When it comes to personal productivity & wellbeing, it pays to go green
You may already have noticed that we are quite fond of the color green here at Freedom.
We chose green as our brand color as we thought it represented how you feel after tuning out the noise of sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram – calm, grounded, and more in tune with the best version of yourself. Basically, we wanted Freedom to provide the same effect as a head-clearing walk in nature because we know how important it is to connect with the natural world. Especially if you want to be productive and successful in your work life!
Green Productivity is a system prevalent in Asia that combines the tools of productivity enhancement with insights from nature to improve aspects of both. You might be more familiar with its Western variant, Corporate Sustainability, but the overall goal is the same – to enhance the economy, the environment, and society simultaneously.
We all know that for organizations and businesses, corporate sustainability is a big deal. In the past five years alone, more than 85% of consumers have shifted their purchase behaviors towards being more environmentally friendly, while investors increasingly back companies with higher “ESG” (environmental, social, and governance) ratings.
But when it comes to your personal productivity and wellbeing, it pays to be greener, too. And with such a reliance on technology in our daily lives, it’s more important than ever to connect to our roots. As it happens, we can definitely learn a thing or two from the high priestess of productivity, Mother Nature herself!
Join us in exploring the many ways that being green and connecting to nature can help us stay healthy and productive.
How to Power Productivity With Nature
Natural ecosystems like forests score a 10 in the productivity game: they sustain themselves seamlessly while constantly expanding. So what better productivity teacher is there than nature itself? Integrating green elements into the office (or wherever you work from) works wonders for mental health, enhances job satisfaction, and leads to better output.
Green Up Your Workspace
Set the mood at both your home and corporate office by jazzing the place up with some desk plants. Being near real greenery eases stress and enhances creativity while caring for these (relatively) low-maintenance office plants helps you start your day on a positive note. Plants also help to clean the air around you, filtering out everyday toxins that are found in many household products like paints, varnishes, and cleaning products.
And don’t be scared to get dirty! Soil contains microbes that, when inhaled, have antidepressant effects similar to Prozac — so get in there.
4 of the best plants to enhance productivity are:
Voted number 1 in NASA´s Clean Air Study, the snake plant is also super low-maintenance requiring little light and a little water every couple of weeks.
With its beautiful leaves and elegant flowers all year round, the peace lily is a mood-booster, as well as another NASA favorite from the study. It’s also extremely hardy and can survive in low light conditions (or even with just office lighting!)
Bring the outdoors inside with this lush tropical mini-tree! Slightly more intermediate than the previous two, Ficus Benjamin requires a sunny spot and a fair amount of humidity. That’s a great reason to take a micro-break and go mist it with water every so often!
One of the most popular office plants for a reason, the Chinese Evergreen is another air-purifying champion, which can assist in increasing productivity and enriching health and well-being. Not only that, but its pretty patterned leaves can actually thrive in low light areas, and require watering a mere once a week!
If however, you don’t have a green bone in your body, worry not because even faux office plants enhance calmness and overall wellbeing!
So channel that plant parent energy for optimal productivity. Better yet, double up on the natural environment by adding a water feature, sun lamp, or desktop zen garden.
Listen to Your Body
Biological cues are the most natural things about us. Hunger drives, sleep cycles, and social interaction determine our abilities to adapt to change, respond to stress, and stay alert, so meeting your body’s needs helps you thrive.
Conduct regular self-scans to notice early signs of hunger, exhaustion, or dehydration. Then, nourish yourself before grumpiness, brain fog, or burnout sets in. Plus, nothing ever takes priority over tending to your needs.
Take Your Work Outside
Remember begging your elementary school teacher to let you have class outside? There’s actually some merit to that. Spending time outdoors boosts vitamin D, which helps create serotonin, the happy chemical. And we all work better when we’re feeling good. So finish those emails in nature if you can!
If you can’t clock any outdoor hours during the day, hanging out near a window can go a long way. Opening those blinds works wonders for mental health, quality of life, and regulating the sleep-wake cycle. This green employee initiative is a productivity goldmine — all while reducing energy use.
If a windowless workstation has got you down, spend some quality time in front of a sun lamp, AKA a seasonal affective disorder (SAD) lamp, to mimic those much-needed sunbeams. DIY green productivity with these energy-amplifying lights that disrupt melatonin production so you can beat the afternoon slump.
Go for a Walk on Your Break
Feeling sunlight on your face is an immediate energy booster, so why not combine that with some movement? Exercise unlocks a cocktail of happy chemicals in your brain (you’ve heard of the runner’s high before), reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and can even increase hippocampus size: the brain’s memory and learning center.
If you can’t squeeze in an outdoor walk during the day, there are other easy ways to get your body moving at work. Opt for the stairs over the elevator, do some stretching in your cubicle, or swap to a standing desk.
Play With Your Pet
When in doubt, go curl up with Fido. It’s not an illusion — spending time with animals does make us feel better. Pain, blood pressure, and stress all decrease when we’re around pets, while happiness, immune function, and calmness increase.
Caring for animals also serves as a reminder to take care of yourself. Do you need to blow off some steam, head outside, or take a snooze? Or maybe you just want to snuggle with a loved one. Any time your fur baby needs anything, check in with yourself too.
Tune Into Your Natural Energy Cycles
Like any other animals, humans have our own energy patterns — and only 50 percent of people’s innate cycles align with a 9 to 5 work day. Pay attention to where your energy dips and spikes throughout the day to reveal your chronotype or natural circadian rhythm.
Try matching your sleep cycle to this pattern, then use the knowledge of your energetic peaks and valleys to plan your day more effectively. For instance, tackle your inbox during low energy periods and use high energy times for focused, deep work.
Practice Grounding Exercises
These days, it’s so easy to get caught up in the toxicity of hustle culture. Counter that by intentionally making space to reconnect with yourself via grounding exercises. And the nice thing is, you can do these anywhere!
Close your eyes if you’d like, then take some slow, deep breaths. Notice the sensations in your body: feel where you make contact with the floor or a chair, acknowledge where you’re holding any tightness or discomfort, and let your thoughts pass by like leaves flowing down a stream, never staying with one for too long. When you’re ready to return to the world, take one more deep breath and softly flutter your eyes open.
Return to this exercise throughout the day whenever you need a moment of stillness, stress release, or balance. Mindfulness practices like these aid creativity, happiness, fulfillment, and more!
Recycle Your Tech
Technology is constantly being updated and advancing at such a rate that electronic waste is now the world’s fastest-growing waste stream.
E-waste – electronic devices that are no longer wanted, not functional, or obsolete – may look like junk, but some of it, specifically devices like smartphones and tablets contain rare, precious metals that are being rapidly depleted. Other items like batteries, contain harmful chemicals or can start fires.
The good news is that not only will cleaning out that drawer of old gadgets free up physical and mental space but many of those items can be reused or recycled!
If your old devices are still in good working order, they can easily be reused – either by you or someone else. Digitunity is an organization working to eliminate the digital divide and is a great option if you live in the US, and you can easily find similar non-profit projects in your area.
When it comes to recycling, local governments or authorities should offer information online as to where you can recycle e-waste, while some stores and tech companies will accept aging tech devices. Another wonderful resource if you live in North America is Earth 911, which maintains an extensive recycling database for all kinds of waste.
Skip the radio and find inspiration by tuning into some nature-inspired soundscapes.
Like ambient noise or lo-fi beats, listening to outdoorsy audios soothe the mind and allow you to focus deeper. It’s nature’s Spotify! Transport yourself to a tropical oasis just by hitting the “play” button on Freedom’s nature sound selections and enter that forest-bathing state of bliss from the comfort of your desk chair.
Disconnecting your devices is the best way to reconnect with nature — and yourself. Digital boundaries are essential to maintaining a healthy relationship with tech (and all forms of virtual connection), so you can recharge your own battery. Even a bit of distance from distracting websites, social media, or *ahem* your inbox can help ground and calm you. It’s like a mini-vacation for your mind!
Of course, this is easier said than done, so use Freedom to schedule downtime. Although being offline might feel stressful at first, you’ll be better for it — I promise.
Find Freedom in Going Green
Integrating some green lessons from nature into your work life is a win-win for everyone — not just the planet. Anytime you’re in the market for creative inspiration or an afternoon pick-me-up, consider channeling some green energy to enhance your productivity and overall wellbeing. Enjoy the Freedom of reconnecting with nature today!