Comfort: An Overlooked Productivity Hack

Nov 21, 2023

For many of us, as we head into the Thanksgiving holiday next week, the days are starting to get a little shorter (and colder). So this week — just in time for winter ahead — we are talking about one of the best productivity hacks: getting comfortable.

Read on for three practical ways to find comfort in your life, including one that’ll be your new best-kept secret!

Why is comfort important?

People often think of productivity as inherently uncomfortable — pushing us to our limits to squeeze the most out of ourselves. Even the phrase ‘hard work’ seems to imply that to be our most productive we must be pushing and struggling to truly feel good about our work. It can’t be easy. It can’t be comfortable.

But does this picture of work align with reality? Not necessarily; research has shown that being comfortable can support productivity. For example, an experiment conducted at The Technical University of Catalonia found that uncomfortable temperature conditions reduced the attention index scores of teenagers (12-14 years old) by around 45%. In another study, measures of productivity in an office context had a peak around 71° F (22° C), while pushing them to 86° F (30° C) correlated with a drop of almost 10% on a performance index.

Of course temperature isn’t the only environmental factor that impacts comfort and productivity. For example, in one experiment, ergonomic training and an ergonomic chair were shown to increase productivity. Another example: in an assembly task setting, loud noise was associated with reduced productivity. Even being hungry can negatively impact your decision making.

So the evidence seems to suggest that if you want to be your most focused and productive, you should care about comfort.

The Danish concept of hygge

As the nights get colder and darker, it can be harder to keep our spirits and energy up. Turning to coziness and comfort is a great strategy to help us find moments of light in our day.

You may have heard of the Danish term “hygge,” (pronounced “hoo-guh,” in case you’re wondering…), which people usually define as a sense of coziness and comfort that makes you feel content. It’s usually applied to the little things in life, like a cup of fresh coffee, nice slippers, a candle, or watching movies with loved ones. 

As you go off into your day, notice the little things that bring you comfort, whether that’s a cup of coffee, or your cozy scarf! Take a moment to appreciate them, and look for inspiration for new ways to increase your feelings of comfort and coziness.

Here are a couple of practical ideas you can try:

#1: A warm (virtual) fire.

Our theme this week is comfort and care, and how to keep our spirits and energy up during this season of holidays, colder weather, and the end-of-year flurry of work. One small comfort idea: if you don’t have a fireplace, but you do have an extra screen in your workspace, try streaming an HD fireplace from YouTube — it might really help you feel cozier! Here’s a link to one we like

#2: Better lighting.

Another small comfort idea for you today, think about the lighting in your house…could it be a little cozier? One suggestion is to try replacing any harsh white lighting with warmer tones to help you ease into your evenings. We like warm lightbulbs, or even wifi-enabled lightbulbs that can turn any color you want — perfect for bringing you a little joy this winter, and helping you snap into a relaxed and focused state. (Ask us for our recommendations on smart bulbs!)

#3: A foot bath (?!)

That’s right, a foot bath. Maybe it sounds like a weird productivity tip, but some members of our team swear by it (to protect their little secret, we won’t name names!) To make one, it’s simple. Grab a bucket or large bowl, fill it with warm water, and add your favorite epsom salts (we like Eucalyptus or Lavender!)

Keep a towel handy so you don’t make a mess of your floor. Then, get to work. The footbath is an ideal strategy for keeping you trapped in your chair for any work you might be avoiding… but it will be so cozy you won’t even want to get up and do something else! Try it, and let us know what you think!

This could be you.

Comfort at focused.

At focused, we try our best to make our members feel comfortable. From little things like music and reflection questions, to meditations, community, and a calming, supportive host helping you with accountability — we design our offerings to give you a sense of ease and comfort as you approach your day. If you’re already a member, we are so grateful to have you. And if you’re not already a member, please consider giving us a try!