The Psychology of Color

25.10.2020 |

Episode #7 of the course How to set up a productive working environment by Melissa Chu


Yesterday, you learned about the relationship between music and productivity, and what type of music suits your work style and personality. Today, we’re going to cover the impact of color on productivity, and how you can create a working space with the right colors.


How Do You Feel When You’re Productive?

Right now, we’re going to do an exercise. We’re going to look at the type of work you do, and what it feels like when you’re being productive (and unproductive).

Using a pen and paper, brainstorm your thoughts to the questions below. Remember that your responses are specific to you, and therefore there aren’t any right or wrong answers.

Let’s begin.

1. What type of work do you do?

Example: I write freelance articles for individuals looking to start and grow small businesses.

2. What skills and abilities are required in your work?

Example: My work requires analysis, research, compiling information, and written communication.

3. How does it feel when you’re “in the zone”?

Example: Being “in the zone” means I’m incredibly focused on my work and deep in my thoughts. I’m able to write for long periods without getting distracted by noises or other thoughts. Emotionally, I feel calm, yet alert and focused.

Try to be as specific as you can in your response. When you can write down clearly what your work entails, you can figure out how to be your most productive self.

Take a couple of minutes to think about and answer each question. Afterward, let’s look at the impact of colors on your work.


How Colors Affect Your Work

According to research, color affects the way we feel, including how productive we are at work. Interior colors impact our ability to carry out tasks. The colors that are right for you, however, depend on the type of work you’re doing.

Generally speaking, “warm” colors, such as red, orange, and yellow, incite feelings of arousal. “Cool” colors, including green, blue and purple, are calming. Neutral colors, such as white and grey, induce feelings of sadness (which isn’t great for productivity).

Below is a breakdown of each color. Based on your responses above, you should get a clearer picture of what colors are suitable for your workspace:

• Red is associated with strength, warmth, and an increased heart rate, but can also be aggressive. Red is suitable for physical labor.

• Yellow is associated with creativity, confidence, and optimism. If you’re in a role that requires innovation, yellow is a suitable color.

• Green is associated with balance, harmony, and peacefulness. Green is suitable if you’re looking to reduce fatigue and stress.

• Blue is associated with intellect, logic, and stability. It’s generally a good color for offices, as it is calming and suitable for cognitive work.


How to Implement Colors in Your Workplace

Now, maybe you want to redecorate your workspace. Or maybe you’re just looking to make minor modifications. Whichever stage you’re at, it’s possible to make color changes to improve your productivity and morale at work.

In order from lowest to highest commitment, here are some places where you can implement a color change:

• Desktop background (that’s your computer screen)

• Office supplies (your mug, desk lamp, or stationary)

• Décor (posters, pictures, plants, and other decorations)

• Furniture (chairs, tables, desks)

• Wall color

In your office space, you can use a combination of colors to boost different moods. This may involve using one predominant color and a secondary color as an accent.

For instance, you might paint your office walls a calming blue, put in yellow furniture, put in a few plants, and paint one wall orange as an accent.

Be sure to use similar intensity colors when designing. Highly saturated colors go together, while light pastel colors should be paired. Putting soft and loud hues together, such as peach and black, can create a strain on the eyes.


Keep Colors That Help You Work

Depending on your situation, you can color-coordinate your workspace as much as needed. Sometimes, it’s not only about adding, but also taking away things that cause discomfort and stress. If you have a piece of décor that’s jarring, take it out.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at how light impacts your ability to work, and what type of light works best.



Recommended book

The Complete Color Harmony, Pantone Edition by Leatrice Eiseman


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