Be more productive. Get Outside

How much natural light does your workplace give you? In the never ending battle for greater
productivity, light exposure may be the single most important thing we can get to boost attention and brain function.

Studies of exposure to light sources, almost invariably show an increase in attention, focus, energy levels and basic productivity. Sunlight controls our ‘Circadian Rhythm’ or our internal clock. Quite simply, sunlight tells us that it’s time to stay alert and fire up. While a lack of light tells us it’s time to slow down.

Exposure to natural sunlight as opposed to those horrible fluorescent overhead lights in the
workplace show significant improvements in most parameters, including:

  • Increased reading and maths scores in primary school
  • Increased scores on attention tests in adults
  • Increases in reported energy levels - especially late in the day
  • Increased brain activation in areas that monitor attention and also help control our behaviours

This is quite amazing when you think about it. Our brains contain these light receptors that pretty much say “get up and get going!” and we can switch them on just by - you guessed it - exposing ourselves to the sun.

Here are some great ways to use sunlight to your advantage:

1) Get Out.
This is especially true if you’re stuck in an office without much natural light, but even if you get
some natural light, nothing works like direct sunlight (of course, being sun smart is a given). If we listened to the research, we would get out in the sunlight for 5-10 minutes every hour.

2) Beat Jet Lag
If you’re travelling and you need to adjust to the time zone, then one of the most effective things you can do is get out in the sunlight first thing in the morning. Get out just after sunrise, local time, and feel the sun on your skin. This natural light exposure tells your body clock to adjust.

3) Shift Workers
The key light frequency that drives our alertness is blue light. You can buy blue-light boxes that
blast your senses with this energy boosting frequency, allowing you to adjust to your shift, even if you have to wake up in the middle of the night to get started, with no sunlight in sight.

You can also use this strategy if you really want to become a ‘morning person’
Don’t underestimate the effect that natural light can have on your general mood, productivity and efficiency. Exposed to the right amount and right frequencies, you’ll feel better and get more done.


** Tony Wilson is a Workplace Performance Expert. His insights into performance science
and it's application in the workplace will make you re-think the way that you approach
leadership, culture change, high performance and productivity. Tony has an MBA and a
BSc majoring in physiology and delivers workshops and keynote presentations around the
globe.