January 4th, 2016

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A Positive Environment for A New Year

You get to class early on a Thursday morning. You immediately sit down at your desk, pull out your number 2 pencil, a calculator, and your notebook. You carefully look over the calculus study guide given to you by your professor the week prior. Today is the final exam. You have prepared for every possible word problem. You have studied every mathematical equation. You are going to ace this exam…until you look up.

Yes, this is room 113A, yes all the desks are in the correct spot, but NO it is not organized. No big deal, right, you can still focus on the exam in this cluttered room. You studied all night and you know your stuff. Other classmates join you and the professor passes out the exam. The first question is an easy one, B; the next A. It is not so bad until you hear the sounds of a celebrating class from next door and you look up again.

You have suddenly become annoyingly aware of your surroundings! The class before yours had written their names all over the wipe off board; Aurora in neon pink and Phillip in bright blue. There were a few left over streamers stuck to the wall with masking tape, even a single red balloon trapped in the corner of the ceiling. The stench of pepperoni pizza lingers in the warm air, making a deep breath unenjoyable.

This exam that you thought was going to be easy turned into a distracted nightmare; all because the environment was not a pleasant one.

Believe it or not your surroundings can widely impact your focus, attention span, and even your motivation.

The New Year has just begun, START IT OUT RIGHT! Grab some friends, Colleagues, and don’t forget the WOW! Magic, and organize those chaotic closets and cluttered cabinets. Make space by throwing away those old receipts and dried-out markers. Place labels on the outside of clear, plastic bins for a great way to stay neat and orderly. By simply rotating your inventory it can breathe new life into something that has been long forgotten about.

In the classroom example above, you will note that sight is not the only distracted sense; smell and sound have a huge impact on our ability to focus as well. It is true that each environment should be person-centered as well as geared towards the specific activity; however in most settings it is appropriate to have a neutral scent that is not overly potent and calm, hushed tones for efficiency.

Keeping a space free of hazards, obstacles, and other messes can eliminate the possibility for anxiety brought on by clutter. It can also keep someone focused on their current activity, whether it is as important as a test, or just working on a puzzle; a positive environment is key for productivity.

Have some tips for creating a positive environment at home or in the workplace? Share your comments below.

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