Less than a week until TNW València 🇪🇸 Get a last-minute 30% discount on your ticket

This article was published on March 7, 2014

6 totally strange but effective productivity hacks

6 totally strange but effective productivity hacks
Ilya Pozin
Story by

Ilya Pozin

Ilya Pozin is a serial entrepreneur, writer, and investor. He is the founder of Internet TV platform Pluto TV, digital marketing agency Copl Ilya Pozin is a serial entrepreneur, writer, and investor. He is the founder of Internet TV platform Pluto TV, digital marketing agency Coplex, and social greeting card company Open Me (acquired by Rowl). Named one of Inc.’s ‘30 Under 30’ entrepreneurs, Ilya also has columns appearing on Forbes, Inc., and LinkedIn

Ilya Pozin is the founder of Open Me and Ciplex and is a columnist for Inc, Forbes & LinkedIn.

Sometimes, you need more than conventional wisdom and obvious advice to get yourself back on track.

In fact, some of these hacks, whether it’s looking at baby animals or grabbing some Z’s, might actually seem counterintuitive. After all, these aren’t your grandpa’s productivity hacks; they’re a little more strange than “go for a walk” or “prioritize your to-do list” – but all of these methods can help you stay refreshed, get refocused, and do your best work.

These six productivity hacks might seem a little weird, but they work:

1. Fill your office with plants

Can a little greenery boost your productivity? According to several studies, the answer to this question is a resounding yes.

Plants in the office are part of something University of Michigan psychologists Rachel and Stephen Kaplan call “attention restoration theory.”

Since our brains work so hard on tasks which require direct attention, sometimes they need little breaks. Plants and other greenery can offer these breaks by providing a micro-restorative jolt.

Two studies, one published in 2011 and another in the summer of 2013, show participants can think more clearly and recall more information when plants are nearby in an office. Since the brain benefits from exposure to nature, even if it’s just a glance out a window, an office plant can help you refresh, restore, and get back to work.

2. The color yellow is your new best friend

Filling your office with the color yellow can help you concentrate. This sunny color decreases the production of melatonin, the hormone which makes you sleepy.

Putting yellow objects and furnishings around your office can keep you more alert and awake, leading to better productivity and renewed focus. If you want to combine two outside-of-the-box productivity hacks, get a sunflower for your desk.

3. Work from a communal space

Instead of working with your office door closed, perhaps you should take your work to the busy coffee shop down the street. If this sounds counterintuitive, think again: The human brain actually thinks better and gets a boost from a little bit of noise pollution.

Studies have shown ambient noise can actually make you more productive. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found ambient noise of 70 decibels increased productivity more than relative quiet. The hustle and bustle of a cafe can give you a productivity boost just like your morning java.

4. Look at photos of baby animals

The next time your manager catches you staring at pictures of baby animals on the Internet, make sure to explain you’re only looking at a pygmy goat to boost productivity. A study by Hiroshima University in Japan found looking at cute images with pleasant associations actually increases concentration.


After looking at cute pictures in a study, participants improved their performance at concentration tasks by an amazing 44 percent. Next time you spend a few minutes looking at pictures of a baby duck befriending a dog, remember: you’re just improving your focus for the rest of the day.

5. Set the right temperature

Environmental factors like your office temperature can also influence productivity. A study by Cornell found offices where temperatures were 68 degrees Fahrenheit or lower made 44 percent more mistakes, while those at optimal room temperature (about 77 degrees Fahrenheit) made fewer errors.

Having a sweltering office or working in an ice box can really impact your ability to focus on something other than your discomfort.

If management can’t or won’t change the temperature to something more ideal, bring your own solutions like cooling fans or space heaters. Setting the right temp can help set the right mood for you to get your work accomplished.

6. Take a nap

As it turns out, a perfectly timed nap can actually result in feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day. The key is to make sure you find the optimal time for your nap in order for it to work as a productivity booster. According to your circadian rhythm, the optimal time to take a nap is around 2 p.m., your post-lunch period.

However, since everyone runs differently, your perfect nap time might be a little earlier or later. By consulting a nap wheel, you can discover your perfect time to snooze. Thanks to the refreshing nature of naps, more employers are offering nap rooms and pods as a company culture perk.

Sometimes to achieve your ideal productivity levels you need to step outside the box. These productivity hacks might seem strange, but they can help you jumpstart your brain so you can get back to work.

What are some strange productivity hacks you use? Share in the comments!

Image credit: Shutterstock/Vinogradov Illya

Get the TNW newsletter

Get the most important tech news in your inbox each week.