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How To Boost Your Brain Power and Improve Productivity In The Office

April 1, 2014

Filed under: Environment


Finding a healthy way to boost productivity in the office can be a challenge. Your brain is a wonderful thing and the rest of your body is pretty special too. With the help of Building Biologist, Pauline Ferguson (also known as The Hazard Hunter) from Red Fox Building Biology, we zero in on how you can maximise your time in the office and increase your productivity.

Your brain functions properly when you give it the right fuel. That means you need to stay hydrated, feed your brain fresh foods such as fruit and vegetables (see a nutritionist for advice on brain food) and fresh air.


If you've ever had a *dehydration headache, you'll know that drinking good clean filtered water is essential.  Make it easy on yourself and have a water bottle (I have a thermos which keeps my water cool) on your desk, and drink often. Just because you're indoors doesn't mean you should skimp on water intake. Your brain needs to be hydrated to improve productivity and performance during long hours.

* A dehydration headache is when you haven't drunk enough water, and it feels a lot like someone with a giant hammer slamming into your skull, from the inside, usually in time with your pulse. That’s because your brain is actually dry, and pulsing in your head.


This is really important. The mix of air that feeds your brain will determine, very quickly, what quality of thoughts you have and what type of decisions you make. Having the wrong mix of oxygen, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone or other pollutants can seriously affect your brain.

Carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO) and ozone (O3) are all quite dangerous. Carbon dioxide and ozone replace oxygen in the area. That's why carbon dioxide fire extinguishers are so useful for electrical fires - by replacing or pushing away the oxygen in the area very quickly. The carbon dioxide starves the fire of fuel and it dies. The same thing will happen to you. Ozone isn't as good because it will feed a fire, but your body can't breathe and process ozone, so it won't help.
A telling factor if you have an issue with too much of these is fuzzy thinking (especially when you're tired or sick) and if there's too much, headaches (really killer headaches, such as dehydration). Ozone is produced by photocopiers and laser printers, so ensure there's plenty of fresh air filtering in. Carbon dioxide is also created by humans, animals, and to a lesser extent, plants.

Carbon monoxide is a lot scarier (although those two are scary enough!), and the initial symptoms od fuzzy thinking and headaches is the same. It can be produced by gas heaters that haven't been serviced and cleaned, and also gas stoves etc. The key with those is the colour of the flame - it should be a clear, hot blue colour, not orange or yellow.  If in doubt, turn off the gas, open doors and windows and take small children and animals outside into fresh air. Get the appliance serviced.
Other Pollutants: 
These are varied, and can come from various sources, including your furnishings, carpets, cleaning products etc. Try to use natural cleaning products (not chemicals) if you can; think twice about getting that "stain resistant" coating on your new furniture; try to avoid manufactured wood products unless they're no-VOC. (Volatile Organic Compound)

Air Conditioning

Ensure it's cleaned and serviced annually. Ask the technician to check for mould and bacteria as well as efficiency of the unit.  If, like me, you prefer not to use air conditioning, open a window or two, preferably on the side away from traffic sources such as roads. Nothing better than fresh air.

What is a simple way to clean pollutants from the air in your office?
Plants. Plants can make it a pleasant place to work. Some plants can clean the toxins from the air. My favourite of these is the Peace Lily as they're easy to care for, look pretty, sometimes flower and they're very efficient at removing toxic gases. Use one medium sized plant for 10m2 (more if you can manage it) and place at least one near you. They also have the benefit of regulating the humidity, so that it is in the optimal range for people.  Use plants to compliment air-conditioning.

And please, don't use chemical "air fresheners". These "work" by blocking your olfactory senses - you can't smell as well - and overloading the remaining sense with perfume.  All you're doing is adding more chemicals to the air. Remove the source of the unpleasant odour (although this could be a problem if it's a colleague or boss!), open a window for fresh air where possible, and place plants on your desk.
Fresh, clean air = fresh clean thinking.
Happy thinking!

Pauline Ferguson from Red Fox Building Biology is one of Queensland's leading Building Biologist. Building Biology is the science of helping people (and animals) to be healthier, through the removal of toxins or poisons in their environment. Pauline aims to help you to detox your home or workplace and achieve a balance between today's busy & techno-dependent life and nature.

Tags: environment, building, building biology, building biologist, sustainable, sustainable practices, eco-friendly, enviromentality friendly, pollutants, fresg air

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