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Increase Your Productivity by Looking out the Window

According to a recent study by the University of Melbourne, taking a 40 second break to look at nature drives increased attention levels after the break. By using a behavioral measure of Sustained Attention to a Response Task (SART), the researchers tested 150 subjects performing specific keystrokes and measured their attention and accuracy completing the task.

They captured their SART scores before and after a short 40 second break. During the break, the control group looked at images of a concrete roof while the other group looked at a grassy roof with flowering plants. The two groups resumed the same tasks and the control group’s concentration levels dropped by 8% and their accuracy became less consistent. However, the group that viewed the nature scene had an increase in concentration levels by 6% and upheld steady performance.

The psychological theory suggests that the natural environment is less taxing on our consciousness and allows you to replenish your attention control. So, the next time you are reviewing a giant research report or data set, take a break to look out the window in order to refocus on the insights at hand.

Nicole Torres, Harvard Business Review, September 2015:


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