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How Colors May Affect Your Productivity and Success

by Ann on June 15, 2009 · 31 comments

in Featured, General Business, Management

Color and productivityColors are everywhere and their impact on us shouldn’t be under-estimated. Our nervous system requires input and stimulation. And color choice is the best way to help it.

Colors can change our mood, make us work or feel tired – imagine, your room colors may be the reason for your bad productivity or lower creativity! The human eye sees about 7,000,000 colors.

Certain colors and color relationships can irritate, cause headaches, or make you feel sick. Other colors and color combinations are healing and soothing.

Consequently, the appropriate use of color can maximize productivity, minimize visual fatigue, and relax the whole body. Here are some basics to start from:

Color Physical background Feelings Effect on productivity
Thermal / warm colors (stimulate and raise blood pressure) Red Red raises blood pressure, increases breathing, heart rate and central nervous system functioning Makes people feel hungry; subconsciously symbolizes dominance Makes people more cautious and detail-oriented; => Make people’s work more accurate
Cool colors (calm, ease inflammation, and lower blood pressure) Blue Blue lowers blood pressure, the pulse rate and body temperature Least appetizing; calming Boosts creativity
Green Green in the center of the spectrum has a stabilizing effect on the human system as a whole. Relieves stress, makes you calmer Researchers have also found that green can improve reading ability

Now, just a few details to support the data listed in the table:

Red:

color red

It may look weird that while making you more energetic and excited, this color also makes you more productive and attentive to details. This phenomenon is explained the following way:

“When you feel that the situation you are in is problematic,” said Norbert Schwarz, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan, “you are more likely to pay attention to detail, which helps you with processing tasks but interferes with creative types of things.”

Blue:

color blue

By contrast, when people are calm, balanced and in a happy mood, they are more creative and less analytic. Hence if you need to get more creative, blue is the right choice for you. Blue also suppresses appetite, so if you have bad time concentrating because of the frequent breaks for some snacks, surround yourself with blue and you will get more organized.

Compare:

Want to see for yourself, compare then: Which one looks more delicious?

How delicious does this look to you?

and

Red

Which one makes you more relaxed / energetic?

Blue

and

red

Post images by janerc, FlickrJunkie, ruurmo , colormatters, flod, B G

More on colors: How Color Choices in Stores Can Influence Your Shopping Decisions

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

SJS June 15, 2009 at 6:17 pm

The title seems to have used “effect” where “affect” would be more in line with the content of the article.

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crumb December 26, 2011 at 5:16 am

now the title has ‘affect’ ?

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ael June 23, 2009 at 10:02 pm

nice try correcting grammar, but “effect” is indeed the correct use here.

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Jennifer Mattern October 19, 2010 at 12:53 pm

No, it’s not. Not when the commenter left that note at least. It was simply corrected before you commented, deciding to criticize them. You can see it in the URL — the original title was used to generate the permalink using “effect,” and changing it after the title correction would have screwed up incoming links and such so it was left alone. Don’t be so quick to criticize. (And yes, I know this is a reply to an older comment.)

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Mike November 17, 2012 at 4:02 pm

Sorry, but “effect” is a noun; so “affect,” a verb, would be correct.

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Jennifer Mattern November 21, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Yes, we’ve established that and it’s been corrected in the page title. Thanks. :) As noted previously we didn’t change it in the permalink because it would have affected incoming links at the time, giving visitors a “page not found” error.

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Leon August 10, 2009 at 5:56 am

To really prove the point that color affects how appetizing something is, you should really have two identical photos of a food but shown in different colors.
Here there are other factors other than just color that make the rice appear less appetizing than the strawberries: the uninspired composition of the image, the seaweed skin, and the fact that they kind of look like maggots …

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Katie h December 5, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Haha

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beckie September 20, 2012 at 11:58 pm

rofl!!!

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Katie D August 12, 2009 at 10:26 am

Yes, traditionally scents do affect your productivity. Read up on aromatherapy to know more. I’m a writer and often use essential oils. For example, if it’s a cold day and I’m sluggish and having difficulty concentrating I will burn some rosemary essence in an oil burner. If I’m very tense and this is impeding my work then I’ll turn to lavender, and so on.

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Israel August 16, 2009 at 9:03 pm

This is so much true! And not only about edible products, but also about consumption products. Thanks for the interesting read on a fresh topic.

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Mark B. August 24, 2009 at 8:30 pm

Not very detailed is it? Never the less I did change my computers desktop to red. I’m such a procrastinator I’m even thinking of painting an office wall red. That will put off any “real” office work for half a day or more!

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Dr. T August 27, 2009 at 10:00 pm

I’m trying to think of where I’ve seen something more useless than this “study” and its advice. Nothing comes to mind. Has anyone seen offices colored in any of the three primary colors of light? And does anyone believe that red, the color of blood, increases appetite more than other colors? Or that blue lowers appetite? Dieters would be painting their entire environment blue. Personally, I found the brown and blue concoctions more appetizing than the close-up of strawberries. I also found the red photo with the melting gel tower more relaxing than the blue photo with the vivid flower-like (shuriken-like?) image on a white dust background. Of course, I could be atypical in regards to color.

The skeptic in me says this type of information doesn’t pass the BS detector test.

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OJ October 15, 2010 at 11:05 am

i can think of something more useless. spending the time to write a full paragraph to spite someone’s research. oh, i’m an art consultant and there are plenty of offices with bright blue red orange green and yellow walls. maybe the lack of color in yours is giving you a bad attitude :)

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nowyat March 12, 2011 at 4:38 am

Orange is bad. Really bad. I used to work in a place with orange/yellow patterned rugs and orange striped walls. I can’t think of a more unpleasant environment. It made people narky. Someone obviously thought it would keep us awake. Like work isn’t bad enough in the first place. :P Now, blue, I can work around, all mellow and yet productive.

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Pam January 10, 2014 at 6:18 am

Orange makes me sick. If it was neon kind of red mostly orange color I would want to throw-up, get dizzy, irritated, and feel very week. I would feel that way anywhere 20 mins to 2 hrs depending of exposure. I’ve always been that way. Don’t know why???? Any Ideas???

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katie martin December 2, 2009 at 6:08 pm

Ann whats your last name i need to site u for a project.

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Hasan December 8, 2009 at 4:28 am

Ann Smarty

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Angela February 16, 2010 at 3:40 am

Ann, I really need your last name also. I need to cite it for a paper. It would help a lot.

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English course July 7, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Interesting. I’ll try to look at blue objects from now on when lunchtime feels too far away…

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Linda July 7, 2010 at 3:07 pm

Ann -

The NYTimes article mis-quoted the study and hence a lot of people thought this information applies to room colors. The study involved people looking at a computer screen for a study on the impact of colors on the response to ads. This response cannot be applied to room colors. Screen colors, print ad colors and uniform colors are not the same as room colors in terms of response. Paint an office red and you will be hungry, restless and bouncing off the walls – NOT more focused.

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Stacy December 8, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Hello
Great post. Really good material about different colors. I just would like to emphasize one point. No matter what color you use – use it reasonable. Too much domination of whatever color can have an opposite effect – it can cause stress.
Best Regards
Stacy

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Clancy December 14, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Hello everyone! My friend and I have been studying about how colors can affect your mood. We were just looking to see if anyone on this site has any helpful information that might help us further our investigation on colors. You7 can check our conclusions so far on our website howcolorsaffectyourmood.wikispaces.com. You might find it helpful if you have any questions about this topic. Thanks it would be greatly appreciated if you could respond.

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Anna January 30, 2012 at 11:34 pm

This was so Fun doing!Age 11

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Rkeba July 18, 2012 at 3:00 am

Why is it that yellowish room makes me sick and sometimes i vomit, certain greens and blue makes my stomach upset to

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Chris March 26, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Out of those three, blue makes me feel productive and focused, red makes me think sex and food, and green makes me relax.

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