Business, Health + Wellness, Lifestyle

How Your Physical Environment Affects Your Work

October 28, 2015
How Your Physical Environment Affects Your Work

Have you ever noticed that you seem to get more work done when you go to a coffee shop? Or maybe you get more done when you shut yourself in your office?

This quote sums it up:

“You are a product of your environment.” – W. Clement Stone twitter icon

Our physical environment can have a large impact on our internal state, and therefore, our productivity.

Pros + Cons to 4 Common Work Environments for Entrepreneurs

Pros + Cons to 4 Common Work Environments for Entrepreneurs

Home Office

Setting up a dedicated home office might seem like the best solution at first, but there are a few pros and cons to consider.

One huge benefit is having control over the look and feel of the office (visuals, sound, smells.) Not only can you decorate it however you’d like, but you also have easy access to all of your supplies.

There’s also the aspect of comfort. You’re in your own home with no commute and can dress however you’d like. (I know it’s recommended to get dressed every day, but honestly, most of my days are spent in yoga clothes. We’ll just save that for a separate discussion.)

The first downside is that it’s easier to get distracted by household chores or other people who may be home. Even disciplined workers can get thrown off by family obligations.

The second downside is that it may be harder to mentally separate work from home, despite having a separate room.

Coffee Shop

Coffee shops have been a long-time favorite of writers, freelancers and the newer aged digital nomads. There’s even a website solely dedicated to giving the coffee shop ambiance so you can play it in the background anywhere.

I’ve become fond of working from the Gettysburg Starbucks, or any Starbucks that has Google Wifi. It’s excellent.

The biggest problem I’ve run into (aside from spending too much money on coffee and food!) is the background noise during meetings. Last week I tried moving to an outside table and still had to battle the sounds of wind, a train, a helicopter… (it was never-ending).

I think there is such a thing as a noise-cancelling headset, so that might be worth a try (unless I made it up).

Friends/Relatives Houses

Most of us will find ourselves working from a friend or relative’s house from time to time. The ability to do this is great, but if they don’t understand your lifestyle / work situation, you may get interrupted often.

Hotel Room

I tend to get A LOT done when I’m traveling and have extra time in my hotel room.

The room is usually clean with minimal furniture, it’s quiet, and I can’t be distracted by household chores.

Sarah Von Bargen wrote a great post about using a hotel room as a DIY writing retreat. It’s brilliant.

4 Things Disrupting Work Environment

4 Big Productivity Disruptions


If you haven’t already noticed it, start paying attention to how you feel when your house or office is cluttered. Chances are it makes it harder to stay focused.


Some people are more sensitive to noises than others, and it can depend on your project. It’s worth taking note of, though.

I have trouble reading and writing in-depth pieces unless it’s very quiet.

And as I mentioned above, background noise can be distracting if you’re in a meeting.


Again, this is situational, but people in general are very distracting.

When I worked in an office, I had zero control over people walking up to my desk, which would make me lose momentum on a task.

Cell Phone / Social Media

How much time are you spending checking social media? Or checking texts as soon as they come in?


Continued Reading: The True Cost of Multi-Tasking by Psychology Today

6 Ways to Improve Your Work Environment

6 Ways to Improve Your Work Environment


How colors affect your mood is one of my favorite topics.

Feelings associated with colors:

Red: Exciting, energizing, hot, passionate, impulsive, dramatic, aggressive, dangerous

Yellow: Joyful, stimulating, friendly

Brown: Earthy, grounded, steady, natural, durable

Black: Powerful, sophisticated, elegant, depressed, mourning

White: Pure, clean, innocent, bright, clinical, cold

Blue: Calm, peaceful, clean, strong

Green: Natural, healthy, life, growth, spring, renewal

Get a full list in my post about choosing the right colors for your brand.


Natural lighting is best and will help you feel awake and alert.

Fluorescent lighting can cause anxiety in some people, as well as trigger migraines (my personal experience).


Try to find a nice balance between functional yet ascetically pleasing furniture.

That cute chair that hurts your back after a few hours isn’t worth it.


Adding a few pieces of your favorite artwork or touches of a positive color from the list above could have a big impact. The better your office looks, the more excited you’ll be to spend time there.


Lighting a candle of your favorite scent can instantly add a positive touch to your office, or try calming scents like lavender if you’re having a particularly stressful day.


Most importantly, it all comes down to how you mesh with the energy of the environment.

If you feel it’s situational (which is the case for me), do some tests. Maybe you write better in your home office but brainstorm better in a coffee shop.

Hack your productivity by environment: twitter icon
Keep track of how you feel in each environment and what type of project you were working on. You’ll notice patterns, and soon you’ll know where to go to work the most efficiently for each project.


In the Comments:

Describe the environment where you feel the most productive. Does it depend on the project?

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  • Daniela, The Acne Whisperer October 28, 2015 at 11:50 am

    Quite note on the homework, and then I’ll eagerly read the entire post a little later (if I don’t say this now, I’ll forget). 🙂
    When going through emails to unsubscribe, it’s very important that you’re sure you actually subscribed in the first place. If you didn’t, then requesting to be taken off a mailing list lets the sender know your email addy is live. Then it becomes ripe for selling. Better to put those emails into junk, and create filters so that such emails automatically get junked.

  • Daniela, The Acne Whisperer October 29, 2015 at 10:14 am

    Ok, now I read the whole thing. 😀
    GREAT POST ! I like to switch things up. My salon at my desk, upstairs in my dining room, cafe down the street. What I can’t work in is a hotel room. lol I prefer to stay at a place that has comfortable, and if possible pretty, places to sit, more out in the open. In a hotel room I feel closed in. However, that could be because I’m not staying in the nicest hotels… lol In each place I work I try to have around me things that please me. In the salon, spa music, in my dining room fresh flowers, and in a cafe really good iced tea.