mind from negative feelings. Some popular tactile toys include Thinking Putty, magnets, and beads - products found on this New York University Ph.D. student and professor’s Tumblr page. These two academics set out to document what people use to combat anxiety and stay focused as a side project to assist in their ongoing research around ‘Fidget Widgets. Take a look at their site and see what others have adopted to stay motivated at work. Make sure whatever items you decide to use are neither loud nor messy out of respect of your officemates the last thing you want is to disrupt those around you.


It is time to make your workspace work for you. When you include items like healthy snacks, headphones, plants, and tactile toys in your office environment, you have the ability to put distractions aside and focus on the important things. These four items are just a few ways to kick start your cubical redesign so you can spend your 1790 hours in a state of blissful productivity.

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