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The Power of Switching Up Your Desk Setup

Tomas Sedurskas June 16, 2023 5 min read

A person is coding on a laptop on a desk.

I want to share something mind-boggling I discovered while juggling my work between home and the office. You know those days when you feel like a sloth at home but transform into a productivity ninja once you step into the office? Yeah, I’ve been there too. And guess what? Science backs us up on this!

Turns out, changing up your work environment can do wonders for your productivity and shake off those sluggish vibes. Who knew, right?

My Little Experiment

Being curious, I decided to put this theory to the test. For a solid two months now, whenever I found myself stuck in the slow lane of productivity, I started fiddling around with my work setup at home. I focused on different elements, hoping to recreate the productivity phenomenon that I experience when switching up from home to the office.

The Revealing Results

ChangeEffect on Productivity
HeadphonesNo noticeable effect
MonitorLow Effect
KeyboardLow Effect
ChairModerate Effect
Switching RoomHigh Effect
Switching BuildingHigh Effect

Here are the details on what I found:

  • Headphones: So, I thought maybe swapping out my headphones would have some effect. Turns out, not so much. Switching the headphones didn’t have any noticeable effect on my productivity. Bummer!

  • Monitor: Next up, I tinkered with my monitor setup. I tried placing my monitor to a different position and later on I switched it out for my older monitor. But truth be told, it only made a small dent in my productivity. Guess we can’t rely on pixels alone to save the day. Maybe a bigger monitor would have had a bigger effect.

  • Keyboard: On to the keyboard. I switched from my silent mechanical keyboard to a clicky one, hoping it would be the productivity trigger I needed. There was definitely a noticeable change, but it didn’t have the massive impact on my overall output that I was looking for.

  • Chair: Now, here’s where things got interesting. I decided to switch out the ergonomic throne for an uncomfortable kitchen chair. Lo and behold, it worked! The change in seating made all the difference, boosting my focus and getting my productivity engine revved up. Although I wouldn’t be able to work on it for a very long time, but it definitely can help out in a pinch.

  • Changing Room: As I delved deeper into the science of productivity hacking, I realized that altering your surroundings is the real game-changer. So, I took the plunge and switched my work location within my home. And boy, did that make a difference! A fresh room meant a fresh mindset. Goodbye, distractions; hello, laser-sharp focus!

  • Changing Building: It was time to go back to the office. And as expected, I experience the productivity boost. There’s just something special about changing you whole environment. I guess, this helps avoid the bad habits that we built up in those environments. It was like hitting the turbo button on productivity.

This whole experiment gave me an idea. If I would leave my home office for long enough, maybe I would experience the same positive effects at home? That’s gonna be my next experiment!

Backed by Research

There’s just one way to radically change your behavior: radically change your environment.

- Dr. B.J. Fogg , Director of Stanford Persuasive Lab

So I did some digging and found some research on this phenomenon. There’s this great article which looked into sources and research papers on this topic called "Want to Change Your Habits? Change Your Environment" by Gregory Ciotti. The main point being that by controlling your surroundings, we can make lasting changes to our behaviors and in turn productivity.

Here are a few pointers to get started:

  • Task Association: Link specific tasks to designated outlets or locations.
  • Reduce or Increase Friction: Make desired behaviors easier and unwanted habits more difficult.
  • Using Contextual Cues: Connect habits to existing chains of events.
  • Routinize with Systems: Establish routines and automate certain aspects of your life.

Keep in mind that this is only effective if a bad habit is being broken and you enforce the development of a new beneficial habit by yourself.

Other things you could try

It seems the more physically noticeable the change is, the easier it is to break the bad habit cycles. I didn’t test the following ideas yet, but I have a suspicion that they might be effective!

  • Listen to music
  • Switch up what music you listen to (Make a big change like a different genera)
  • Introduce physical activities into your work day. (Just a few pushups or squats could do the trick!)
  • Change the time of your lunch.
  • Change the time you start work.

I will test these later on and come back with my results in a part 2.

Embrace the Power of Change

So, my fellow coding enthusiasts, here’s the scoop: when you’re stuck in a productivity slump, it’s time to shake things up! Here are a few tips to help you harness the power of change:

  1. Play with your setup: Don’t be afraid to make small tweaks to your workspace. Rearrange your desk, switch out your tools, or let in more natural light. Sometimes, the tiniest modifications can have an impact on your mindset.

  2. Switching Rooms: If you’re working from home, why not switch up the room you work in? A change of scenery can work wonders for your brain. Plus, it keeps the monotony at bay.

  3. Seek new horizons: Whenever possible, break free from the four walls you’re accustomed to. Explore different buildings or locations for a fresh perspective. The thrill of a new environment can invigorate your creativity and supercharge your productivity.


The next time you feel like you’re slogging through molasses, remember that a change of environment might just be the productivity secret you’ve been seeking. Embrace the power of change, unleash your productivity beast, and let your work soar to new heights!

Happy coding and here’s to productive adventures in the wild world of web development!